Morgan Heritage – “Down By The River”

How about some feel good, positive vibes?

I have to give a shout out to the mother-in-law for pointing the song out a couple months ago at a restaurant. Out came my iPhone, I tapped on the Shazam app, and there was my answer: “Down by the River” by Morgan Heritage – a group of five family members who split their time between Jamaica and Brooklyn.

If the chorus doesn’t make you feel irie and have you grooving along by the end, then wake up…

Jah bless.

Morgan Heritage – Down By The River

Check out the album Down By The River.

Hometown Tunes: McDowell Mountain Music Festival

As an Arizona resident for the last sixteen years, there are a handful of things I look forward to each year – one is October, when the triple digit heat finally gives up and goes away for eight months or so. Another is Spring Training baseball – AZ is home to the Cactus League, where 14 major league teams come to train. Quickly inching its way up the list is the McDowell Mountain Music Festival, two April days of fun in the sun, great music, cold beer, and tasty food – all in my backyard, up in north Scottsdale at the Westworld grounds. I know it’s four and a half months away, but hey, I get excited, okay?

The festy launched a slick new web site today, with some lineup announcements, including Michael Franti & Spearhead as the Friday headliner. The Saturday headliner is yet to be announced, as are a few other slots on the bill. But so far, McDowell has a handful of national acts booked: Railroad Earth, Hot Tuna, New Riders of the Purple Sage, Assembly of Dust, and Young Dubliners.

The two headliners for Saturday are still pending, so I’m expecting that it’ll be worth the wait (I threw in my 2 cents, recommending Band of Horses). It shares the weekend with the first weekend of New Orleans Jazz Fest, which swallows up scores of talent, but I’ll have faith! So far, this year’s lineup hasn’t knocked my socks off, but I find that I always end up enjoying every set regardless – something about Arizona, April, beer, and music.

If you’re in the southwest, come on down… McDowell is still small enough that you won’t get swallowed up in a crowd, the people are great, it’s very well organized, and you may even bump into me as I stumble out of my rented RV! YoW!

McDowell Mountain Music Festival – 2009 (Web Site)

Friday, April 24th

Saturday, April 25th

Two years ago, the Neville Brothers were there, and I shot one of the musical highlights of my life…

Reggae Riddims, Red Stripe, and Ryan

I’ve been in a pretty deep reggae phase lately, branching out and exploring some artists I’m less familiar with: Jacob Miller, the Congos, Bunny Wailer, the Gladiators… if you ever want to get lost and explore some reggae, go to and start up Bunny Wailer Radio, or Culture Radio, or Jacob Miller Radio. Then grab a Red Stripe (or a Guinness), sit back, and enjoy.

The CongosCongoman (mp3) – from Heart of the Congos

Jacob MillerShakey Girl (mp3) – from Collector’s Classics

Have you guys & gals seen Three Sheets yet? It’s already 3 seasons old, but I just started watching a few weeks ago. Zane Lamprey is the brilliant & hilarious host, and he has the enviable job of traveling from country to country, exploring local drinking culture (often followed the morning after by  finding the best local hangover remedy). It’s such a great show, and will have you laughing out loud no more than 3 minutes in.

Check out the Jamaica episode of Three Sheets here on You’ll find out why Guinness is just as popular with the locals as Red Stripe. Trust me, it’s worth your while.

By the way, the channel that hosts Three Sheets, MOJO HD, will be going off the air on December 1st. Worry not, though, Three Sheets will be picked up somewhere, it’s just not clear where yet. Meanwhile you can catch up on all the episodes online for free at Hulu. And if you flip on Mojo today, you’ll land right in the middle of a Three Sheets Marathon. Cheers!

So the other day, I was flipping through my HD channels and came across a show called Music in High Places on Palladia. This episode featured Ryan Adams in Jamaica. Now, I’ve always been a distant admirer of Ryan Adams. I have a few of his records, both solo and with the Cardinals (and I need to get the Whiskeytown albums). But I can feel myself being drawn more and more into his music.

This performance of “Firecracker” on the show was my highlight. I’ve been playing the hell out of this YouTube video since…

Spearhead’s Say Hey (I Love You)

Infectious riddims from Michael Franti & Spearhead‘s brand new record, All Rebel Rockers. M’ lady and I heard this on Sirius Jam On yesterday, and it was immediately flagged and tagged for later consumption. The album was produced by Sly & Robbie, the veteran reggae production team (Black Uhuru, Yellowman, Peter Tosh, Gregory Isaacs, and many more), and recorded mostly in Kingston, Jamaica.


Michael Franti & Spearhead Say Hey (I Love You) [mp3, featuring Cherine Anderson]


Links: Official Site | Watch the Video for “Say Hey (I Love You)” | MySpace

© Photo credit: Mike Schreiber

Review: Citizen Cope with Alice Smith, Live at the Marquee Theater

While a mass of humanity took in Fergie’s (disappointing? gasp!) set across Town Lake at the Tempe Music Festival, we smart ones were filing into the Marquee Theater to take in D.C. / Brooklyn artist Citizen Cope. It was billed on the venue’s web site as “an evening with no support”. But I was pleasantly surprised when a tall, slender female figure took the stage at 8:10 and tore the roof of the joint with a short four song set…

Meet Tiken Jah Fakoly

It’s news stories like this that jump out at me and remind me about the power of music. Tiken Jah Fakoly is a very popular reggae artist in Africa. He’s also very outspoken and apt to speak his mind – qualities that those in power aren’t too fond of in western Africa (and the rest of the world for that matter).

Tiken was born in Côte d’Ivoire, but makes his home now in Mali. Since the early 90’s, his brand of politically and socially active reggae has made him an icon to the oppressed people of the region, and throughout Africa.

Last week, at a concert in Dakar, Senegal, Fakoly spoke out against Senegal President Abdoulaye Wade: “Mr president, if you love Senegal, leave power!” He then launched into “Quitte Le Pouvoir”, which means “leave power”.

The president’s critics say Senegal’s once-bright democratic credentials have been tarnished by Wade’s political maneuvers to position his son to succeed him, the detention without trial of critical journalists and the diminishing power of parliament.

Here was the government’s response to Fakoly’s statements in the concert:

“Following the discourteous statements by the artist Tiken Jah Fakoly regarding our government, the artist is declared persona non grata in Senegal,” read an Interior Ministry ruling broadcast on state television. [Reuters story]

They kicked him out of the country!

I admire people like Tiken. It takes a shitload of courage to speak your mind in many parts of the world. In the struggling nations of west Africa, Tiken Jah Fakoly is one of those leading the charge, risking his neck for the right to stand up for what he believes in.

Tiken Jah FakolyQuitte Le Pouvoir (mp3) – from Coup de Gueule

Tiken Jah’s Official Site

RIP Lucky Dube: 1964-2007

The world loses another great musician. In a senseless & random act of violence, South African reggae star Lucky Dube was shot and killed outside of Johannesburg yesterday in an attempted carjacking – in front of his children, mind you. What a wonderful world we live in…

Lucky isn’t too well known here in the U.S. (at least on the mainstream side of things), but on the other side of the world, the man is HUGE (including Seychelles, where my wife is from).

RIP Lucky Dube.

Lucky DubeTogether as One (mp3)

From his official site….

Lucky Dube was survived by his new wife Zanele and his 7 children Bongi, Nonkululeko, Thokozani, Laura, Siyanda, Philani and his brand new three-month old baby Melokuhle.

Should you wish to send a message of condolence to Lucky’s family, please email or fax on +27 (0) 11 340 9471

Other blogger tributes:


“Back to My Roots”

“It’s Not Easy”