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Legends And Locals Heat Up T.O. At IRIE Fest, August 1-4, 2008, Toronto

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The seventh annual TD Canada Trust IRIE Music Festival proudly presents an eclectic and sizzling line up of musical tastemakers from August 1-4. Included are reggae’s finest, BYRON LEE AND THE DRAGONNAIRES, FAB 5, CULTURE featuring KENYATTA HILL, gospel legend KAY MORRIS (aka QUEEN NANA SIKA) and local Latin sensation CAFÉ CUBANO. Concerts will take place in two locations, Nathan Phillips Square and Queens Park. All concerts are free admission. For more information, please visit www.iriemusicfestival.com.


Saturday, Aug 2 @ Queens Park:
Byron Lee & The Dragonnaires – www.byronleemusic.com
w/ The Arsenals – www.arsenalska.com

Saturday, Aug 2 @ Nathan Phillips Square:
Café Cubano Featuring Yani Borrell
La Plancha – www.myspace.com/laplanchamusic
DJ Billy Bryans – http://misterbryans.typepad.com/

Sunday, Aug 3 @ Queens Park:
Culture W/ Kenyatta Hill – www.cyberus.ca/~jdooley/index.htm
Steel w/ The Mountain Edge Band – www.myspace.com/lamountainedge  

Sunday, Aug 3 @ Nathan Phillips Square:
Gospel Celebration (presented in association with the Maja International Music Awards)
Kay Morris – (Queen Nana Sika) – www.kaymorris.com
TC3 (Toronto Children’s Concert Choir) – www.tc3.ca
Jimmy Lee Howard – www.jimmyleehoward.com
Roshana – www.myspace.com/roshana 
Sincere – www.myspace.com/sincererap
Patrick Blair – www.myspace.com/patrickblairmusic
As well as Promise, Zamar, N.A. Latin Band, Sean Spicer & Company, L.Y.N.C. and George Olliver

Monday, Aug 4 @ Queens Park
Fab 5 – www.fab5inc.com
w/ Tréson and Ibadan plus special guest Marcia Williams – www.myspace.com/tresonmusic
Samba Squad – www.sambasquad.com

* TD Canada Trust IRIE Fest will also be presenting Special Recognition Awards to Byron Lee, Fab 5 and Culture for their many years of contribution to the advancement of reggae music internationally.


BYRON LEE AND THE DRAGONAIRES www.byronleemusic.com

BYRON LEE is a bandleader, musician, producer, songwriter, mixing engineer, music publisher, record manufacturer, entrepreneur and conceptualized the Jamaican Carnival. He gained astute business skills from his Chinese father and his love for music from his Jamaican mother.

He has won more than 150 awards including:
Order of Distinction bestowed by the Government of Jamaica.
UNICEF United Nations for promoting Caribbean Music
Mayor of Trinidad for promoting Soca throughout the world
Mayor of Guyana making him an honorary citizen

Byron has played piano since the age of five and music is his love and passion.

In 1956 Byron formed his band The Dragonaires, named for the legend of St. George slaying the dragon. The band has thrived for more than 50 years, a record of longevity that beats even that of the Rolling Stones. The man who has done so much for Caribbean Music says, “I am honored to have chosen a profession that has brought joy and happiness not only to Caribbean people but to the entire world.”

THE ARSENALS www.arsenalska.com

The Arsenals have successfully created a signature blend of authentic Jamaican ska, rocksteady rhythms and pop appeal. Since 1994, they have built a broad and dedicated following, keeping their audiences entertained with irresistibly charismatic performances, quality musicianship and a wide selection of catchy numbers.

Led by an astonishingly energetic trombonist named “Dizzzy D” who shares the limelight with “Comfort”, a talented, charming and easy-going lead vocalist, the Arsenals captivate audiences from the moment they hit the stage. Backed up by an accomplished group of musicians, the band delivers an inclusive house-party vibe and crowded dance floor whether they’re playing an intimate club or an outdoor amphitheatre.

The Arsenals have performed with ska legends Toots and The Maytals, Monty Morris, Lord Tanamo (Skatallites), The Toasters, The Slackers and The Satellites. They perform regularly in and around Toronto, tour Canada and the US, are booked annually for festivals, and frequently play private and corporate events.


Hot enough to generate more than a few sparks, “Café Cubano,” an extremely talented salsa band, has hit Toronto – with members from some of the finest Cuban bands, including Valentin y los del Caribe, Adalberto Alvarez, Cubanismo and Habana Ensemble. They have joined superb Toronto musicians to form this highly talented 12-piece salsa band. Café Cubano’s phenomenally energetic performances and lively Latin rhythm move audiences to dance and sing with reckless abandon. The group has graced stages and festivals such as Lula Lounge, Sunfest, Hispanic Fiesta, Kick up your Heels at Harbourfront and Salsa on St. Clair. They’re known to spice up any night with their brilliant combination of passionate vocals, thunderous percussion, intense trumpets and exceptional bass and keyboard sounds. Incorporating Cuban rhythms with strong salsa beats, Café Cubano promises to keep your feet moving and your hearts singing.

