New Kingston and Friends Pay Tribute to Bob Marley at SOB’s
On February 6, New York City music fans received a special treat. Before embarking on a “Rock 2 Roots Tour,” New Kingston headlined a Bob Marley Tribute Concert at SOBs. The band that independently released their debut album “In The Streets,” in 2011, now headlines at this legendary venue recurrently, and was filled with excitement for this special tribute. New Kingston released their sophomore album “Kingston University” with Ineffable Records in 2013. Their consecutive albums, “Kingston City” and “A Kingston Story: Come From Far,” were released by the record label, the group is currently signed to, Easy Star Records. Michael Goldwasser, Director of A&R at Easy Star Records and staff were in the building to show their full support, for one of New York’s most beloved family band. More After The Jump…
In this article, we will report on the flow of this concert, followed by an in-depth interview of each member of New Kingston
“I’ve seen New Kingston evolve since even before their debut album when they were coming up as young musicians. They continue to sharpen their skills as singers, musicians, songwriters, and performers through diligent work towards being the best band that they can be. It’s very fitting that New Kingston is headlining the NYC Bob Marley birthday celebration. Bob opened the eyes and ears of the world to reggae music, and New Kingston honors his legacy by being the premiere reggae group of Jamaican origin in the current U.S. reggae scene, combining traditional JA vibes with many other influences to bring more and more people into the fold.” – Michael Goldwasser, Director of A & R at Easy Star Records
Fans waited in great anticipation, most arriving when the doors opened at 7PM. DJ Nyah and DJ Ak provided a listening pleasure of crucial tunes from the legends of reggae and the new revolution artists. Songs like“ Big Ship” by Freddie McGregor, “Sitting and Watching “ by Dennis Emmanuel Brown, “Hush Darling” by Gregory Isaacs, “Skanking” by Chronixx, warmed up the crowd.
Pat McKay, Director of Programming of Reggae and Gospel at Sirius XM Satellite Radio opened the show by welcoming the crowd, thanking them for their presence and amped up the crowd for a spectacular show.
The first song of the night was “The Heathen” by Bob Marley and the Wailer, featuring the legendary guitarist, Andy Bassford. New Kingston went on to deliver “Crazy Baldheads,” and their original tune, “Come From Far.” This was followed by a cover of Third World’s, “96 Degrees,” “Watch Yourself,” “Protect Me,” and “Honorable.” Then one by one, New Kingston welcomed their guest artists on stage to honor the King of Reggae. This was an impressive ensemble, carefully selected to include both seasoned artists and rising stars. The audience could appreciate the variation in styles as each one owned their particular rendition of a Bob Marley song. Unique to this concert was a balance in the female presence, which you rarely see in any concert, especially reggae unless it’s an all female line up.
Concert Highlights included Worl- A-Girl hitting the SOBs stage together after 28 years. Co-hosts Kufunya Ife and Michi Boo provided an introduction to this all-female group, and the ladies took the stage like they never left it. The delivered a Doo Wop version of “No Woman No Cry,” followed by an energetic performance of “Iron Lion Zion.”
Sophie Walsh west African choreography to “Africa Unite,” in conjunction with Congo Drums. Keisha Martin brought down the lights with “Turn Your Lights Down Low.” Emprezz Jay delivered a soothing rendition of “Natural Mystic” with enormous stage presence.
Crowd favorite “Rkhty” delivered a Jazmine Sullivan like, sultry, rhythm and blues fused with reggae rendition of “Is This Love.” Next Up was Joanne Williams with a sensational rendition of “Could You Be Loved.”
Ras Droppa sang a ground-shaking performance of “Wake Up and Live,” followed by Obasi Jackson, who gave a memorable and vivid performance of “Waiting in Vain.” Lion Melta sang “Jamming” and fellow Brooklyn artist, Ishmael Levi (of British Dependency ) sang “Concrete Jungle.” The latter featured a Jimmy Hendrix like solo by Andy Bassford. “There was a poetic interlude, prior to Elijah Rocq , hitting the stage to perform, “Exodus.”
Two bands Royal Khaos and Earth Kry were featured in the lineup. Royal Khaos, sang “Roots, Rock, Reggae,” and Earth Kry, just landing from Jamaica, performed “Crazy Baldheads,” and “We and Dem.”
Derrick Barnett, the founder of Statement Band, was joined on the stage by Gary Nesta Pine, of the Wailers for a crowd moving performance of, “Who The Cap Fit.”Ed Robinson, joined Barnett and Pine on stage, and sang “Talkin Blues.” Fans sang the lyrics to these songs in unison.
The show ended with New Kingston welcoming all their guests on stage to sing “Three Little Birds.” The combination of great deejays, skilled musicians, a thoughtful – line up of artists and stellar live performances made this a NYC night to remember.
Interviews with Each Member of New Kingston
Interview with Tahir Panton on New Kingston’s Mindful Lyrics
Angel: Bless up Tahir. How is New Kingston different from every other band?
