It’s not all about Bob Marley, although reggae will be indebted to his songs from “One Love” to “No Woman, No Cry.” Reggae’s unmistakable, lilting beat and soft rhythm is reason enough to book some discount airfare and hop on a plane to visit Jamaica, but the country has produced so many fine singers who follow in the footsteps of Marley, yet retain their own style.
Here are a few whose concerts you may not want to miss, if you’re visiting:
Chokey Taylor: This reggae singer and songwriter is from Jamaica’s South Coast, and he is pretty much a jack of all trades in the reggae world: musician, band-leader, singer and song writer. He is credited with changing the sound of music, and he performs in several hotels as well as does cabaret. He has produced seven albums with a new one on the way. His energy is infectious, and his hit songs from Keep On Rocking to Sunshine Reggae are so addicting, you’ll love the lyrics, background and beat.
Paul Hurlock: From “Money Done Now,” to “Someone Cutting it Down,” Paul Hurlock’s tunes are iconic, and on the lips of practically everyone in Jamaica. He is an accomplished musician, songwriter and performer and he is also the inventor of the only fully solar energy powered car in Jamaica. He was known as the One-Man Band for 25 years and has produced three albums. His music is full of complex harmonies and the signature reggae beat.
Reggae Sumfest is a great festival to take in every year in Jamaica, and occurs in mid-July in Montego Bay. The festival was started in 1993, and is officially sponsored by Red Stripe. The young crowd it attracts includes reggae innovators including Damian "Junior Gong" Marley and Stephen Marley, dancers like Elephant Man, Capleton, and Lady Saw as well as international artists including 50 Cent, Baby Cham, and Rihanna.
In addition to these singers mentioned above, there are countless others whose talents are showcased in yearly festivals including the Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival, which includes a variety of genres. The “Hip Strip” in Montego Bay is a popular line of nightclubs and restaurants.
Photo: Sam Kestu