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Reggae Mistress brings on the good vibrations

MANILA, Philippines – Reggae Mistress is not your typical reggae band. First, they’re fronted by a female vocal trio. Secondly, they’re Filipino. These two facts alone should get your reggae antennae moving.

Formed by Rene (“Chong”) Tengasantos and wife Irma (“Chang”) Tengasantos back in 2002, Reggae Mistress started as an idea: why not have a reggae band with a distinctly Pinoy flavor? And hey, why not put women in front? It was a fresh take on the music in a largely male-dominated scene. Inspired by the I Threes — Bob Marley’s backup vocalists Rita Marley, Judy Mowatt and Marcia Griffith — Chang is joined by daughter Lady I and niece Ira on vocals. Three little birds, indeed. Husband and father Chong meanwhile had honed his drumming skills in one of the Philippines’ first reggae bands, Reggae Eurasia. Read more

Reggae legend Lee Scratch Perry is cosmic. And now likes BitTorrent

Reggae luminary and cosmic traveller Lee Scratch Perry is embracing BitTorrent technology at 78 years of age.

Perry has worked with nearly every reggae legend as a producer, writer, and composer spanning a 50-plus year career — he was one of the first to produce Bob Marley in the early 1970s in Jamaica — and now he’s released his first song on BitTorrent, a new track called “Jesus is a Soul Man.” It marks a seismic shift for the singer.

Perry’s enthusiasm for BitTorrent technology dovetails with the new documentary about his colorful life. The film is called “The Upsetter: The Life and Music of Lee Scratch Perry.”

Academy Award winner Actor Benecio Del Toro narrates the film.

According to the film promoters:

Filmmakers Ethan Higbee and Adam Bhala Lough spent seven years documenting the strange world of Scratch Perry; and another three self-distributing the film to over 80 theaters across the globe. Their film, The Upsetter, narrated by Academy Award-winning actor Benicio Del Toro, is Scratch’s story, his footage, and his words: an uncommon look at one of music’s (maybe last) true eccentrics and agitators.

Perry — called Scratch by his friends – has embraced cutting edge technology since he launched his career in the late 1960s. He’s known as a studio wizard who makes magic happen and was one of the first reggae titans to use a computer in the sound room.

The BitTorrent move makes perfect sense. The peer-to-peer file sharing protocol is one of the easiest ways to transmit and distribute large data files on the Net.

Long live the disrupter!

Reggae poster contest opens on Int’l Reggae Day

In an age where music is as much seen as heard, on July 1 there will be yet another combination of sight and sound in the long history of Jamaican popular music.

One side of the union – International Reggae Day (IRD) – has a much longer track record, having been started in 1994 by Andrea Davis of Jamaica Arts Holdings. New kid on the block is the International Reggae Poster Contest (IRPC), started by Jamaican graphic artist Michael Thompson and Greek designer Maria Papaefstathiou in 2011. Read more