Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Rocksteady @ FIJM

A few years after Motown's Funk Brothers blowout at the Jazz Fest, another group of crack musicians and honeyed vocalists rocked the Place des Festivals. Marcia Griffiths and Judy Mowatt of the I-Threes, Stranger Cole, Ken Boothe, Hopeton Lewis and the Tamlins graced the stage with a 2-hour Jamaican history lesson. Hearing a solid one-drop with a bounce that only comes from a true reggae drummer, with the undiminished vocal blend of the Tamlins, is a wonderfully enjoyable thing.

Each lead vocalist was solid in their own right. Highlights included Stranger Cole indulging in a freakazoid James Brown dance, and Marcia Griffiths' exhortation to indulge the band in a supremely grooving "rub-a-dub stylee." The requisite Bob Marley covers - Marcia and Judy singing "No Woman, No Cry" and "Could You Be Loved," the finale of everyone singing "One Love" - brought me back to my memories of porting in Jamaica off Cruise Ship X. Judy Mowatt attributed the musicality of so many Jamaicans to the grace of God. Montreal was grateful for them to share their gift with us.

Gazette colleagues Jake Shenker and Bernie Perusse have more reviews(incidentally, Bernie and FIJM head honcho André Menard were shaking their tailfeathers with equal, unrivalled enthusiasm); Natasha Hall provides the setlist.

Notes: the crew never actually left the stage for the encores, merely the rest of the singers came out to join those already on stage; the band was tight once they hit their grooves, but some of the entrances, punches, and endings were tighter in the media rehearsal; and special shoutout to Montreal's Mossman, who was instrumental in putting together this project and whose involvement went sadly unacknowledged.

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