Maxi Priest headlines VP Record’s 35th anniversary concert, 6/27, in Central Park

L-R Maxi Priest, Gyptian, Bunji Garlin, Faye Lyons.

L-R Maxi Priest, Gyptian, Bunji Garlin, Faye Lyons will perform at Central Park’s Summerstage today, June 27, 2015.

By Tiffany Mea

VP Records has teamed up with SummerStage to celebrate the label’s 35th year in business. From VP’s artist roster, reggae stars Maxi Priest and Gyptian as well as soca royalty Bunji Garlin and Fay Ann Lyons will take the stage in NYC’s Central Park for this momentous occasion. DJs Bobby Konders and Jabba of Massive B will also provide sounds throughout the day. The free concert kicks off on Saturday, June 27,  from 2:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.

This year marks the 35th anniversary when VP Records’ founders Vincent and his wife Patricia Chin moved their headquarters from Kingston, Jamaica, to Jamaica, New York,  transforming their operations into the largest Caribbean music company worldwide. There will also be a special VP Records 35th anniversary pop-up exhibit entitled A Reggae Music Journey, which designed by acclaimed artist Michael Thompson. The display will be located outside of the event for all the patrons to enjoy.

Maxi Priest.

Maxi Priest.

“VP Records is proud to bring this all-star lineup into the heart of Manhattan. We’re all looking forward to celebrating the 35th anniversary with an historic day of reggae and soca music in the park,” said VP Records Senior Director of Marketing Brian Greenspoon. VP Records co-founder Patricia Chin said: “SummerStage’s 30th Anniversary and VP Records’ 35th Anniversary are significant milestones that we are honored to acknowledge together at the prestigious Central Park venue.”

After 35 years, Miss Pat, as her staff affectionately refers to her, is still very much involved with the day-to-day operations of VP Records.

Following several partnerships with VP Records, The Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) joins the label again as an official sponsor for the event. They will give away travel and merchandise on site. JTB’s Business Development Manager Kris DaCosta says, “the VP Records and SummerStage collaboration is a great fit for us. Reggae music is a huge part of Jamaica’s storied history and this event gives us a great opportunity to share with New Yorkers the good vibes to be had on Island.”

Gyptian

Gyptian

SummerStage is also celebrating their 30th anniversary this year. SummerStage is a program of City Parks Foundation that presents performances of outstanding artistic quality, free of charge, to serve the diverse communities of New York City. To celebrate their 30th anniversary, they have extended the season from May to October, and added more than 20 free shows in Central Park and 15 neighborhood parks across the city.

Maxi Priest and Gyptian performed their latest singles and Patricia Chin appeared on FOX 5 Good Day NY morning show to preview the event on June 26. Patricia Chin also received the Lifetime Achievement Award on June 25 at the 2015 American Association of Independent Music (A2IM) Libera Awards. She is the first female recipient to be presented with this honor.

With over 15 million albums sold worldwide, multiple Grammy nominations and Top 10 Billboard hits (including the No. 1 smash “Close To You”) – the most successful solo act in British reggae history, Maxi Priest, continues to hit the road throughout 2015 in support of his first studio album in almost a decade, Easy To Love (VP Records). Easy To Love is a fine representation of pop, reggae and R&B blended together in one set. The title track was a No. 1 hit on reggae charts last summer, evidence that Maxi Priest has a gift for staying fresh.

Fay Ann Lyons

Fay Ann Lyons

“Hearts Across The World” is a song for our times and pleas for people of all races to love one another. The soulful “Without A Woman” features Jamaican legend Beres Hammond and even echoes the themes and intensity of James Brown’s “It’s A Man’s World.” Maxi continues to tug on women’s heartstrings with irresistible tributes of enduring affection on “Loving You Is Easy,” “Holiday” and his rendition of John Mayer’s “Gravity.
Jamaican reggae singer Gyptian broke into the reggae scene in 2005 with his string of hits like “Serious Times” “Beautiful Lady” and “Mama, Don’t Cry.” He hit international stardom in 2010 with his critically acclaimed album Hold You and its RIAA certified Gold title track (produced by Ricky Blaze), which featured a Nicki Minaj remix, and earned him a 2010 MOBO and Soul Train award.

Gyptian just released his new single “All On Me” and his latest fourth studio album Sex, Love and Reggae, which peaked at #1 on the Billboard Reggae Album chart, is a marked departure from his previous releases and unveils another layer of his artistry. The musically diverse set takes the listener from dancehall to soca to global pop and R&B sounds and features an eclectic mix of production from Jamaica – including Shane C. Brown. Justus Arison and Stanley “Rellee” Hayden, Russian and Linton “TJ” White – and is co-executive produced by Jerry “Wonda” Duplessis (Miguel, Mary J. Blige, Lupe Fiasco, the Fugees).