Tahir: Bless up Angel, we were born and raised in Brooklyn, New York and perform reggae music, so there is an edge to our sound. My father, Courtney Panton was born in Kingston, Jamaica and this has had a large influence on our music as well; so we grew up with the culture.
Angel: “That’s Why We Push Ourselves, Making Sure We Write A Better Story” – heavy weight lyrics from the song Honorable- Tell us about the inspiration behind this song.
Tahir: Everyday a page of our book is being written, what your doing will be documented, so we are mindful today on making the decision and moving forward for a cause and greater mission.
Angel: On a lot of songs, you do conscious reggae rap, what are your favorite New Kingston songs and why?
Tahir: You call it reggae rap, but for me it’s just deejaying, because we were deejaying since we were in high school. My favorite songs are “Solid As Rock,” “Kingston Fyah,” and “Come From Far.” These songs really capture who we are and where we are musically. Our father groomed us for almost two decades to put out conscious and relevant lyrics.
Angel: I call you the “Quiet Storm” of the group because you have serious lyrical content on your verses. In many cases sounds like you are having a conversation with the listener.
Tahir: More time, I’m talking to myself, reminding myself of what’s important and then it comes out like I am speaking to the listener. But we are all mirror reflections of each other, so when I speak about my experiences, you may have had similar experiences as well.
Angel: That’s an interesting way to write songs and makes the lyrics transparent and relatable to your audience. Thank you for sharing with Boomshots.
Tahir: Thank you Angel.
“More time, I’m talking to myself, reminding myself of what’s important and then it comes out like I am speaking to the listener. But we are all mirror reflections of each other, so when I speak about my experiences, you may have had similar experiences as well.” – Tahir Panton
Interview with Courtney Panton, Jr. on New Kingston Paying Homage to Bob Marley
Angel: Bless up Courtney Panton Jr.
Courtney Jr.: Bless up Angel
Angel: It takes a lot of technical mastery to drum and sing vocals, how would you describe your experience performing live?
Courtney Jr: I close my eyes when I play and it’s like I go into my own world, I detach from everything and I am in my own world. You call it mastery, but for me it’s fun and has become so much a part of who I am.
Angel: Who are the top drummers who inspire you?
Courtney Jr: Steve Gad, Tony Royster Jr, Don Henley, founding member of the Eagles.
Angel: How do you want to make your mark musically?
Courtney Jr: I like that question! I have to thank our fans for keeping us strong and keeping us going, providing a platiform to send messages musically. I want to continue to write great songs that reason with people and help them to vibrate higher.
Angel: Why is the Bob Marley Tribute Concert important to you?
Courtney Jr: This concert will have a wide array of New York City Talent, paying homage to the music legend Bob Marley. Bob Marley is one of the most revered artist in music now and forever. To be able to pay respects to him is a great honor. We are preparing to go on tour but performing in general and seeing people’s reaction, energy and love is exhilarating. We are grateful to share in Bob Marley’s dedication, love and mission to spread reggae music and Rastafari, globally. He is like a family member and his music is embraced by everyone.
Angel: Thank you Courtney
Courtney Panton Jr. : Thank you, Angel.
“Bob Marley is one of the most revered artist in music now and forever. To be able to pay respects to him is a great honor. We are preparing to go on tour but performing in general and seeing people’s reaction, energy and love is exhilarating. We are grateful to share in Bob Marley’s dedication, love and mission to spread reggae music and Rastafari, globally. He is like a family member and his music is embraced by everyone.”– Courtney Panton Jr.
Interview with Stephen Suckarie on Courtney Panton’s Vision
Angel: Bless up Stephen Suckarie. How do you contribute to this group in a unique way?
Suckarie: Bless, you can call me Suckarie, well we all have different takes on music and different experiences. I am older than my brothers and grew up in Jamaica, so I bring my individual experience and point of view.
Angel: Tell us about the inspiration behind the song, “Protect Me”?
Suckarie: That’s song is so organic. We were with Producer Relly in the studio, and vibing to this track that had the “Wailing Souls” vocals on it and just began to reason about life, the struggles therein and guidance. Big up Fada P, because he really groomed us in way through his experiences and somehow his influence came out inna some way. We all bring something individually and then we are also family and friends. When we were growing up, a lot of what he was saying in terms of the technicality of the music and consciousness of the lyrics, would go in one ear and out the other it seemed. But reflecting back, it was still penetrating into our soul and existence, so “Protect Me” is preserving everything he taught us and asking Jah for clarity and guidance.
Angel: Do you classify yourself as a Rasta or Spiritual?
Suckarie: I grew up in a Catholic household, but I grew up with Rasta Culture too. My Grandparents owned a bar in Stony Hill, well Golden Spring at the foot of “Clark’s Hill”, and a lot of musicians and nuff Rastaman would pass through, reason and call fi me, Miss Kerr Grandson, fi come play dominoes. It was a very unique upbringing. My religion is life and living it positively. Like Ziggy Marley said, “Love is my religion.”
