Reggae Rules
Burning Spear Lit Up Lexington

By Sarah Tackett

All the dreaded heads in Lexington made it down to the Dame last Monday for the Burning Spear show. It was a packed house, and deservedly so. I should brag on the Dame a little bit for convincing this Reggae legend to stop his tour bus in our fair city. So…way to go Dame people. We trust that you continue to keep the bar raised for high caliber performances in town. (It's like Field of Dreams, if you bring them, we will come.)
OK. So for all you kiddies who think Shaggy and Sean Paul invented Reggae, please allow me to enlighten your sad, corrupted minds. Over thirty years ago, Reggae emerged from the Rastafarian culture, a culture which is bedded in resistance.

The movement was centered in Jamaica and the music itself spread messages of political uprising. I could explain to you about oppression resulting from colonial rule, and Marcus Garvey, but I imagine that you are already twitching from lack of concentration. So pop a Ritalin and Google it with you dexterous keyboard-evolved fingers.

What you will find is that Winston Rodney a.k.a. Burning Spear was right there when it all happened. He is a contemporary of Bob Marley and considered one of the pioneers of what is called “Root Music.” Opposed to the pop garbage, this kind of music is purposeful and lyrically saturated with social commentary.

Burning Spear performed casually, without any pretense or showy banter. In fact I'm almost positive that he played Monday like he has played all of his shows for the past 34 years. There is a consistency in Reggae kept in the beat and melody tha t creates some kind of mellow and positive energy. That energy was permeating the Dame, everyone moving like waves from the stage. My friend Lamont pointed out that even the floorboards were shifting rhythmically under people's feet.

The crowd couldn't have been better. It was a happy group that got very excited with applause between songs. They all danced and drank Red Stripe and smelled like Patchouli (I think that was Patchouli). It really felt like being in Jamaica in the middle of Lexington. Burning Spear played percussion himself, on two tall drums, and some other instruments that made very clear and pointed sounds. The horns were cool, though they need to work on their synchronized dance, but truthfully they probably don't care. The drummer took his shirt off at the end of the show, (which convinces me that I have the power to will such things with my mind). The entire band seemed like they could play forever.

But they didn't. They played two encore songs, probably because the crowd was so enthusiastic, and nobody really wanted to

leave. Burning Spear shouted, “One Love,” and “Peace!” before he left the stage. “Root Music,” hasn't changed much over the years because something about it reaches the spirit. I must say that the concert was quite a spiritual lift for a regular Monday night.

This Friday, the Dame hosts Iris Dement. She's a regional favorite girl-with-guitar. She has also been nationally recognized on T.V. shows such as Northern Exposure. Her music is described as soulful and touching, and critics rave about her unique voice. It should be a good show.

Also for this weekend, don't forget about the Shakespeare festival. Jesus Christ Superstar is playing. It's a musical about Jesus! Seriously, what beats that? Jesus sings and dances along with all the disciples and Mary Magdalene. The music really is beautiful. I have only seen the 1970's version on video. Everybody has on bell bottoms and sequence and I somewhat remember Judas wearing a white spandex number with Texas cowboy-fringe. Totally hot. If you haven't seen it before I recommend this years show as a must see. Even if you hate musicals, you will like this one, and what is better than seeing it at the arboretum under the stars during the summer?

Like always, enjoy your weekend, and if you see speed-walker/headphones guy, tell him he owes me money. n