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.

Dennis Brown - Reggae crooner extraordinaire

Reggae artists seem to have a knack for taking well-known pop songs, transforming them with reggae’s distinctive, loping rhythm—what Bob Marley called “the one drop”—and creating new, sure-fire hits for themselves. Think of Toots and the Maytals’ reggae-fied remake of John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads,” Peter Tosh’s Rasta variation on Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode” or UB40’s version of Sonny and Cher’s “I Got You Babe.” Reggae crooner Dennis Brown is no exception. Brown’s two current albums, Victory is Mine (on RAS Records) and Over Proof (Shanachie), each takes a North American hit and puts an unmistakable Jamaican spin on it. The former features a bubbly versi...

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Feature Article: Snow - Snow business

As a teenager growing up in the housing projects of north Toronto, Darrin O’Brien did not seem to have much of a future. An indifferent student from a working-class family, he spent much of his time drinking, fighting and getting caught on the wrong side of the law. His police record includes several convictions—for mischief, causing a disturbance and assault. Aside from his skill as a street fighter, O’Brien's only talent was mimicking the thick Jamaican dialect that he heard on reggae records and in his predominantly West Indian neighborhood. Then, in 1989, when he was 19, a brawl involving butcher knives sent him to jail on charges of attempted murder. But prison proved to be a turning po...

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JoJo Bennett - Reggae trailblazer

JoJo Bennett was a Jamaican orphan who found his calling when a teacher handed him a horn. Excelling on the trumpet, he grew to become a successful touring musician, songwriter and recording artist. In Canada, he added award-winning bandleader and owner of a recording studio and record label to his accomplishments. But he never forgot his roots, also starting his own music school along the way. Mr. Bennett, who died on Aug. 3 at the age of 81, may have been best known as the charismatic, dreadlocked figure in celebrated Canadian pop-reggae band the Sattalites. But after his passing, those close to him remembered a wise, modest man they affectionately called “Guru” and “Teach.” “Jo was a beau...

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Ronnie ‘Bop’ Williams - Unheralded reggae pioneer helped define the genre

He was one of the early architects of Jamaican music – a guitarist, bass player, songwriter, arranger and producer whose contributions to hundreds of recordings helped to shape reggae and popularize it around the world. He played with Bob Marley, Jimmy Cliff, Johnny Nash and Toots and the Maytals, and worked for such famous studio owners as Duke Reid, Bunny Lee and Lee (Scratch) Perry, and the Trojan, Treasure Isle and Upsetter record labels. Yet the name Ronnie (Bop) Williams is barely known outside of reggae circles. Part of the reason for the near anonymity was Mr. Williams’s own modesty. A soft-spoken man, he came from extremely humble roots in rural Jamaica, teaching himself to play on ...

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Jay Douglas at the Friar's Music Museum

Toronto reggae-soul star Jay Douglas, originally from Montego Bay, got his start with the Cougars, playing at the West Indies Federation Club at Brunswick and College then at Club Jamaica on Yonge Street before crossing over to Le Coq D'Or. The Cougars can be heard on the great Jamaica to Toronto compilation from the Light in the Attic label. Here, Jay and his band return to Yonge and take over the Friar's Music Museum space for a half-hour concert and an animated history lesson of the Toronto music scene. Tip o' the hat to Mark Garner, Museum co-curator Jan Haust and the ever youthful legend Jay Douglas. Watch Jay at the Friar's Music Museum here 

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