Angel: How do you think the group has evolved from “Can’t Give Up” to “Kingston Fyah’?
Suckarie: We have grown so much, life is totally different. Old struggles changed and we also gained new ones. As a group, we have been honing our craft and working to find our niche in music. I have to salute Courtney Panton, because he started this all, taught us to play instruments and had a vision about touring globally, way before it manifested. New Kingston is carrying on what he started. As we move forward and go on tour, we carry his mantle, stretch it and keep rising, adding to the vision every time.
“As a group, we have been honing our craft and working to find our niche in music. I have to salute Courtney Panton, because he started this all, taught us to play instruments and had a vision about touring globally, way before it manifested. New Kingston is carrying on what he started. As we move forward and go on tour, we carry his mantle, stretch it and keep rising, adding to the vision every time. “–Suckarie
Angel: Thank you Stephen
Suckarie: Yes, thank you too, it was a good reasoning.
Interview with Courtney Panton Sr. on Founding New Kingston
Angel: Greetings, Mr. Panton, how did this musical journey begin for you?
Courtney Panton Sr.: Greetings Angel! Do you have time?
Angel: Yes I’m very interested in your story, especially after speaking with your sons.
Courtney Panton Sr.: Well, as a youngster I began playing the Congo Drums with Cedric Brooks & United Africa, where I developed the skill. I attended the Edna Manley College of Visual & Performing Arts (formerly known as the Jamaica School of Music) in Kingston, Jamaica. It was there that I learned to play my secondary instrument, bass guitar. After I left school, I entered the hotel circuit for a number of years. In 1987, I came to New York City, where I operated a studio called, “Kingston Studio,” and formed a band which was called “Kingston Crew.” I would manage my time between both, ensuring things flowed simultaneously. After a while, my peers and I found it difficult to accomplish what we had initiated as a band, so I began focusing on spending more time in my studio. On my way home one day from the studio, I saw my children in the streets and I became very concerned. I immediately decided to put all projects, both with the band and my studio on pause, and began to bond with my sons. My interaction with them revealed that they were interested in music and my expertise in the music industry, and that additionally sparked a fire to teach them all I had garnered over the years.
Angel: What were some of the struggles you faced as a father, creating New Kingston, while your sons were evolving from Princes to Kings?
Courtney Panton, Sr.: I faced the same struggles that all parents face, trying to get a child to understand that they have to work hard at what they do to attain their goals. I’ve learned that in everything, you must research, invest time, and learn as much as you can. There is absolutely no excuse to not succeed. The more you practice, the more skilled you become and the better your earnings. I don’t believe in just scratching the surface – I’ve exposed my children to the fullness of my knowledge so they are able to apply this to their own lives; with an understanding of who they are, and their roles and responsibilities. I must share that, it took a really long time for people to catch on to “New Kingston,” but the journey was well worth it. They are reaping the benefits of their hard work.
Angel: Why is this Bob Marley Tribute Concert special for you?
Courtney Panton Sr.: One of the many things that makes this concert special for me is the impact of Bob Marley’s music to date. In 1972, as a teenager, I remember being on stage while he performed, at the National Heroes Park in Kingston, Jamaica, and that has stood out in my mind over the years. He was a gifted musician and writer. No matter what ethnicity, race or class, Bob’s lyrics continue to bring people together in harmony and is presented in an art form that is easy to understand.
Also, I’ve been close association with his work, in that, I was contracted by Rita Marley, as an engineer, to transfer Bob Marley’s tapes into digital media. I transferred 350 songs at Tuff Gong Studio, where the actual music was created. It was an absolute honor transferring this music and hearing him actual talking on the recordings, was eerie yet spiritually enlightening. I could really appreciate the technicality of music and as a musical composer and arranger. His compositions were well penned in a timeless way. You can tell that he was lyrically expressing his life experiences.
Angel: You contribution to music and what you have done for your sons is so admirable. Thank you Mr. Panton.
Courtney Panton: Yes, I’m grateful, appreciate your time Angel.
“In 1972, as a teenager, I remember being on stage while he performed, at the National Heroes Park in Kingston, Jamaica, and that has stood out in my mind over the years. He was a gifted musician and writer. No matter what ethnicity, race or class, Bob’s lyrics continue to bring people together in harmony and is presented in an art form that is easy to understand.
Also, I’ve been close association with his work, in that, I was contracted by Rita Marley, as an engineer, to transfer Bob Marley’s tapes into digital media. I transferred 350 songs at Tuff Gong Studio, where the actual music was created. It was an absolute honor transferring this music and hearing him actual talking on the recordings, was eerie yet spiritually enlightening. I could really appreciate the technicality of music and as a musical composer and arranger. His compositions were well penned in a timeless way. You can tell that he was lyrically expressing his life experiences.” – Courtney Panton Sr.
Photographs by Roland Hyde
Written By: Angel Love
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