Tag Archives: Interviews

Cocoa Live: Respect Jamaica 50th With Damian Marley

Images courtesy of: IndigO2 http://www.facebook.com/indigO2atTheO2

I’ve been meaning to post this for ages, but in the immortal worlds of George O’Dowd AKA Boy George time won’t give me time.  On August 6th my beloved island of Jamaica celebrates 50 years of independence from the United Kingdom. As you can imagine, this is quite a milestone so there are plenty of events happening across the world to mark the occasion. One of Jamaica’s biggest imports is undoubtedly its music. I’ve already discussed Bob Marley’s indelible mark on popular culture,  but in addition to Bob, there have been many other artists and musicians who helped to craft and mould the sound we’ve all come to recognise as reggae. Enter one of my favourite venues, IndigO2, who announced several weeks ago that there were playing host to a remarkable 12 night residency featuring some of the biggest names in reggae. We’re talking legends such as Jimmy Cliff, Yellowman, Freddie McGregor, Marcia Griffiths, Lee Scratch Perry, Maxi Priest, Toots and The Maytals, John Holt, Sly & Robbie and many more (see flyer above for full line up). As soon as I heard I knew I had to take in at least a couple of shows.

Junior Gong kept us waiting for a while, but boy did he deliver.

Last Thursday I was honoured to attend Damian Marley’s high-energy set at the 2400 capacity venue. Following a hectic day at work, and one of the hottest days of the summer, I arrived feeling fatigued but excited by the prospect of seeing Damian along with several other Marley siblings, live in the flesh. The show was scheduled to start at 8.30pm, but it wasn’t until one hour later that 1-Xtra DJ Robbo Ranx arrived onstage to introduce the opening act.  Up and coming Roots reggae singer Black Am I casually strolled on and proceeded to perform a four (or maybe it was 5?) track set. Although there were a few gems in there, the audience were growing weary (self included) and his laidback delivery and audience unfamiliarity made for a slightly uncomfortable performance. He shouldn’t have been made to perform more than two songs in my opinion. Next up was singer Christopher Ellis, son of the legendary singer, Alton Ellis. This set was much better. He performed to the crowd, threw in a song or two by hisfather and introduced Gappy Ranks who whipped the audience up into a frenzy. The last of the opening acts was Wayne Marshall, and it’s safe to say they saved the best till last. Now here is a man who knows how to perform. Sensing the audience may also be unfamiliar with a lot of his work, he threw in tracks by Bounty Killer, Wayne Wonder and tested the audience’s knowledge of classic reggae hits.

Next, the lights dimmed and the band warmed the crowd with an exquisite rendition of Bob’s Sun Is Shinning (which was apt because it was during the day at least). Within minutes Damian was on the stage bouncing away to a bass-heavy reggae rhythm. The singer/deejay the took us through a 90 minute musical journey which featured tracks from his three album catalogue as well as re-worked covers of his father’s extensive discography. Despite his laidback off-stage demeanour, he is a firecracker of a performer much like his Dad. He bounced, jumped, swayed and held his lengthy locks, while delivering tracks like ‘Beautiful’ and the dub heavy ‘Land of Promise’.

The crowd went wild when Stephen Marley took to the stage

Just when we thought the show had hit its peak, Damian (nicknamed Junior Gong) then brought to the stage siblings Julian and Stephen. While Julian encompasses the more politicized/social aware aspects of the Marley legacy, you can tell Stephen and Damian are also influenced by the contemporary Dancehall style of reggae. The two brothers bounced off each other while performing, injecting  even more energy as well as humour into the set. As the clock approached midnight I did begin to fret about what time I’d get to bed, but didn’t want to leave until the end. When Damian bellowed ‘Jamaica, Jamaica’ I knew that signalled the start of his breakthrough hit ‘Welcome To Jamrock’ and we were almost there. The show ended with an family performance of ‘Could You Be Loved’ where the boys were joined onstage by Cedella Marley, and after singing and dancing my heart out we finally left to get some rest.

I strongly recommend you check out at least one of the Respect Jamaica 50th shows. Click here for details of remaining shows

 

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Cocoa Read: The Rose Petal Beach

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Take a peek of the cover art for Dorothy Koomson’s forthcoming novel The Petal Beach. Isn’t it gorge? I love the juxtaposition of the fresh, clean background with the scarlet petals. And can I get an amen for the gorgeous profile of the cocoa toned protagonist on the cover? Long time readers of this blog will know that I’m a huge Dorothy Koomson fan, and her latest sounds like another pulsating page turner. Check out the blurb:

Tamia Challey is horrified when her husband, Scott, is accused of a terrible crime – but when she discovers who his accuser is, everything goes into free-fall. Scared and confused, Tamia is forced to choose who she instinctively believes. But her choice has dire consequences for all concerned, especially when matters take a tragic turn . . .