Bunji Garlin

Bunji Garlin

Born Ian Alvarez, the Trinidadian ragga soca star Bunji Garlin is known for blending of soca with dancehall. Hailed recently by Rolling Stone as “America’s first soca star,” Garlin has clearly taken his native country’s genre to new heights. His single “Differentology (Ready For The Road),” which was remixed by Major Lazer & Busta Rhymes, was a massive hit in North America more than a year after its release in the Caribbean.

In 2013, the single received a Soul Train Award win, was featured on ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy, won NYC’s HOT 97 FM’s Battle of The Beats competition and was chosen by NPR as one of the year’s favorite anthems as well as MTV Iggy’s Song of the Year. Garlin introduced soca to more mainstream music circuits by performing at last year’s SXSW, CMJ Music Festival, FADER Fort, Mad Decent Boat Party and alongside Jillionaire and Major Lazer during their 2014 tour stint.

Fay Ann Lyons is already a superstar in her native country of Trinidad and across the Caribbean. During Trinidad & Tobago’s Carnival season’s annual competitions, Fay Ann has set the record as the only female artist to score the Carnival Road March title three times, taking the crown in 2003, 2008 and 2009. In 2009, she also won International Soca Monarch in Groovy, People’s Choice and Power category and is the first soca artist ever to win that soca ‘triplet’ of titles.

In addition to these feats, she has taken home 17 awards between the COTT (Copyright Organization of Trinidad and Tobago), NACC (National Action Cultural Committee Trinidad and Tobago) and SAO (Soca Awards Organization). The Point Fortin native has soca in her DNA. Her father Superblue, a soca legend who has won the Carnival Road March title nine times and Trinidad Soca Monarch competition seven times, was instrumental in honing Fay Ann’s skills as a songwriter and performer. She became a front-liner for the band Invazion led by Naya George and today is an official member of the Asylum band (previously known as “Censation”), founded by her husband and soca royalty Bunji Garlin. Fay Ann continues to tour worldwide and is recording her first solo full-length album on VP Records.

Massive B was formed over 10 years ago with DJ Bobby Konders’ vision of starting his own sound system. At its start, the voice behind Massive B was none other than Jabba. There have been many additions to Massive B as it continues to grow. New members include Big Dawg, Chudney Shotta, D-Life and X-Man, among others. Massive B has toured all over the globe, playing major festivals and dances, and representing NYC along the way.

Locally, Massive B is a Brooklyn staple, performing annually at the borough’s West Indian Day Parade and weekly at the Buzz Nightclub for ‘Fire Sundays,’ where they spin the hottest reggae, dancehall, hip hop, R&B, and soca music. –OnPointPress.net.

 

Reggae artist Maxi Priest leads SummerStage lineup, set for June 27

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By Tiffany Mea

Reggae stars Maxi Priest and Gyptian as well as soca royalty Bunji Garlin and Fay Ann Lyons will take the stage in NYC’s Central Park to celebrate VP Records’ 35th year in business as well as its partnership with SummerStage. DJs Bobby Konders and Jabba of Massive B will also provide sounds throughout the day. The free concert kicks off at 2 p.m. and ends at 7pm on June 27, 2015.

35 years ago, VP Records’ founders Vincent and his wife Patricia Chin moved their headquarters from Kingston, Jamaica, to Jamaica, New York, transforming their operations into the largest Caribbean music company worldwide. At the concert there will also be a special VP Records 35th anniversary pop-up exhibit entitled A Reggae Music Journey, which designed by acclaimed artist Michael Thompson. The display will be located outside of the event for all the patrons to enjoy.

“VP Records is proud to bring this all-star lineup into the heart of Manhattan. We’re all looking forward to celebrating the 35th anniversary with an enjoyable day of reggae and soca music in the park,” said VP Records Senior Director of Marketing Brian Greenspoon. SummerStage is also celebrating their 30th anniversary this year. SummerStage is a program of City Parks Foundation that presents performances of outstanding artistic quality, free of charge, to serve the diverse communities of New York City. To celebrate their 30th anniversary, they have extended the season from May to October, and added more than 20 free shows in Central Park and 15 neighborhood parks across the city.

Bunji Garlin has been making waves with his new album.

Bunji Garlin has been making waves with his new album.

VP Records co-founder Patricia Chin said: “SummerStage’s 30th Anniversary and VP Records’ 35th Anniversary are significant milestones that we are honored to acknowledge together at the prestigious Central Park venue.” After 35 years, Miss Pat, as her staff affectionately refers to her, is still very much involved with the day-to-day operations of VP Records.

