5 Questions with Rags #50 - Mike Love

It could be argued that with the rise of dancehall, reggae music has strayed a long way from its roots. Inarguably, a lot of the new reggae that has managed to make it into the popular consciousness has seemingly lost its way, preoccupied with nights on the dancefloor and the amounts of weed one is going to smoke. But this is reggae and there will always be people making compassionate, intelligent reggae music. At the forefront of the new Roots movement is Hawaiian reggae troubadour Mike Love. His music – released entirely independently through his label, Love Not War Records – is rooted in those traditional reggae/Rasta ideals, while doing entirely new things with sound via his looping-station, powerful voice and ever-changing live configuration. His is the reggae of Love, Peace, Justice and an unyielding admiration for the Earth that we all call home. His YouTube videos have garnered him a worldwide audience of peace-seekers looking for something a bit deeper from their music. Rags Music was lucky enough to catch up with the good homie for a chat before he makes his way up to our home on the Canadian west coast for the first time. If you get a chance to see this guy live, make sure you jump on it. Your ears and your soul will thank me.

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1. When's the last time you did something for the first time?

I think every day I try to do something new. It's one of the most important parts of life. Seeing new places, doing new things, experimenting with new things. Even when we're playing music we're always trying to do new stuff. There are some songs that we've played thousands of times and keeping them fresh, being able to keep playing them and be excited to play them, means trying new things all the time. That's life too. If you just do the same thing day in and day out, you become stagnant. Trying and learning new things is so important. I think that's what's what the system tries to get us doing, is having these routines and doing the same things every day.

2. Do you remember the first album you bought with your own money?

There was a couple. I think it was ...And Justice For All by Metallica and Bad by Michael Jackson. That was the first thing I got on tape. I had a cool older sister was into a lot of different stuff and I just sort of followed her.

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5 Questions with Rags #36 - Michael Goldwasser, aka GOLDSWAGGER

If you’ve been keeping up with reggae in the last decade, you’ve probably come across the name Michael Goldwasser. One of the founders of Easy Star Records and architects all of those wonderful Easy Star All Stars records everyone loves so much (Radiodread, Dub Side of the Moon, Thrillah, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Dub Band), Goldwasser is one of the most knowledgable and passionate musicians I’ve come across in my years of writing and learning about music. He taught me about reggae is, within itself, a Jewish music. But it’s not just reggae music the dude knows. He knows his funk, his groove. That love of deep groove has birthed his latest creation, GOLDSWAGGER. This stuff is straight harddiscofunk fire, slathered in wet, sticky soul. Recorded properly, with live instruments and real musicians.

1. Do you remember the first album you bought with your own money?

I can’t say it was 100% my own money, but it was the first album I ever chose to buy…I’ve never done this before or since, but I ordered this album from a television ad. It was called Living In These Star Warz. It was music inspired by Star Wars. In my imagination as a little kid, I somehow thought it was going to be STAR WARS. But really, what it turned out to be – man, I wish I could find this album. Maybe it’s at my parents’ house, but it’s not in my record collection – but it turned out to be songs inspired by Star Wars. There was a song called “A Respirator for Darth Vader.” It was kind of “Another One Bites the Dust” vibe, but with a lot of heavy breathing. There was a song called “Chewie the Rookie Wookie,” that I still remember. And the theme song, the title track, “Living in These Star Warz.” I thought it was so cool – music that I love and Star Wars.

The first single I bought was “It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me” by Billy Joel which is kind of hilarious because I don’t really listen to rock ‘n’ roll or care about it as a genre. I knew that song because my sister liked Billy Joel and she had all the albums so I would hear it in the house. But I also had a counselor at my day camp who loved that song and used to make all the campers in my group sing it all the time. That’s the power of music. They say if you can get someone to hear a song 10 times they’ll think that they like it, whether they do or not. That’s why you have recording companies paying to have songs on the radio. I don’t know why but I remember thinking that I had to buy the record and I bought the ’45 single of “It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me.”

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5 Questions with Rags #9 - DJ Dubconscious

If you've been around electronic music in BC for any length of time or if you've made the trek to the EDM-mecca that is Shambhala, you're probably at least passingly familiar with the name Dubconscious. Dude makes some tasty, reggae-based music that never fails to energize and dose the listener with positivity. He's a fixture on the Living Room Stage at Shambhala, the chillest zone at the festival. He had been on my radar for the 5 Questions for a little while now and when he got me confused on ye olde Facebook with another person who goes by "Rags" (WTF?!), I took the opportunity to test his interest and BOOM! It happened.

Catch the good homey Dubconscious playing with Moontricks in Vancouver on Friday, Jan.23 at the Electric Owl at the monthly "Kootenay Time" show. Check the FB page for the show info.

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1. If the world was about to end and you go to anywhere in the world and grab one piece of culture what would you grab? And you can’t say the Internet, because a couple people have done that and I’ve closed that loophole

I would say soundsystem culture and Jamaican reggae heritage. Soundclashes, vintage reggae, 45s, deejaying and toasting and roots reggae. That’s kind of the one thing that comes to mind.

If you could only take one guy’s Soundsystem who would you poach it from?

