Music

Classic roots rock reggae

Black Uhuru brings Waterhouse reggae to the KTAOS Solar Center

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For half a century, Black Uhuru has been keeping island rhythms alive as one of the most widely recognized and beloved reggae bands to come out of Jamaica.

The roots of Black Uhuru go back to the late 1960s in Kingston’s Waterhouse district. In 1984, the band became the first to win a Grammy Award for reggae music for its album, “Anthem.” Ten years later, the group won the Diamonds Awards of Excellence, becoming the only reggae band to do so.

Black Uhuru is planning a show Sunday (Sept. 24) at 9 p.m. at the KTAOS Solar Center, 9 State Road 150, north of El Prado.

The current members of Black Uhuru are founder and leader Derrick “Duckie” Simpson and longtime member Andrew “Bees” Beckford. Other members are Horace “King Hopeton” Campbell on keyboard, Danny “Axemon” Thompson on bass, Alton “Sandrum” Vanhorne on drums, Frank Stepanek on guitar and Elsa Green singing backing vocals. The Taos show will open with Onesty, a Belgian singer.

If you haven’t yet been to a Black Uhuru show, you might be interested in what agent Mike Gener has to say about what to expect. “The live shows are full of vibes! Classic roots rock reggae at its best – for the elders and the youth. Also, our opening singer, Onesty, is not to be missed,” says Gener.

Gener runs Black Uhuru’s official website, manages the band’s merchandise and helps with booking.

“It’s a long story how I got involved,” he said. “I first met up with Duckie in 2009 when I visited Jamaica with my close friend, M.C. ‘Rocky’ Bailey, after graduating college and we just kept in contact since. I used to manage a Caribbean restaurant called Coconuts in Palo Alto and would bring the band food when they would tour. In 2015, we started working on this new album while Duckie was living in Northern California and since then, I’ve been in the crew. The second reggae show I went to was a Black Uhuru concert in 2002 with Sly and Robbie and the first LP vinyl record I ever bought was the album ‘Red’ – and I haven’t stopped listening since.”

Gener travels on the road with the band and is the executive producer for its upcoming album, “As the World Turns,” which will be released early next year.

The album was mixed at Ajang Studio in Kingston and mastered by Gussie Clarke at Anchor Studio, also in Kingston. “Jah Guide” was released as a single, and the music video was viewed 100,000 times in the first month, noted Gener. “Jah Guide” is a tribute to Peter Tosh and features a collaboration with the artist Bugle.

Most of the band’s focus this past year has been on its new album. Black Uhuru also had a small tour in Hawaii, which included four shows in Honolulu at the Blue Note Club. The group also played at a festival in Mexico and a few shows in Jamaica. Duckie, Bees and Michael Rose recently performed together at the Reggae Geel Festival in Geel, Belgium.

With the release of “As the World Turns” next year, Black Uhuru is planning on a world tour. In January, the band will be in New Zealand for the One Love Festival in Tauranga.

Tickets are $20 in advance through ktao.com or $25 day of the show.

For more information, call the venue at (575) 758-5826 or visit Black Uhuru on Facebook or at blackuhuruofficial.com.

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