by Jodee Brown
Renowned instrumentalist, producer and lovers rock pioneer,Dennis Bovell will be making his way to Toronto in September where he will be the feature of an event centered on topics such as the evolution of Reggae music and its penchant for sparking social change.
An Evening with Dennis and Friends is set to be held on Sept. 5 at the Church of the Holy Trinity in Toronto’s Trinity Squarewhere the Britain-based Reggae maestro will join Reggae historian and author, Klive Walker and engage in conversation about said topics. Additionally, the acclaimed musician will give an acoustic performance on the night, along with the likes of accomplished performance artists such as Amina Alfred, Errol Starr Francis and Michael St. George, who will host the festivities.
St. George, a revered Jamaican dub poet who has lived in Canada for almost 25 years, and currently resides in Hamilton, Ontario, has shared stages with the likes of Burning Spear, Mutaburuka and other renowned Jamaican performers and says he is honored to host this event featuring Bovell. The two are part of a new compilation dubbed Fly Away – featuring a dozen Canadian artists – which will be launched at the event, with all proceeds going to the Turn Around Project for the Arts (TAP), a non-profit organization focused on shaping the identities of young artists, educators and leaders.
“Looking at where Dennis has journeyed with his music and the techniques that he has used to brand [Reggae] in the U.K. and what he has done within the industry; there’s something to recognize and something that contribute to where we are in Canada at the moment,” St. George said from Fullstride Sounds, a studio he operates in Hamilton. “He [Bovell] has contributed to a compilation that is a part of that whole journey of Canadian Reggae music.”
St. George says An Evening with Dennis and Friends is not only about engaging a broad-scale conversation about Reggae societal influence, but also further advancing initiatives, including TAP, to further promoting the growth of Reggae in Canada.
“That on many levels is connected to the opportunity to mold that whole initiative to another place,” St. George said. “That’s what we’re trying to do with the idea of the actual event.”
While in Canada, Bovell will be hosting a series of master classes from Sept. 9-11 at Full Stride Sounds, where he will be teaching the fundamentals of Reggae music, the various elements of Reggae as well as offering expert advice for aspiring musicians.
With legends such as Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, Dennis Brown and several others having such profound cultural impact through their music, there’s little doubt Reggae has enacted social change and progress worldwide and, according to St. George, it continues to do so now given that younger artists uphold the values and traditions set by their predecessors in their own music.
“Within a social consciousness realm, that has been established and that will never change. A lot of the things that were written about then are still being written about now.” he said. They’ll always have something to speak to contextualize the past and also to project to the future. It’s not by accident that what is happening now is what happened with Bob Marley, Toots and the Maytals and Jimmy Cliff. It’s a succession of things from the past and that will never change.”
An evening with Dennis and Friends is sponsored by Fullstride Sounds in collaboration with Dance Immersion. For more details on the event, visit the official Fullstride Sounds website here.