If I was going to cover all my bases and it was only going to be one it would be David Rodigan. He’s been huge in reggae/dancehall  for a long time but now he’s kind of adjusted with the times and keep himself updated, rolling with Chase Status and Shy FX and that stuff. So I think that would be my #1.

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I'm back because it's time to get ready for Garden City Grooves.

I haven’t been around here much. It’s been a busy summer. There has been a lot of music to check out and discover and good times to be had. Fuck, I don’t need to explain myself to you! Ahem…The rain has come back to Victoria, probably closer to the “Summer’s-gone-for-good” kind of rain. It is time to wind down. But not really, because we still have this…

Even in the sea of exhaustion and near concert-burnout I can’t help but get excited for this. LAST YEAR WAS SO MUCH FUN. But it can be hard to get it up for a roster of acts so obscure that you might consider yourself lucky to know even one of them. See, the fine folks behind Garden City Grooves are, like myself, gigantic music nerds. They read liner notes to see who played what on a given track. They track releases by small labels they trust. Etc, etc…We know these definitions, yes? I can move on? Good.

I’ve come back out of hibernation to help you get ready for three super-duper groovy nights in my lovely home base of Victoria. Really, I’m just letting you see me get myself ready because until a few weeks ago I only knew a couple of the acts on here.  

DUTCH ROBINSON (of the Ohio Players)

Sometimes I get leery when I see a member of a once prominent band on a marquee with their former band name anywhere near. It reeks of has-been. BUT THIS RULE DOES NOT APPLY TO SOUL MUSICIANS. Soul is just too timeless and all that. And come on, The Ohio Players! That’s some legendary shit right there.

Brother ain’t resting on his laurels either and is producing and releasing his own stuff. Though the site that’s supposed to host the album for sale, www.downloaddutch.com has not been down for at least the last couple of weeks as of this writing.

I don’t know what you’d call this…it’s kind of adult contemporary jazz, but it’s most definitely soul, not much funk on this one. Let’s just call it CLASS. Dude lives in Vancouver (After spending 20 years on the East Coast) and this will be his first time in Victoria. Pretty stoked on this one.

Kárà-Kátà

I don’t know much about afro-beat music. I mean, I know Féla because I’m a human being that likes music. I know Ali Farka Touré because I have a friend who was fairly obsessed with him at some point. I really love Paul Simon’s Graceland. Apart from that my knowledge is essentially non-existent. But it’s undeniably fun, groovy stuff. Some of the best dancing I’ve ever had is to afro-beat groups I could never in a million years name for you. Again, I know nothing of these cats but if you’re looking for something to get loose to, I can’t imagine going wrong with this.

The Steadies

How in the fuck does reggae music have any influence in Saskatchewan!? It makes no sense to me at all, but this is pretty sweet stuff. It’s slick and funky and sugary and seems like a pretty awesome way to start out this festival’s opening night. This just keeps getting crazier…Earl Periera of Wide Mouth Mason is the bass player and singer in this band. This is blowing my mind!! I like a band that puts in miles and according to their bio they play over 100 shows a year. This is shaping up to be something to get excited about.

Downtown Mischief is a very large group of local cats who I have no beef with. I saw them at Ska Fest and they were pretty fun. The everything-but-the-kitchen sink approach is something I fluctuate pretty wildly with. There’s an undeniable energy about these guys though and it’s pretty hard not to want to dance at least a little bit.

I wish I had a lot more information to give you, dear music lovers, but alas, I do not. All I can do is remind you that this is a festival run by people who genuinely love music and want to bring you sounds that make your rump shake and your soul feel good.  I'll be moving my ass and you should be too!

Get a FULL FESTIVAL PASS FOR ONLY $33.33 at gardencitygrooves.com

I think about Bob Marley on his birthday and would like to share some of those thoughts.

"Bob Marley became the voice of third world pain and resistance, the sufferer in the concrete jungle who would not be denied forever. Outsiders everywhere heard Marley as their own champion; if he could make himself heard, so could they, without compromises. In 2096, when the former third world has overrun and colonised the former superpowers, Bob Marley will be commemorated as a saint." - John Parales

Few albums have the ability to grate my nerves like Legend. For the longest time I held it as a shining example of everything that people misunderstood about reggae. I knew so many people who had that album, and no other, and claimed to be a fan of reggae. There was no Lee Perry on their shelves. No Burning Spear. No Toots Hibbert. Not even Bunny Wailer or Peter Tosh. It was simply Legend. Every reggae band I saw in concert had at least one Bob Marley song. Street performers all played "Three Little Birds" or "Redemption Song," the latter being especially bothersome as a "guy at the party with the guitar" song. It was Bob Marley overload. Everywhere I went I was inundated with Marley and his most famous songs. I began to actively avoid and resent not just Legend, but the entire Marley cannon. Then one day I was in the record store and I was compelled for some unknown reason to pick up Burnin', the seminal Wailers record. This was shortly after I had begun smoking cannabis on a regular basis and by the time the final notes of what is now my favourite Marley song, "Rastaman Chant," came to an end I knew I had fallen into a serious rabbit hole.

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