With over 15 million albums sold worldwide, multiple Grammy nominations and Top 10 Billboard hits, including the No. 1 smash “Close To You,” the most successful solo act in British reggae history, Maxi Priest, continues to hit the road throughout 2015 in support of his first studio album in almost a decade, Easy To Love on the VP Records label. Jamaican reggae singer Gyptian broke into the reggae scene in 2005 with his string of hits like “Serious Times” “Beautiful Lady” and “Mama, Don’t Cry.” He hit international stardom in 2010 with his critically-acclaimed album Hold You and its RIAA certified Gold title rack, which featured a Nicki Minaj remix, and earned him a 2010 MOBO and Soul Train award.

Born Ian Alvarez, the Trinidadian ragga soca star Bunji Garlin is known for his blending of soca with dancehall. Hailed recently by Rolling Stone as “America’s first soca star,” Garlin has clearly taken his native country’s genre to new heights. His single “Differentology (Ready For The Road),” which was remixed by Major Lazer & Busta Rhymes, was a massive hit in North America more than a year after its release in the Caribbean. Fay Ann Lyons is already a superstar in her native country of Trinidad and across the Caribbean. During Trinidad & Tobago’s Carnival season’s annual competitions, Fay Ann has set the record as the only female artist to score the Carnival Road March title three times, taking the crown in 2003, 2008 and 2009.

Massive B was formed over 10 years ago with DJ Bobby Konders’ vision of starting his own sound system. At its start, the voice behind Massive B was none other than Jabba. There have been many additions to Massive B as it continues to grow. New members include Big Dawg, Chudney Shotta, D-Life and X-Man, among others. Massive B has toured all over the globe, playing major festivals and dances, and representing NYC along the way. Locally, Massive B is a Brooklyn staple, performing annually at the borough’s West Indian Day Parade and weekly at the Buzz Nightclub for ‘Fire Sundays,’ where they spin the hottest reggae, dancehall, hip hop, R&B, and soca music. Bobby and Jabba can also be heard on-air every weekend on Hot 97 FM.–OnPointPress.net.

Etana, Maxi Priest set for Grace Jamaican Jerk Festival, July 20

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Etana, cultural reggae singer, will perform at the Grace Jerk Festival.

By Tiffany Mea

As New Yorkers gear up for this year’s summer activities, the city’s 4th annual Grace Jamaican Jerk Festival, scheduled for Roy Wilkins Park in Queens on Sun. July 20, rides high on the list of must-attend event. Cultural reggae star Etana, Maxi Priest and other guests will perform during a main stage concert to close out the day’s events.

Maxi Priest

Maxi Priest, whose new album debuted July 8, will perform at Grace Jerk Festival.

Centered around the world-famous Jamaican jerk cuisine, the festival combines culinary competitions, cultural and musical performances as well as family-oriented activities into one phenomenal day. Building on the success of last year’s festival, which attracted some 16,000 satisfied patrons, co-producers Jamaican Jerk Festival U.S.A. Inc. & VP Records are committed to providing more food, fun and family activities at the event.

jerk food

Jerk chicken will be among the delicious  food at the festival.

New York’s largest Caribbean food festival will be jam-packed with entertainment for everyone. This year’s highlights will include the Celebrity Jerk Cook-off, where last year’s winner New York Mayor Bill DeBlasio is expected to defend his title. There will also be a Caribbean Cultural Stage featuring traditional oral and folk performances, The Kidz Zone (a family favorite for kids of all ages) including rides, storytellers and face painting and The Corporate Row offering samples and give-aways from event sponsors.

crowd

Excited crowds have supported the festival over the years.

Maxi Priest is looking forward to a busy summer with the release of his new studio album Easy To Love on VP Records, which became available July 8. With over 15 million albums sold worldwide, a No. 1 U.S. Billboard hit and a Grammy nomination – the most successful solo act in British reggae history will bring his special brand of reggae, lover’s rock and pop to tug on the ladies’ heartstrings at the festival. Maxi will perform from his catalog of irresistible hits such as “Wild World,” “Some Guys Have All The Luck,” “Close To You,” and “Housecall” as well as songs from his upcoming album including the title track “Easy To Love.”

jerk food

An assortment of jerk food will be sold at the festival.

With her indomitable spirit and inspiring songwriting, Jamaican reggae songstress Etana will command plenty of attention at this year’s Grace Jamaican Jerk Festival New York. She will uplift generations both old and new with her collection of roots and R&B tinged hits. Recorded at Kingston’s legendary Tuff Gong Studios and backed by all live instrumentation, her latest album Better Tomorrow (VP Records) is a true testament to her evolved sound.