Dorothy Koomson is a best-selling author who has written eight novels. The Rose Petal Beach, is published by Quercus and is on sale the first week in September. Look out for a review at a later date. 

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And Breathe…

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Ladies and gents, I’m off for a few days for some much needed rest and restoration. Rich and I have decided to call a ban on gadgets, smart phones, laptops and all forms of modern technology. Will be back to blogging next week hopefully full of vitality and plenty of vitamin D. 

See ya!

Ms Quichexxx

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The Black British Web Revolution Will Not Be Televised

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Check out this super interesting piece by my girl Bim  on the rise of web based TV series such as Brothers With No Game and Venus Vs Mars which depict alternative narratives on Black British Life. Bim blogs on www.yorubagirldancing.com 

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Race For Life: Let’s Kick Cancer’s Ass!

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Greetings folks. Yesterday I participated in the annual Race For Life charity run, a female only event that raises money for cancer. Waking up at the crack of dawn, it was a joy to see a sea of pink gracing the streets of Blackheath, south east London. Some women were dressed in cerise pink tutus, while others were donning candy pink stetsons, bunny ears, or them funny alien headbands. It was such a fun atmosphere that at times I  almost forget the reason we were there.

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That moment escaped however we finally embarked on the heath and lined up for our run. In amongst the 10,000 throng crowd I saw countless women with posts on their backs  featuring heart wrenching tributes for their loved ones lost. Girls as young as 10 maybe were running in loving memory of the mothers they had lost to this wretched disease. Some women had listed four or five friends/relatives who had died from cancer. I ran with my two cousins and after a while we promised ourselves that we would stop reading them as it was that emotional. But soon the moment had arrived. Having not prepared for the race I was  really reluctant to participate. But I’m so glad I did because not only was the 5K not bad as I imagined it to be, but it really further drove home the point that we need to use all our strength, might and fight to eradicate this thing.

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I set myself a really realistic fundraising target of £100 but unfortunately I’m only 25% there.  I’ll admit, I was slightly disappointed that I hadn’t raised more, but after discussing it with my sis in law today we both agreed that many people are probably suffering from charity fatigue. Even I’ve lost count of the number of people who ask me to sponsor them on a regular basis so I can only imagine the same must apply to those who haven’t responded or sponsored. But if per chance, you are able to support the charity by even donating a few pounds, I’d be sincerely grateful. See link to my page here

Bless

Keysha

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Sunday Afternoon Fun: Hackney Weekend

Jay Z and Rihanna at the Hackney Weekend

I’m officially a festival head. Throughout the years I’ve never understood the appeal, but after Prince stole my soul  last year on a balmy night in Kent, I’m happy to  admit that I’m a full convert. This summer is especially exciting for festival lovers. Literally every weekend there’s an event scheduled to happen, the established, high profile ones such as V Festival and Wireless, competing against some of the newer ones.

One of the most hotly anticipated festivals was Hackney Weekend which took place at the weekend. The event was designed to give local residents a chance to celebrate the imminent Olympic Games, as well as provide outreach initiatives such as  Project Hackney, which encourages young Hackney residents to use creativity as a tool to express the challenges they face in their lives.

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Cocoa Read: How I Grew It Long Naturally

 This may seem like a bit of an ironic statement considering what I do for a living, but I’ve never been one to obsess too much about my hair. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll be the first to admit to my ‘product junkie’ tendencies, and I spend far too much time at home scoping YouTube channels and natural hair websites (research baby, research) when there’s only so many bun tutorials one can watch. But sometimes I think the wealth of information out there can be overwhelming. The hair terminology thing is like a foreign language in itself, and although I wish I could have copious hours to spend dedicated to caressing every strand on my head, the truth of the matter is my time is short.

Diane with her natural hair pressed straight

Enter Diane Hall, a practical thinking sister who has decided to publish a book that offers the bare bones of natural afro hair care. In her debut book How I Grew It Long… Naturally A Step By Step Guide To The Maintenance, Growth & Care of My Afro Textured Hair, the author guides us through her hair journey starting from her teenage years and a particularly bad relaxer, to present day as a woman who through trial and error has learned to maintain her hair and maximise growth. At 130 pages long, the book is a brief, fuss-free guide that you can get through in one sitting. It starts off with the author chronicling her hair history (through words and pictures) and  she then goes on to inform readers of her hair routine, which is broken down into sections and covers overnight care, morning routine, trimming and straightening, tips for protective styling and diet and exercise. So just to make it clear:  if you are looking for a detailed book with in-depth scientific and factual information about afro hair, this is not for you. But if you’re strapped for time and just want some quick, handy surface information about haircare then this is a great buy.

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