Friday, September 12, 2008

Reggae kicks-off

Basil Gabbidon kicks-off Reggae Rockz
Tonight in Birmingham, UK, Reggae Rockz 2008 will take place with the band Gabbidon top of the bill and supported by Yaz Alexander and others. It all takes place in the open-air in Centenary Place and kicks-off the weekend-long ArtsFest. I used to be a regular attendee at the festival and at all Gabbidon's gigs, so as I'm on the other side of the world I'll listen to some of my reggae albums tonight instead and hark back to the good old days.

This article on Gabbidon appeared in the Birmingham Mail recently.
Reggae Rockz for Gabbidon by Alan Cross
Little did Basil Gabbidon know as he sat as a pupil in a classroom at Handsworth Wood Boys School in the early 70s that his future included three Grammy nominations and an album regularly chosen as one of the top 100 records of all time. Like many boys of his age, Basil learnt to play guitar and decided to form a band at school. With guitarist and singer David Hinds and bassist Ronald McQueen, he created Steel Pulse who at one point were the biggest selling reggae band in the world. Their hugely influential 1978 album, Handsworth Revolution, made them a household name and they were invited to play at Bill Clinton's presidential inauguration at The White House. But for Basil fame and fortune was not all he wanted. Although the band continues to tour worldwide, it is now approaching 25 years since he left the group.

So what has the 52-year-old been up to since? Along with raising his family in his beloved Handsworth and teaching in schools, for a while he had a trio playing heavy rock and reggae called Bass Dance which regularly toured Germany. But in the last five years Basil has emerged as the most important guardian of the legendary Birmingham reggae sound. He organised the magnificent Reggae Rockz concert in Centenary Square in 2005 which attracted an audience of thousands. He has encouraged countless musicians to play reggae and, along with his brother Colin on drums, has put together Gabbidon, a ten-piece band playing classic reggae with a twist of rock grooves and African rhythms. The band has been rehearsing and recording and tomorrow at The Roadhouse in Lifford Lane, Stirchley, Basil enters a new phase of his musical career as he launches his long awaited album, Reggae Rockz. Recorded and produced with the help of Burning Spear bassist Paul Beckford, it's a vibrant mix of reggae, rock and dance.

Also on stage at Reggae Rockz tonight will be Yaz Alexander and her backing singers Black Pearl, namely Emmah and Annie. Yaz is another workaholic, is on the go all the time and when she's not performing under her own name, she is teaching and coaching countless others to improve their singing ability. She simply never stops. After tonight's gig, where she will showcase tracks from her Life Begins album, next month Yaz will travel to the United States to perform at the Caribbean Heritage Reggae Festival in Birmingham, Alabama and at the New York Harvest Festival before returning for more gigs in the UK.

Yaz Alexander (centre) with her backing sisters, Emmah (left) and Annie


Post a Comment

<< Home