Music Hall of Williamsburg
Lee "Scratch" Perry

Presented by JLL - Part of the Dub Champions Festival

Lee "Scratch" Perry

Sinkane, Dre Skull

Sun, September 23, 2012

Doors: 7:00 pm / Show: 8:00 pm

Music Hall of Williamsburg

Brooklyn, NY


This event is 18 and over

Lee "Scratch" Perry
Lee "Scratch" Perry
One of the most important figures in the history of reggae music is Lee "Scratch" Perry. As a songwriter, a performer and especially a producer, Perry has been at the forefront of reggae music since the late 50's ska movement. Practically the inventor of both dubs reggae (he produced one of the earliest all-dub albums, Blackboard Jungle, in 1974) and the "scratch" turntable effect used by DJ's (his production of Charlie Ace's "Cow Theory Skank" in 1973 became the first recording to use the "scratch" effect), Perry's studio innovations have influenced not only reggae but also rock, punk, pop and dance music. Yet, at 70 years old, Perry, with his new album "Panic In Babylon" (Narnack) was released in August 2006, proves to be more relevant than ever.

"Panic In Babylon" originally released in Switzerland and available on CD and vinyl LP, follows on the heels of Perry's Grammy award for Best Reggae Album. Drenched in Perry's signature dub-echo style, the
album is musically hypnotic with an uncluttered instrumental simplicity. The lyrics explore global fears, political corruption and narrative; with Perry boldly declaring on the title cut "I am the Upsetter."
From the bawdy "Pussy Man" to "Inspector Gadget 2004," Perry leavens his more political and spiritual songs with lyrics that expose his fun, human and instinctual side. The album comes with a bonus disc that features a Dave Sitek/TV on the Radio Remix of the title tracks and a DJ Spooky Remix of "Purity Rock," illustrating Perry's cross-over appeal and spotlighting hip-hop artists paying back the musical debt they owe Perry.

Encapsulating Perry's entire long astonishing career is difficult at best. Chronicling his recordings as a solo artist and as the leader of various groups, along with his overflowing catalogue of productions, all released on a myriad of labels, could fill a book.

Perry was born Rainford Hugh Perry in the small town of Kendall, part of the Hanover section of northwest Jamaica on March 28, 1936. A dancer and domino player of renown when he was young, Perry began his musical apprenticeship on the Kingston, Jamaica music scene of the 1950's as part of Duke Reid's Trojan sound system. From there he became involved with celebrated producer Coxsone Dodd and his Downbeat sound system. He subsequently worked as an A&R man at Dodd's influential Studio One, eventually supervising the famed Sunday afternoon auditions held at Dodd's Orange Street record store. In 1959, Perry cut two singles that launched his career, "Old or New" and the song from which his nickname is derived, "Chicken Scratch." In the early 60's, Perry's reputation as a songwriter and producer exploded with recordings for the likes of Delroy Wilson, the Maytals and the Wailers, while he continued to record himself, sometimes under such pseudonyms as King Perry.

In 1966 Perry left Studio One under a cloud of acrimony. He was so upset with Dodd that he wrote a song called "The Upsetter," an attack on Dodd that became the name of Perry's band the Upsetters. It also became the name of his label and of his Charles Street record store. In 1969 he released "Return To Django," which shot up to number five on the U.K. charts; he followed the success of the song with a highly successful U.K. tour. In 1973 Perry opened his famed Black Ark studios in Washington Gardens, a suburb of Kingston. It was there that Perry's abilities as a groundbreaking producer became fully formed. Using only a TEAC 4-track recorder (the heads of which he would clean with his t-shirt), a Soundcraft mixing board and an Echoplex tape delay, Perry established himself as reggae's premier record producer through innovation, alchemy and a mysterious ability to take even the most moribund song and performances and create magic.

In the small, 12-foot studio that was filled with his beloved small rubber balls and thick with ganja smoke, the Perry legend grew and he was the first reggae producer to experiment with drum machines and phasers. Some of the Perry-produced recordings that followed became the seminal releases of 70's reggae, including Junior Murvin's "Police and Thieves" (later covered by the Clash), Max Romeo's "War In Babylon,"
and other recordings by the Heptones, Mikey Dread and Augustus Pablo. It was around this time that Chris Blackwell began licensing much of Perry's output and releasing it on his label Island Records.
From 1977 on, Perry not only worked with Bob Marley on various productions and released perhaps the first 12-inch reggae single, Carlton Jackson's "History," but he also produced such non-reggae
artists as the Clash, John Martyn, Robert Palmer and even Linda McCartney.

In the late 70's and early 80's Perry fell on hard times. Island refused to release two of his albums and his studio fell into disrepair. In the summer of 1983, the studio burned to the ground, possibly of arson which forced Perry to relocate, this time to the U.S.A. Soon after he returned to Island Records and relocated once again, moving across the Atlantic to Britain. By the start of the 90's, he had buried the hatchet with Coxsone Dodd, relocated to the Netherlands, then on to Zurich Switzerland, where he eventually married Swiss millionairess Mirielle Campbell in a Hare Krishna temple. They have two children and the family still lives in Zurich.

