The oft-quoted definition of reggae is "message music," and Luciano's hits like a lightning rod. Immediately at odds with the crack-heavy image and accusations of "slackness" (misogyny) of some modern Jamaican dancehall, he appears the antithesis of the complacent star mumbling well-rehearsed pat answers. He lives passionately in the moment: a man spreading a message 24/7, be it in music or life.
If you see some parallels to the struggles of the Reverend Al Green, you're not alone. However, Luciano's sabbatical was brief, and he has since released a series of albums, including Upright and Jah is my Navigator, that have delighted dreadheads without losing the kids. Island smashes like "It's Me Again Jah" have ushered in a new, prophetic style of dancehall, earning a new alias for this former upholsterer renamed after gangster Lucky Luciano: the Messenjah.
So, to the uninitiated, what is the message? Luciano's ethos represents a core Rasta tenet: to be self-reliant, self-reflective and to think and act for oneself, particularly in times of hardship and crisis. Variations on this theme echo throughout his music.
He comes to town Saturday, May 3 to the Chance in Poughkeepsie as part of the 25th anniversary of Upstate Reggae. Ras Negus Vital Dub Band is also on the bill. Doors open at 8 p.m. and tickets are $30 in advance, more at the door. For more info call (845) 679-3382 or (845) 679-0008.
Music & dance fest in Kingston this Sunday marks Israel's
In keeping with my musical focus, Dear Reader, I point you to Israel's wish to kiss and make up with the Beatles. Huh?
Forty-three years after canceling the group's concert date in Israel, the country plans to deliver letters of apology to the two surviving members and to relatives of the dead Beatles, an official in Israel's embassy in London told Agence France-Presse. In addition, the survivors, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, were expected to be invited to perform in May at Israel's 60th anniversary celebrations.
The Hebrew-language Israeli newspaper Yediot Aharonot reported that the letter of apology said: "We would like to take this opportunity to rectify a historic missed opportunity, which unfortunately took place in 1965 when you were invited to Israel. Unfortunately the State of Israel canceled your performance in the country due to lack of budget and because several politicians in the Knesset had believed at the time that your performance might corrupt the minds of Israeli youth." Imagine that.
Closer to these shores, the Jewish Federation of Ulster County will use Sunday, May 4 as a day of celebration. Full of music, arts and words, the daylong affair will feature the music of Aliza Hava, Bob Cohen and friends and of course the Vanaver folks, creating music and, naturally, Israeli folk dance. All the action takes place from 1 to 5:30 p.m. on the Kingston riverfront, a/k/a the Strand, with the Midtown Center as a rain option. For more information, call (845) 338-8131 or log onto www.ucjf.org
@ Bob Margolis