This originally ran in the St. Louis Post Dispatch in 1993.
REGGAE AT WILL
St. Louis Band Plays Authentic Reggae Music
By Professor Skank
Reggae music in St. Louis is beginning to pick up
steam. Powerhouse KMOX radio has a reggae theme for its
morning show. There have been good crowds for touring bands;
witness the large turnout for the Reggae Sunsplash show.
Some public radio stations have great reggae shows (most
notably KDHX's "Positive Vibrations"). And a few local bands
are carrying on the Rasta spirit.
Without a doubt, the best of the bunch (from popular acclaim) is Reggae At
Will (RA.W). Consisting of Sunni Danaayaal on drums, Jody
Carter on keyboards, guitarist Craig Florez, bassist Kirk
Wheeler, and lead singer Donavan "Danny" Brissett, RA.W have
been consistently packing St. Louis' dance floors for quite
some time now.
In a recent interview, Brissett expounded on the band:
"yeah, we've been together since 1990. I was with Level
Vybes, and Reggae At Will had been around for a couple of
years before that. We got together, I joined the band, and
things have been really cool since, mon."
Asked about the support from St. Louis, Brissett
continued in his Jamaican accent: "the reception has been
fantastic. We've been voted No. 1 already this year in
Spotlight magazine, and last year we were voted best reggae
band by both Spotlight and the Riverfront Times. We have a
new cassette of 4 original songs which should be ready any
day now. We've been performing them live, mon, and they've
been going over really well."
The cassette, which features "Woman," "Egotistical
Girl," "Given Time," and "Addiction," is good, but their
live shows are better - in effect, they're what this band is
all about. Their chemistry, look, and sound is as good as
any reggae band you're likely to see. The music is played
with exceptional tightness, as they mix their originals in
with classics from such artists as Gregory Isaacs, Steel
Pulse, Third World, and Bob Marley (in fact, they've opened
for such international acts as Black Uhuru, Jimmy Cliff,
Yellowman, and Eek-A-Mouse). Visually they're exciting, with
the dreadlocked Brissett being the focal point. Having
recorded in Jamaica from 1977 through 1983, his
professionalism shows. Even though he's soft-spoken ("don't
play me up, just put me in as part of the band"), he's
obviously much more than that. The other members mesh with
him well, all have good stage presence, and most
importantly, it's apparent that they, as well as the
audience, have a lot of fun.
RA.W can be seen in St. Louis almost any night of the
week (except Sundays and Mondays when they play in the
Ozarks). Yet this will soon change as a headlining gig at
Chicago's "Hot House" in late September is sure to give this
local band some more recognition, and consequently more
out-of-town shows. So be sure to check them out before its
too late. This authentic taste of Jamaican music is here in
our own backyard, and Reggae At Will is it.
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