Jerlk Festival

Jerk Festival

Advance tickets are $30 and will be available online at www.jerkfestivalny.com and selected retail outlets in the next few weeks. Kids 12 and under are admitted free. Gates will open at 12:00pm and the fun will go on until 8:00pm.

The Grace Jamaican Jerk Festival New York is produced in association with Jamaican Jerk Festival U.S.A. Inc. and VP Records. It is sponsored by Western Union, the Jamaica Tourist Board, Vitamalt and Tower Isle Frozen Foods. For more information Email: Tiffanym@vprecords.com–OnPointPress.net.  

Maxi Priest dazzles at BB King’s, Eddie Levert joins in for a duet

 

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Maxi Priest had concertgoers on their feet during his performance, dancing and singing along to his songs.

By Carmen Glover

Reggae superstar Maxi Priest delivered a spellbinding performance at BB King’s Jazz and Blues Club in Manhattan on Wednesday, June 11, starting at 8:00 p.m. Priest took to the stage like a fireball of energy belting out Dennis Brown’s crowd pleaser “Should I,” as a strong statement that the night would feature a blend love songs that brought back memories and new songs that illustrated Priest’s versatility and longevity.

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Maxi Priest is well-known for his spectacular performances which have attracted a loyal fan base.

“Are you here to party?” Priest asked from the stage, as rapturous fans screamed in unison “Yes!” He promptly followed Brown’s hit with his own songs, crooning out “I Want To Be Free,” “Should I Give My Trust To You,” “Just a Little Bit Longer,” “Temptress,” and “Some Guys Have All the Luck.”  Midway between his dazzling performance, Priest halted the show as one of the concert’s organizers emerged onstage with a birthday cake bearing Priest’s handsome face. The individual announced that it was Priest’s birthday and immediately led the guests in singing “Happy Birthday,” to Priest, while the singer beamed, eliciting laughter and cheers.

eddie levert

Eddie Levert of the O’Jays was in the crowd and was invited onstage for a Temptations duet with Priest.

Priest resumed the show with the title song to his new album “Easy To Love,” which created a pantomime of energetic dancing on the floor due to its pulsating, exciting beat. Slowing the tempo somewhat, Priest then treated the crowd to perennial fan favorite “Wild World” which caused the crowd to respond as if they were participating in a church service, dancing freely, singing easily and waving hands while snapping fingers in time to the music.

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He then acknowledged Eddie Levert, the lead singer for the O’Jays and invited him onstage for a duet of the Temptations hit “My Girl,” which highlighted a fusion of Priest’s soft, seductive tone and Levert’s powerful, soaring baritone that had the crowd pleading for more.

Paul Kastick doing what he loves most, playing the drums.

Paul Kastick doing what he loves most, playing the drums, with the expertise that is hard to emulate.

Priest brought a local Jamaican dance hall singer onstage to sing “House Call,” which Priest recorded decades ago with rough and tumble reggae demigod Shabba Ranks. The duo performed a medley of reggae tunes before Priest closed the show with “Crazy Love,’ “Your Body Can’t Lie To Me,’ and “Close To You.” The crowd was reluctant to see the show come to an end and concertgoers milled around afterwards, dancing to intoxicating music being played by a disc jockey. Priest’s guitarists were great in their string dexterity but drummer Paul Kastick, who has produced hits for other singers such as Tessanne Chin’s “Hideaway,” was outstanding on the drums.

Maxi Priest

Maxi Priest’s new album , “Easy To Love” will be available in stores July 8.

Priest’s concert, was excellent and enjoyable as his shows usually are. He will continue his world tour with dates in his native England before returning to New York on July 20 for the Jerk Festival where he will join Etana to entertain the patrons. If you missed him at BB King’s treat yourself to his performance on June 20, and see for yourself why Priest will always be “Easy To Love.”  Purchasing tickets to the Jerk Festival to see Priest perform will be money well spent.–OnPointPress.net.

Caribbean heritage, black music, migraines, are the focus in June

Maxi Priest

Maxi Priest

As Caribbean Tourism Week prepares to wind down this weekend in New York City, a slew of other exciting concerts, festivals and events will take place in New York and across the country to celebrate and bring awareness to various issues during the month of June. Among the top three issues that will be highlighted this month are: Caribbean heritage, black music and migraine headaches.