In recent years, Perry has continued to work as a songwriter and a producer, but more importantly, he has continued to record himself, making fresh, new music while maintaining his mastery of the
recording studio.
Sinkane music -- every note of it -- comes straight out of a generosity of spirit. Never has that spirit been on more vivid display than on the uplifting new album Life & Livin' It. This is feel-good music for trying times, celebrating what makes life good without ignoring what makes it hard.

By the time they finished touring for their acclaimed Mean Love album in late 2015, Ahmed Gallab and the band had spread the gospel of Sinkane to the world, playing 166 shows in 20 countries. During the same period, he had also led The Atomic Bomb Band -- the highly celebrated 15-piece outfit that played the music of elusive Nigerian electro-funk maestro William Onyeabor. The band included David Byrne, Damon Albarn, members of Hot Chip, LCD Soundsystem, The Rapture, Jamie Lidell and legendary jazz musicians Pharoah Sanders and Charles Lloyd, and they played all over the planet, including making their TV debut on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. "Those 14 months really changed my life," Ahmed says. "Not only did I learn how to put on a bigger show, but all that touring brought Sinkane closer as a band."

As Ahmed got into the depths of writing for Life & Livin' It, he had a clear goal; to conjure the ups and downs of a universal experience, and have fun while doing it. "I would listen to my favorite records, like Funkadelic's America Eats Its Young, and realize how great they made me feel. That carefree, light and fun feeling I was getting while writing this record is what I want everyone to feel when they listen to it."

Ahmed soon brought the band in to help with the material, testing the songs at a four-show residency of sold-out shows at Union Pool in Brooklyn where the audience's reception fed the creative process. They toured throughout the summer before setting up shop at Sonic Ranch Studios in El Paso, Texas. Once again produced by Ahmed with lyrics and help from longtime collaborator Greg Lofaro, the album draws from the best elements of Sinkane's previous records: the slinky funk and soul grooves are there, so are the sparkling melodies with roots in sub-Saharan Africa. With basic tracking played together live, the fun and immediacy of Sinkane's live show is a central feeling of the recordings. Each one of the four members of Sinkane -- bassist Ish Montgomery, drummer Jason Trammell, guitarist Jonny Lam and Ahmed -- sing and contribute additional parts on the album, with Trammell contributing lyrics to "Theme from Life & Livin' It," and Lam helping with arrangements. Jas Walton and Jordan MacLean of Daptone recording artists Antibalas contributed horns.

In making a record that feels like this, Ahmed's primary intention was to make music that is joyous, but also socially conscious when you scratch beneath the surface. The songs "U'Huh" and "Theme from Life & Livin' It" conjure up the simple pleasures of hanging with friends, but there are heavier vibes in there. Ahmed says, "I remember listening to Bob Marley as a child. Dancing with my family in our living room and then my mother telling me what issues he was addressing, and that it was important to remember those things while listening. It made the music even better because it became about something more."

"Favorite Song" came about from Ahmed's experiences DJ'ing in New York. "As a DJ you're always paying attention to the collective energy in the club. When you play a song that everyone knows, everybody is connected, lost in the music." That song, along with "U'Huh," has lyrics sung in Arabic, Ahmed's native tongue. "Kulu shi tamaam!" means "everything is great!" while "ya zol ya zain!" is a Sudanese term of endearment meaning "my beautiful friend." "It's really easy to understand the tone of those words," Ahmed adds. "They just feel good, you don't have to know what they mean. It's kind of like listening to Caetano Veloso or Jorge Ben -- you don't have to know Portuguese to feel what they're saying."

True to its name, Life & Livin' It is an album about all kinds of experiences. When Ahmed Gallab sings, he sounds unafraid yet vulnerable. But while he once sang of feeling like he was on the planet Mars, Ahmed is now firmly grounded on Earth. He's no longer searching for his home -- he has created a home for himself. There's a party there, and Life & Livin' It is playing on the stereo. You are invited.
Dre Skull
NYC DJ/producer Dre Skull came up in the art/music scene that birthed Lightning Bolt and Paper Rad while starting his career with the conceptual performance group Slow Jams Band. Many sweaty house shows and performances at art institutions later, Dre decided to step back from the intersections of art and music and turned his attention full-time to making music. He has since worked with a wide variety of Electronic Music forerunners: LAIDBACK LUKE & DIPLO, GOON & KOYOTE, LAUREN FLAX and UDACHI & JUBILEE. In 2009, DRE SKULL founded MIXPAK RECORDS s as an outpost for his own productions, recently completing work with artists ranging from LIL SCRAPPY, VYBZ KARTEL, NATALIE STORM, 77 KLASH, GOTTY BOI CHRIS to SIZZLA. The fourth MIXPAK release, VYBZ KARTEL's DRE SKULL produced single, "Yuh Love," is a worldwide phenomenon, with strong support on the London airwaves and the music video reaching number one on CVM TV's Hitlist in Jamaica.
Venue Information:
Music Hall of Williamsburg
66 North 6th St
Brooklyn, NY, 11249