The Oak Leaf

The Last Day Saloon welcomes British reggae artist, Junior Reed

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Sonoma County 2005, the Last Day Saloon (under new management) books none other than reggae dance hall maestro Junior Reed. For a quick recap of his career see my record collection or get a clue.

If you must know (and you didn’t hear it from me) Junior “One Blood” Reed was raised on the tumultuous streets of the Waterhouse district in Kingston. At age fourteen his debut album, “Know Myself” was released in England. You might know him as the lead vocalist of “Black Ururu”. During those years albums such as “Brutal” and “Brutal Dub” paved the way for dance hall and opened major doors for the Black Ururu. “Positive” and “Brutal Dub” have won multi national awards, proving the heart and dedication of the struggle was universal. After a few years Reed went out on his own, pressing himself musically and personally moving in the direction of the message.

“It’s not ‘ard but it far from easy,” said Reed as he sat smoking on a true massive spliff exhaling a plume of smoke mingled with the response to my question on his musical process.

“What comes from da heart makes the soul move,” the second cloud of ganja blown in my general direction had me sweating, the sweet odor elevated my head and reminded me of days past, as a journalist on the job I denied my hit. In response to most of my questions I received slight head nods. It’s an unspoken rule but if your not from the island and speak the common dialect “patwa” then conversation on both sides will be limited. I thanked Reed and retired to the inside of the Brotherhood skate shop.

Kurt (Brotherhood owner) lounged behind the counter in the shop as sweet dub bass resonated through the veins of customers to jump-start their hearts. The second hand smoke had me feeling a little ire so I put down the camera and pen and showed off a few moves. Keeping in time with the soothing rhythm track a lithe skate girl, adorned with tattoos and more piercing then a new guinea tribesman seductively moved about the clothing racks, hips gyrating to the Jamaican sounds. It occurred to me how much reggae transcends and resonates thru the many cultural facets. From Steel Pulse, Bad Brains, Israel vibration, even Sublime, the island sound is native to us all, beneath the concrete buildings and posturing Americans feel the roots of this music and it moves us.

Before I drifted off to talk to the young skate diva, I caught the eye of local Emcee “Prophet”. “Prophet” was on the microphone representing with a little pre-show freestyle, when questioned on his progression, he informed me of his move to the state capital Sacramento, were he plans to release his latest album and reach a new audience. I wished him luck and snapped his photo. Next time I see him he might be working at a Star Bucks or on a major label performing his first music video, you never know in this industry, it’s the uncertainty, that thrill of success, which separates the artists from the fans.

A quick nap and a sandwich later I arrived at the Last Day saloon. The Shotgun Wedding Quintet from San Francisco brought the crowd to frenzy, fueling the spoken word riffs was a hybrid of hip hop jazz- that would make a molecular genetics major scratch his head. Shotgun flawlessly blends style, form and the heart of Hip-Hop into melodious funky offspring with a license to ill.

DJ Jacque from the Monday night Edutainment crew provided dance hall beats for the children of the night keeping the dance floor in motion. As the night progressed I was reminded this isn’t LA or SF, it’s Santa Rosa. This town for so long hid its head in the sand when it came to allowing music into the community that challenged the norm. Hopefully, the music calendar holds for us more of the legends of music that still live and allows them to leave their mark on the streets and venues of Santa Rosa.

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A student-operated publication at Santa Rosa Junior College.
The Last Day Saloon welcomes British reggae artist, Junior Reed