New-Edition-2012

Caribbean nationals make up a strong component of the US population so it is fitting that Caribbean heritage month is celebrated in June, the beginning of summer. Joining Caribbean heritage is black music, which spans a range of genres such as R&B, Reggae, Jazz, Gospel, Classical and Hip Hop. Concerts earmarked for black music month include Reggae crooner Maxi Priest, who will perform at BB King’s Blues Club in Times Square on Wednesday, June 11, while New Edition’s full contingent will take the stage after opening act Joe warms up the Barclays Arena on June 29. Former I-Threes Singer Marcia Griffiths of Electric Boogie fame will appear at Groovin in the Park concert in Queens, New York on June 29, joining Beres Hammond, John Holt and Air Supply.

For migraine sufferers, information will be available about new drugs and techniques that are expected to offer much needed relief from the excruciating pain that makes regular activities difficult at times. Get involved this month to learn more about migraine relief and take some time to enjoy the celebrations for Caribbean heritage and black music.–OnPointPress.net

Maxi Priest thrills, enchants in SiriusXM listening party

 

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Maxi Priest thrills guests at listening party at SiriusXM for his new album Easy To Love

By Carmen Glover

Sensuous, charming, talented reggae star Maxi Priest had the audience eating out of his hands when he put on a dazzling, yet intimate performance at SiriusXM studios in Manhattan on Wednesday night to give a preview of his latest album, Easy To Love.

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Maxi Priest and DJ Face rock the audience on the sound system.

The event was hosted by veteran Caribbean-born journalist Pat McKay, whose program on SirusXM is called “The Joint.”  Reggae music powerhouse VP Records and the Jamaica Tourist Board sponsored the exclusive event. DJ Face spun music to keep the crowd entertained prior to Priest taking the stage. But once the reggae icon made his appearance the crowd was enthralled, listening raptly, nodding in agreement, asking questions and sharing feedback, as he talked about his musical influences and gave context to his diverse, richly textured background, interspersed with him crooning songs from the new album.

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Maxi Priest is joined by Actor/Singer Leon and Pat McKay of SiriusXM’s The Joint.

“I want to give thanks to God and all the West Indians out there,” Priest said after specifically acknowledging the Jamaicans in the audience. “Tonight is a musical experience. We own this culture and we have to bring it together and keep it together,” he said, imploring the media to continue promoting reggae music. At McKay’s urging, Priest shared details about his early roots in sound systems. “As a kid I used to run around with a sound system, vibing on the microphone,” he said. “I was the hype man and the singer and I also used to build them, then I progressed to working in the studios.”

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Maxi Priest poses with a guest at his listening party.

Describing his musical influences, Priest did not hold back. “I grew up with Dennis Brown and Burning Spear. My heart goes out to Dennis Brown,” he said, before launching into one of the late reggae legend’s hits Should I, as the guests sang along and applauded.  Priest also said that Bob Marley was one of his early influences as well. “When I came into this business I was influenced by Bob,” he said, but he explained that Brown taught him early to “sing for the girls,” advice that he took to heart. Priest talked about the perks of being a musician and he proudly called himself “a lover’s man. I make love, that’s what I do,” he said, as laughter erupted.

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Maxi Priest provided insight into his background at listening party for Easy To Love.

Priest explained that Easy To Love features solid collaborations. “I’ve been fortunate to have worked with Beres Hammond over the years and it was actually him who inspired this album. He kept saying: ‘You should do something with VP’ and I want to big up VP. That’s the foundation that’s left of our music,” he said as the guests echoed their agreement.

“This album will come out the beginning of June,” Priest said of Easy To Love, mentioning some of the producers who worked on the album, including legendary duo Sly & Robbie. Priest performed three of the songs from the album, title track Easy To Love, Loving You Is Easy, and Without A Woman, his duet with Hammond. Mckay coaxed Priest to share his views about his childhood and the role of music in the world.

Maxi Priest

Maxi Priest’s latest album, Easy To Love.

“Love and music bring people together,” he said. “Growing up my challenges were facing responsibilities, making definite decisions and sticking to them. I love this industry. I’ve been blessed to do what I’m doing and to travel. ”

Singer/actor Leon came by as the event was winding down, interacting with Priest before posing for pictures with guests. Priest also introduced his adult son and spoke about health concerns of his newborn daughter. Priest spoke glowingly about a recent Caribbean concert he had with longtime reggae singer Super Cat and expressed hope that music produced by Grammy-winner Shaggy, on his behalf, will eventually see the light of day. Easy to Love will be released in early June and Priest will perform at BB King’s Club in Manhattan on Wednesday, June 11. –OnPointPress.net.

