Chezidek - Hootananny, Brixton, London - 3rd September 2009
The first date of Chezidek's UK tour kicked off nicely in Brixton last night. The soft-spoken thoughtful Rasta man from the parish of Saint Ann worked up a sweat before the Hootananny crowd, topping a bill that included psychedelically titled Swiss deejay Aya Waska, female fireball Empress Ayeola and Chezidek's Farmer's Heights stablemate Mr. Pelper.
With the exception of the evocatively named Pelper who sang his brand of intelligent dancehall over prerecorded tracks, all artists were backed by Montpellierís Digital Cut band. A fundamentals lineup of drums, bass, guitar and keys, they played with a competence and professionalism typical of a competitive densely populated French backing group scene.
But the real star of the night was the man everyone had come to see. Last time he played London he was part of an ensemble bill at Brixton Academy and promoting his Inna Di Road album cut with producer Bobby Konders. For this tour, avoiding the big commercial venues, he played a spread of singles from a variety of sources, confident that the audience, which contained many artists and scene mainstays, would know them all.
Standouts included his eco herb hit Leave The Trees, the Irie Ites production Bun The Ganja on the Strange Things rhythm, and an explosively rewound Call ĎPon Dem. He closed with Far I (on the Unchained) which he morphed into Dennis Brown's Easy Take It Easy, making clear his music's link with the greats of roots reggae's past.
Some writers have disdained Chezidek's voice as weak. But on stage it is one of the most flawless and consistent instruments in the game: Its delicate flutters and surprising pyrotechnics lifting the crowdís emotions on high.
Where many Jamaican artists now avoid the UK, and those that don't play impersonal shows at the muffled Academy or the unpredictable Rex, Chezidek has offered us a rare treat by performing in a series of intimate settings. The tour continues for another week. Don't miss your chance to see this man live.
Before the show Reggae News caught up with rising artists from the Farmerís Heights collective Mr Pelper and Bochiniel:
Tell us about yourselves.
B: Iím Bochiniel
MP: Iím Mr Pelper. From Farmerís Heights
B: Full Farmerís Heights family.
What is your link with Chezidek?
B: Well Chezidek is a big man in the business as a musician and a singer. We look up to them kind of people to help elevate the thing. Give strength, righteousness, culture on a reality level. So Chezidek is like an artist whoís trying to help us a bit to put us upon a platform so 100% and love we show him. Bless.
Are you looking forward to singing on the show?
B: Yeah man!
MP: Most definitely. Chezidek is coming from the same place we come from. We are coming out of St Annís and we grew up from a young stage. We know we have potential still which we are trying to reach. But my vibe is more, the girls and things.
B: I do a bit of that too but I am more One Drop thing Ė culture you know? I kind of keep it on a roots rock level still. We still do a little thing but we keep it clean. As clean as possible for the youth them can learn. Yes I.
MP: And look out for some new things from Mr Pelper in the future from Farmerís Heights yeah?
What have you recorded so far?
MP: I did a tune for Farmerís Heights Nah Give The Youth Dem Food on a new riddim called Briighter Day which Chezidek has a new single upon. So look out for that new single from Mr Pelper. Truths and reality same way. Music is like we do a bit of fast thing, bit of culture same way. Meditation thing. Because Chezidek and me are close from in Jamaica so nuff inspiration come through same way. Because Burning Spear and all them come through the place. Definitely. Blessings.
What do you think of London
B: Well I donít know London but the weatherÖ (LAUGHTER) stay alreadyÖ (LAUGHING) but otherwise I have to keep it Ites!
Good luck with the tour.
B: Farmerís Heights to the world!
MP: Farmerís Heights production! Chezidek set the platform and we say reality and we say culture.
B: Good over evil every time. Bochiniel say that.
Chezidek and the Farmerís Heights crew play the Bless Bar in Ealing on 6/9/09, Concorde 2 in Brighton 9/9/09, the Old Fire Station in Bournemouth 11/9/09, and the Club in Luton 12/9/09.
Review and interview by Angus Taylor 4/9/09