Gordon Lightfoot Book, Music and More!

The home of music journalist Nicholas Jennings, author of Lightfoot, the definitive new Gordon Lightfoot biography from Penguin Random House.

Bob Marley: One Love review - Natural Mystic on the Screen

Despite approaching it with some trepidation, I thoroughly enjoyed the movie Bob Marley: One Love in the end. Kingsley Ben-Adir, who looks nothing like Marley, seemed awkward in the role at first and his dreadlock wig was not at all convincing. But the English actor seemed to grow into the part as the film progressed, even his dreads became more natural, and he wound up capturing well the spirit, struggle and message of the man.  The filmmakers chose to frame the story between Marley getting shot 1976 and 1978’s One Love Peace Concert, when he brought political enemies Michael Manley and Edward Seaga together onstage. And there are some wonderful flashbacks, including the youn...

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A conversation with Sinéad O'Connor

In July 2005, I spoke with Sinéad O'Connor about her reggae album, Throw Down Your Arms, that she’d recorded in Jamaica with Sly and Robbie. There was a lot going on in the world at the time. Live 8, the series of anti-poverty benefit concerts organized by Bob Geldof on the 20th anniversary of Live Aid, had just taken place. The news cycle was filled with horrific stories about the suicide attacks by Islamic terrorists that killed 56 early-morning commuters on the London Tube. We talked about those events, as well as ganga, God and her decision never to revisit her pop past again.  But Sinéad was musically motivated—Throw Down Your Arms was her first recording since her t...

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Stranger Cole: Stranger in the Market

To walk through the middle of Toronto's Kensington Market on a Saturday in the early ’80s was to enter what locals called the “wobble zone.” There on a stretch of Kensington Avenue, between St. Andrew and Baldwin, the booming bass sounds coming from two sets of opposing speakers could throw passersby a little off balance. The duelling sound systems, like something out of The Harder They Come, belonged to a pair of Jamaican expat musicians who ran competing reggae record shops, each facing the other. Stranger Cole came first, in 1978, launching his Roots Records store – the first Caribbean business in the Market – at 58 Kensington. Four years later, Rannie “Bop” Williams opened Record Corner ...

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Jackie Mittoo - Reggae's Keyboard King

Born on this day, March 3, in 1948, Jackie Mittoo can be rightly called the godfather of reggae music in Canada. When he emigrated to Toronto in 1969, Jackie was already a major star in Jamaica, having been a founding member of the ground-breaking Skatalites and a composer-arranger whose inspired keyboard work on countless Studio One recordings helped Jamaican music evolve from ska to rocksteady. Some say the gifted performer was the inventor of reggae itself.  After landing in Toronto, Jackie quickly began introducing audiences to a bubbling, keyboard-driven sound that came to be called reggae—earning himself widespread media attention and national airplay. Meanwhile, he recorded and t...

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New museum exhibit: Caribbean music in Toronto

Now open: a brand new exhibit at the Friar’s Music Museum, devoted to the deep, rich history of Caribbean music in Toronto. Among the Rhythms and Resistance exhibition’s many rare and wide-ranging artefacts are hundreds of photographs, posters, handbills, recordings, videos, instruments, costumes, clothing and assorted ephemera related to calypso, reggae, soul, funk and hip-hop musicians in Toronto, dating back to the first arrival of Caribbean immigrants in the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s. Artists featured in this exhibition include Bob Marley, Lillian Allen, Jackie Mittoo, Louise Bennett, the Mighty Sparrow, JoJo Bennett, Leroy Sibbles, Michie Mee, Jay Douglas and many more. Proud to ha...

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