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Gifted musician Paul Kastick mentors, develops new singers

imageBy Carmen Glover

The picturesque beauty of the island paradise of Jamaica has nourished, soothed and nurtured many illustrious talents who have dominated on the world stage. From track stars Usain Bolt and Shelly Ann Fraser-Pryce who were named 2013 World Athletes of the Year, to intellectuals spanning many fields, and recent season five winner of “The Voice” Tessanne Chin, Jamaica can effortlessly stake its claim on the diverse talents of its sons and daughters.

Tessanne with her producer Paul Kastick of Groove Galore Muziq and Big Mountain band.

“The Voice’s” Season Five Winner Tessanne Chin with her producer Paul Kastick of Groove Galore Muziq Productions and Big Mountain Band. Kastick and fellow producer Rudy Valentino produced her hit “Hideaway.”

Paul Kastick, an extraordinarily gifted musician who, with fellow musician Rudy Valentino, produced Chin’s resurgent hit “Hideaway,” is poised to dominate 2014 with his diverse skills of producing beautiful music while developing a new crop of singing sensations. Kastick has toured or played on the same shows with some of the elite names in the reggae industry including the 809 Band, Shaggy, Maxi Priest, Diana King, Steel Pulse and Ky-Mani Marley. As CEO of Groove Galore Muziq Productions and a member of Big Mountain Band, Kastick proudly points to his Jamaican roots and his early musical influences as the reasons for his stellar successes professionally and his profound determination to develop new musicians in 2014 and beyond.

Paul Kastick enjoys a light moment backstage with Shaggy.

Paul Kastick enjoys a light moment backstage with Shaggy at New York’s Barclays Center in 2012.

“When I was ten, growing up in Montego Bay, Jamaica, we used to have two marching bands: Montego Bay Boys Club and Tyson. It used to be mesmerizing to me to hear the marching bands coming through,” Kastick said reflectively, while musing about his childhood. “You would drop everything you were doing and just stare. I had an obsession with the bands and seeing the guy throw the drum sticks up in the air.”

Kastick explained how he would walk along the path on his way home from school and peek in on the Boys Club practice sessions. “When I saw a brown-skinned guy, Carlos Gonzalez, playing the drums, I said to myself: ‘He’s good. I could do that one day,'” Kastick recalled. He took his childhood dreams to heart and quickly began to play in his high school band, although he recalled that the band only played “orchestra music” at the time, requiring him to learn to “read music.”

Paul Kastick doing what he loves most, playing the drums.

Paul Kastick doing what he loves most, playing the drums.

Honing his talent while passing time at his late mother’s store, Kastick said he would watch as various bands rehearsed nearby.

“I didn’t have a drum set at the time so I would play on my legs and in the air,” he said, laughing at the fond memories evoked by the imagery. “In 1982 my uncle went to New York for the first time and he came back with a video of MTV Top 40 Countdown. I saw Van Halen, Hall & Oates and the rock music brought out something in me. I started to get obsessed with the music,” Kastick recalled. “The defining moment for me was in 1983 when I joined with Benjy Myaz and we began to learn more about music. Shortly afterwards, Chalice’s album ‘Blasted’ with the hit single ‘Good to be There’ came out and the group’s drummer, Desi Jones, revolutionized the music,” he added.

New York based singer Faraji, is another singer whose upcoming album is being produced by Paul Kastick.

New York based singer Faraji is another intriguingly exciting singer whose upcoming album is being produced by Paul Kastick, who has a knack for producing memorable hits.

As Kastick matured, opportunities opened up to him and he landed a job as the drummer for the in-house band at Seawind Resort in Montego Bay. Throughout the tourist mecca, it was the norm to see Kastick, with his music bag slung casually over his shoulder, clicking his drum sticks in the air or randomly on cans and other surfaces, happily practicing notes only known to him, while residents and tourists simply stared and wondered: Who is that guy?. Kastick was caught up in his own musical realm, visualizing music’s vast terrain, while occasionally indulging in non-music related talk. His immense joy at being around music and being able to live out his passion daily was infectious. Music, unquestionably, was his life.

Belinda, who had a hit single in 1991, is working with Paul Kastick on her upcoming album.

Belinda Brady, who sang backup for Shaggy in the past, is working with Paul Kastick on her upcoming album.

For years, Kastick’s warm-up song was the sweet strains of Priest’s “Wild World,” though as a young man starting out in music, meeting Priest seemed like a far-fetched dream. But Kastick said he looked up one day while rehearsing with 809 Band at 2B Grove Road in Kingston, Jamaica, and saw Priest watching from the door.

“I could not believe it,” Kastick said emphatically, relishing the memory even decades later. A bond easily developed between the two musicians and Kastick has been touring with Priest since 2000.

