New Kingston keeps reggae music on the streets | Entertainment

At a time when most Americans were exposed to a more pop style of reggae music, New Kingston (a group made up of a father and his three sons from New York), is dedicated to the preservation of Jamaican reggae and his message. .

Even though for years booming musicians have been eclipsed by a society that embraces more marketable sound with less meaning, their music continues to speak volumes.

Courtney Panton said The gleaner that the group “was born out of a need”. Panton was already on the New York reggae scene after migrating from Jamaica to the United States in the 1980s. He founded the Kingston Studio and was an active member of the Kingston Crew Band.

“There was a time when I was just working in the studio and my sons were just running the streets.” Taking a break from the studio was inevitable to bond with his sons, Tahir, Courtney Jr and Steve (the eldest) through music.

“Of course in life you need the right role models,” says Courtney Jr., “not that we keep the ‘bad guy’ on the streets, but we do other things with no real vision for the future.”

The home sessions aimed to better educate his sons about their heritage and the world of music in the hopes of turning it into a career that not only benefits them, but helps raise cultural awareness – and it did. He flourished in the group New Kingston, representing the new generation of reggae musicians.

Group dynamics

New Kingston went from living room to live entertainment, initially covering songs from greats like Bob Marley and Burning Spear until other artists took notice of the innate talent. They performed the backing group role with Tahir on keyboard, Courtney Jr on drums, Steve on guitar and their father on bass guitar, for Richie Spice, Collie Buddz, Shaggy, Chuck Fenda, Ninja Man and Sister. Carole.

“New Kingston has a popular style, so in 2013 playing for artists was not the main focus, having picked up some speed playing our songs first for the warm-up, although this helped as the shows would not require an opening act, ”Courtney Jr., added.

Although the four-member group enjoyed performing alongside many of their biggest influences, they continued to release EPs and full albums with them, adding vocals to original compositions as well. The group’s first album in 2010, In the streets, was a mix of dancehall and reggae with Collie Buddz, Mr Vegas and Lexxus. Now their music is mostly reggae, although it incorporates other genres.

According to the group, the live reggae scene is largely represented by white Americans. They say, “people say it’s rare to see a black face”, and when presented to an audience, “people identify our face with black people rather than with Jamaica and reggae”.

Panton said that “there is a need for more representation of reggae music and culture abroad”.

“People have adapted our culture and turned it into a real business. We cannot go against the people who have accepted our style of music. [we should be] constantly nourishing them with knowledge. We need more people in America to do this, ”he added.

In their first year as an independent actor, the group did 150 shows. Then in 2015, when the group’s third studio album City of Kingston topped Billboard’s reggae charts for about three months. The band shows no signs of slowing down in 2018. Last August, after the Rototom Sunsplash in Spain, the band released a new album, A Kingston Story: Come from afar with a general message for self-upliftment.

Words, “Look how far we’ve come, look how far we’re going. So many seeds, water them and they will grow ‘ of the title song, Come from afar talk about this story as well as the promotion of culture.

“It’s really up to new and existing bands to take the lead. It takes a bit of a transition because of the difference, but people are still trying to find a balance despite the lack of funding,” Panton said.

“For us who live in New York, it’s easier to drive interstate several times a year and it’s important for us to try to break down barriers and stereotypes,” he said. added.

New Kingston has reduced touring to 17 cities due to the time and energy it takes to drive the campervan and equipment trailer from one city to another. The Come From Far tour kicked off this week and will run until the third week of February.

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