Reggae in the Desert, Mandalay Bay and AEG Live are bringing you their first ever two-day music festival, Reggae On The Bay!
October 1st Line-Up: Common Kings, Freddie McGregor, Sister Carol, Lady Reiko, and DJ Green Lion
October 2nd Line-Up: J. Boog, Maxi Priest, Hirie, Fortunate Youth, and DJ Green Lion
Common Kings produce phenomenal pop hits with rock, reggae, R&B and classic soul influences. Lead singer JR King (Hawaii/Samoa), guitarist Taumata Grey (Samoa), bassist Ivan Kirimaua (Fiji/Kiribati), drummer Jerome Taito (Tonga) and keyboardist Erik Pryztulski (Korea/Poland) grew up in dynamic households filled with vibrant passion for music. The Kings individual musical journeys were inspired by artists like Van Morrison, Stevie Wonder, George Benson, Jim Croce, Michael Jackson, The Who, Led Zeppelin, Gypsy Kings, Earth Wind & Fire and many traditional artists from the islands. The band's resulting original sound is a collection of these varied musical and cultural inspirations orchestrated into an array of head-rocking beats, feel-good rhythms, and emotional fervor. Their fun-loving attitude and "good vibes" high energy projects loud and clear during Common Kings' live performance experience. With lead-singer Sasualei "JR King" Maliga in the forefront, Common Kings possesses one of the most naturally gifted and powerfully impressive singers in the game today. Graced with a distinctive, raw, organic talent, JR's vocal ability appears boundless as he amazes listeners with his welcoming tone, wide range of rich notes, infectious melodies, and soulful passion. In the studio daily recording their first Common Kings EP, writing like mad with incredible producers and shooting hot new videos, their "formative years" as princes have come to a close and the Common Kings are stepping into their royal rule. You want to follow these leaders.
Of the legendary, first-generation reggae pioneers that remain with us, very few have a résumé as deep or a career as celebrated as that of Freddie McGregor—a man who has not only been a part of reggae music through every stage of its development, but has also helped to shape it at virtually every stage.
Freddie was on the scene from the earliest days of ska; as a seven-year-old boy he joined the popular duo the Clarendonians, standing on a crate onstage in order to sing his harmony parts into the adult-sized microphone. Having established his vocal talent and his stagecraft at such an early age, he then went on to record for the legendary Studio One during the glory days of rock steady and early reggae, singing for the Generation Gap and for the great Soul Syndicate band. This was the period during which his voice fully matured into the instantly-recognizable vehicle of smooth and soulful uplift known to millions of music lovers today. It was also a time of development for his songwriting skill; romantic reggae ballads like "Go Away Pretty Girl" and "What Difference Does It Make" emerged during this period, while he also continued working behind other artists as both a drummer and a backup singer.
After he converted to Rastafarianism in his late teens, his musical vision shifted focus: with the help of legendary guitarist Earl "Chinna" Smith (with whom Freddie had worked in the Soul Syndicate) he began to produce more serious work, including such classics of the roots-and-culture genre as "Rastaman Camp" and "Mark of the Beast," and went on to make more great records with Niney the Observer, Coxsone Dodd, and Linval Thompson. At the end of the 1980s he established his own recording studio and record label, called Big Ship, and produced early recordings by up-and-coming conscious reggae artists of the time like Mikey Spice and Luciano.
Reggae music is filled with talented singers, but few who have both the vocal technique and a natural instrument to compare with those of Freddie McGregor. Equally adept as a romantic crooner and a powerful deliverer of strong cultural messages, Freddie has a voice unlike any other, one that he forged from influences both Jamaican and American, in particular the sounds of Philly-style soul music. Some of his early hits were covers of American soul singles, such as the Main Ingredient's "Just Don't Want to Be Lonely" and Tyrone Davis's "Can I Change My Mind."
With Di Captain, an album four years in the making, Freddie McGregor takes his rightful place once again at the front rank of modern roots reggae artists. The album's title refers slyly to his continued status as captain of the Big Ship production complex, and a quick glance at the song credits and the list of contributing musicians shows how long and successful the Captain's voyage has been. Members of Jamaica's studio A-list are here, from the great bass-and-drum duos of Mafia & Fluxy and Steely & Clevie to session aces like saxophonist Dean Fraser and keyboardist Carlton "Bubblers" Ogilvie. Former Heptones frontman Leroy Sibbles lends his talents as a bass player on several tracks, including Freddie's excellent version of the Heptones hit "Equal Rights." Up-and-coming artists Etana and Gappy Ranks join their voices to Freddie's on a couple of tracks as well, and Freddie has great praise for them: he says that listening to Gappy Ranks ride the rhythm on "Standing Strong" (a remake of Freddie's 1980s hit "Bobby Bobylon") takes him back to the glory days of roots reggae, while he feels that on their version of the Everly Brothers' "Let It Be Me," he and Etana managed to "recapture a groove that was wonderful and bouncy and dancey—she puts so much soul into that song you would think she was the original artist."
Apart from the sheer quality of the songs and the performances on Di Captain, listeners will also notice a thread of deep concern for the state of the world and the world's young people running through this program. "These songs were very specially chosen," Freddie says. "We took the greatest pains in making sure these would be classic songs that will last for a long time. I chose songs like 'Equal Rights' because I love the message and because the youth need to hear it. We made a special effort to keep it as grass-roots as we can."
And that nicely summarizes the contribution Freddie McGregor has made, and continues to make, to reggae music and the world: his is a deep and multifaceted talent with roots extending back to the earliest days of this music, but he is dedicated to moving it into the future with hope and positivity. "Bob Marley took this music to a real high level," he observes, "and we should all try to keep it there." The Captain of the Big Ship is doing just that.
Lady Reiko has performed many locations throughout Hawaii, Las Vegas & California spreading her infectious positive spirit amongst both reggae lovers and non alike. Her powerful sultry voice transcends genres giving Lady Reiko the special ability to appeal to any crowd. She has been blessed with the opportunity to share the stage with many talented headliners including: Marcia Griffiths, Collie Buddz, Kymani Marley, Don Carlos, BushMan, The Wailing Souls, Barrington Levy, j-Boog, Three Houses Down, Tribal Seeds, The Mighty Diamonds, Natural Vibrations, J-Boog and many more!
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