Priest, who said he considers Kastick “a friend and co-writer,” describes him as “one of Jamaica’s all time greatest drummers both live, and in studio.” In an indication of Kastick’s life coming full circle. Priest, who Kastick admired so much as a young man, said that Kastick is “a true pioneer and I’m honored to have him as family, a member of my band, and a creative entity in my music.”

But it took Kastick many years before he got to the point of touring with mega-stars, running his own music company and producing work for fledgling singers.

Paul Kastick, (second from left) with the members of Big Mountain band.

Paul Kastick, (second from left) with the members of Big Mountain Band.

“In 1985 cabaret singer Dennis Malcolm came to me and Benjy to do a reggae cover version of Brook Benton’s “I Love You in So Many Ways,” Kastick said of the period shortly after he began to work at Seawind Resort. “Dennis was the first person who took us into the studio. I always thought that Benjy and I would be like the great Sly & Robbie team.” But their lives took different paths and in 1989 Kastick auditioned for 809 Band. “Four months later I got a message from 809 to come to Kingston on July 26, 1989 and by that time the Seawind Band was getting lots of attention,” he recalled.

Paul Kastick at Westlake Studios in Los Angeles, California, working with his Big Mountain band members.

Paul Kastick at Westlake Studios in Los Angeles, California, working with his Big Mountain band members.

Kastick’s involvement with the 809 Band led to an exhilarating journey during which he traveled regularly to Japan for the Japan Splash musical extravaganza, where he garnered attention for his talents but most importantly, cemented a loving, supportive and strong relationship with 809 saxophonist Dean Fraser.

“Dean was like a father to me,” said Kastick, who has never met his father. As a father himself, Kastick realizes the important roles fathers play in children’s lives. “When I had off days and would travel to see my girlfriend at the time, Kathy Williams, Dean was the one driving me to see her,” he said. The 809 Band is a highly respected band in reggae music and stars such as Luciano, Sizzla and a host of others have had hits produced by former members of the band.

Paul Kastick is lost in his private thoughts, as he ponders what's involved in producing new hits for his singers.

Paul Kastick is lost in his private thoughts, as he ponders what’s involved in producing new hits for his singers.

As the need for large bands waned in the mid-nineties, Kastick shifted his focus to diversify his opportunities by accepting an offer to tour with Diana King in 1995. He then joined Shaggy on tour in 1996, after first meeting him in 1993 when he played with the 809 Band at the Japan Splash and the band backed Shaggy, Gregory Isaacs and Buju Banton.

“In 1995 Shaggy came back with “Bombastic” but we were on tour in Trinidad with Beres Hammond and Shabba so we were unavailable to tour with him, but the night when Shaggy won the Grammy for “Bombastic” his manager called me and said they wanted to change their band and they wanted me, Michael Fletcher and Christopher Birch to join them,” he said.

After rehearsing for a week in Jamaica in 1996, Kastick and the rest of the band went on world tour with Shaggy, visiting South Africa, Australia, Brazil, Poland, Beirut, Lebanon; Belgium and Germany, among others. He recalled that the South African stop was the most memorable.

“The tour was two years after Nelson Mandela came to Jamaica and I played for him,” Kastick said. “When I landed in Johannesburg I felt like I was coming home to my roots. Maybe it was subliminal based on the history of apartheid.”

Paul Kastick gives his all in his performance.

Paul Kastick savors the power of the music and its impact in transforming the lives of music lovers across the globe as he renders yet another solid performance.

Kastick toured with Shaggy extensively until 1998 on the “Spirit of Unity Tour,” featuring Shaggy, Buju Banton, Steel Pulse, Beres Hammond and Lucky Dube. The tour was a summer tour in the U.S, and it ended in Hawaii. At the end of the tour, Kastick accepted an offer from Big Mountain Band.

“The manager of the band, who I knew from before, called to say the band needed a new drummer to build something solid,” he said of the transition. Joaquin “Quino” McWhinney, lead singer of Big Mountain Band, remembers observing Kastick in 1997 while on a European tour in Amsterdam during the period when Kastick was playing drums for Shaggy.

“We were sound checking at the Milky Way music club when I noticed Paul standing in the middle of the dance hall with his arms crossed, studying us intently,” McWhinney said, while adding that over the past 16 years “Paul became my close friend and partner.” Straddling a blend of reggae that incorporates a variety of styles, McWhinney explained that “Big Mountain is committed to create a sound that does not exclude any racial or cultural community and Paul brought to Big Mountain an extensive array of experiences in reggae music but he also taught us not to be afraid of our American roots.”

Kastick’s decision to accept the offer to join Big Mountain Band changed the trajectory of his career and led him to  producing, which allows him to expand his repertoire by working with new singers to help shape their careers. As Chin basks in the success of winning “The Voice” and continues to enjoy success from the Kastick/Valentino produced hit “Hideaway,’ Kastick is firmly focused on developing two singers who have enjoyed modest acclaim on their own: Belinda Brady and Faraji.

Paul Kastick shows that deep concentrating is necessary for a great show.

Paul Kastick shows that deep concentration is necessary for a great show.

“Belinda used to sing background for Shaggy in 1995 and she is Jamaican with Canadian heritage,” Kastick explained. “She sings big and powerful like Tessanne and she called me after she heard ‘Hideaway’ to discuss working together,” he said.

Although Kastick is producing an album for Brady, she is also working with Sly & Robbie and Tony Kelly as well. Faraji, on the other hand, whose style is of the soul reggae alternative genre, with songs such as “Come Again” and Sensimellia Love,” has a different connection with Kastick.

“Faraji is like a brother to me while Belinda is a friend that I linked up with,” Kastic said. However, one thing is clear: He is fiercely committed to both singers. “I am fully vested in them,” he said firmly, emphasizing his laser-like focus on solidifying the singers’ respective careers.

Kastick also works with Dorrett Wisdom (Dwisdom), who, he said, “In 1991 she had the hit single ‘First Real Love,’ which was produced by Willie Stewart of the group Third World. Dwisdom has been singing backup over the past 15 years for Beres Hammond and touring with him. She is working on her second album with Harmony House and Kastick is producing a remake of her 1991 hit “First Real Love.”

The music has captured Paul Kastick's body, mind and soul as he gives it his all.

The music has captured Paul Kastick’s body, mind and soul as he gives it his all.

King, who fondly refers to Kastick as “Styk,” said she “cannot imagine being without him.” She speaks highly of the 20 years that she has been working with the gifted musician and is rueful that he doesn’t have “a few clones” due to the intense demand for his indomitable musical skills. “Not only is he super talented as a live drummer and musical director on stage, he is just as talented and innovative in the studio when it comes to drum programming and producing,” she explained. “He’s on top of his game in every way.”

King expressed admiration for Kastick’s tendency to keep current with technology and musical trends while retaining his passion for musical excellence. “He isn’t afraid to say exactly what he thinks because he believes in the integrity of the music, which is why all the top international Jamaican artists’ first choice to work with is Paul.”

Kastick sees great things ahead for both of his singers as he works diligently to expand their musical reach and expose them to a wider audience. At the same time, Kastick is committed to continuing to tour with Priest, producing sweet music with Big Mountain Band, accepting other musical engagements and spending quality time with his family.

Gonzalez, who used to play drums with the Boys Club Band and whose late father was a saxophonist from Puerto Rico, was surprised when he learned that Kastick used to watch him play in their shared hometown of Montego Bay.

“That makes me feel good that I was like a role model to him and I’m happy that Paul went on to follow his dreams and do well,” he said. Gonzalez, who is no longer involved in music and resides in Toronto, Canada, said: “It just goes to show that you should never give up on your dreams.”

Paul Kastick and the members of Big Mountain Band rehearsing.

Paul Kastick and the members of Big Mountain Band having fun while rehearsing.

McWhinney agrees with that sentiment wholeheartedly and credits Kastick with helping him embrace the full scope of his dreams.

“Paul encouraged me to be myself and not try to copy Jamaican reggae. He encouraged me to reach deep into my experiences in life. I can’t stress enough how important it was for me to understand that,” he said. Savoring the richness of their close bond, McWhinney is pleased that as Big Mountain Band returns to the studio to record an album after a long break it will be with Kastick’s involvement.

“I’m so proud and happy to have my brother Paul by my side,” he said. “Paul Kastick is one of those rare examples of talent, professionalism and sincere heart that keeps reggae music alive and well in 2014.” Infused by the comfort of Kastick’s presence for the next phase of the band’s journey he added: “Big Mountain is back.. Big Time….” Undoubtedly, Kastick, who is described by Priest as an “amazingly versatile musician,” would agree.

The sky is the limit for Kastick as the New Year unfolds and his musical expertise expands. it seems that his work ethic will continue to be his strongest asset.

“Paul takes his work very serious: Always organized, early for work, the first in rehearsals, the last to leave, and enthusiastic when touring,” said Priest.

As Kastick continues to demonstrate his highly developed sense of professionalism while thrilling audiences with his vast skills, the world of music will continue to celebrate his tableau of musical passion, genius and excitement, mixed with a spirit of collaboration, all honed and nurtured on the breathtakingly beautiful island of Jamaica, where he grew up and still calls home.–OnPointPess.net

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