The Band Members:
Jorge Betancourt (Piano and Musical Director)
Yaniusky Borrell (Vocals)
Alberto Alberto (Vocals)
Angel Luis Marquez (Vocals)
Reinier Torres (Trumpet)
Alex Michael Borges (Trumpet)
Jorge Maza (Flute and Sax)
Aris Montenegro (Percussion and Vocals)
Frank Marcos Aular (Bass)
Ernesto Vizcaino (Congas)
Jalidan Ruiz (Timbales)
Pablosky Rosales (Tres Cubano and Vocals)

LA PLANCHA www.myspace.com/laplanchamusic

Percussionist bandleader Daniel Stone describes his band La Plancha as the sound of “electric salsa.” La Plancha stake out a unique music territory through the skillful blend of soul/funk a la James Brown played salsa style. The band plays traditional salsa compositions from Ray Barreto, Adalberto Alvarez and Sonora Matancera with the twin keyboard sound of the Fender Rhodes and the Hammond organ. Recruiting a who’s who of Toronto’s Latin/jazz scene, La Plancha consists of Yoser Rodriguez on electric bass, Jeremy Ledbetter on electric piano , David Virelles on synth/organ, Jaun Carlos Cardenas on vocals and percussion, Luisito Orbegoso on timbales and Stone himself on congas. A fixture on the Toronto Latin music scene, Daniel Stone has played with almost every salsa band in Toronto. Perhaps best-known as co-leader of Toronto’s fiercest salsa band “Cache,” Stone, in his 20-year professional career,  has also performed with Alex Cuba, Nelly Furtado, Jane Bunnet, Frankie Negron, Big Sugar, K’Naan, SalsaAfrica, Telmary, and the list goes on and on….

DJ BILLY BRYANS http://misterbryans.typepad.com/

Co-founder of The Parachute Club, Juno award winning record producer, blogger and club DJ, Billy Bryans is one of the leading advocates of Toronto’s fast growing Cuban music scene. As a promoter, music producer and presenter, Bryans has been instrumental in introducing Canadian audiences to the high quality musicianship and dance friendly salsa music that is a product of one of the most influential music countries in the world.

CULTURE W/ KENYATTA HILL www.cyberus.ca/~jdooley/index.htm

Formed in the rich tradition of harmony trios in 1976, Culture quickly became a part of the vibrant, politically charged Jamaican reggae scene of the day. The lineup consisted of Joseph Hill (lead vocals), Albert Walker (backing vocals) and Kenneth Dayes (backing vocals). The singers recorded a series of powerful singles, many of which ended up on their debut album Two Sevens Clash — a hugely popular release in both Jamaica and England. The lyrics demonstrated Hill’s keen awareness of the connection between Jamaica’s history and its social climate. At once Culture became part of a wave of vocal groups (including the Mighty Diamonds and Black Uhuru) that ruled the reggae scene in the late ’70s. Virgin Records picked up their albums, enabling Culture to gain an even larger following outside of Jamaica.

After a brief break-up from 1982 to 1986, the band re-formed to record two highly regarded albums, Culture in Culture and Culture at Work. These releases marked the beginning of a very busy period for the group, including annual albums and countless tours. In 1993 Kenneth Dayes left the group and was temporarily replaced by the singer from Dub Mystic – who was their backing band at the time. By 2003, Culture consisted of Hill, Walker and Telford Nelson. The group continued playing well-received tours in Europe, Africa and North America. In 2000, Culture recorded the album Payday, which was followed by a much-praised dub album mixed by the renowned engineer, Scientist. In the same year a very contemporary -sounding album called Humble African was released, as well as a DVD set titled Live in Africa — taken from a historic show the group performed in South Africa.

Culture has sustained their lengthy career by being both true to their cultural roots, and at the same time able to incorporate new sounds and ideas into their mix. Joseph Hill suddenly became ill while the group were on tour in Europe and passed away in 2006. They decided to finish the European tour with Kenyatta Hill (Joseph’s son and Culture’s audio engineer) singing lead vocals as a tribute to his father. Since then, Kenyatta Hill has continued to tour and record in his father’s place with Culture.

STEEL W/ THE MOUNTAIN EDGE BAND www.myspace.com/lamountainedge  

A versatile roots rock reggae band presently based In Toronto. Band member bring over 25 years of musical experience to the table, with the current players together for over five years. Mountainedge performances are lively and entertaining and they have been invited to numerous music festivals such as Irie music Festival, Jamaica Day, Montreal Reggae Festival and Air Jamaica Day,concert venues and clubs in Toronto, Montreal, Calgary and the US. Mountainedge have worked with artists like such as Tony Rebel, Junior jazz, Ernie Smith, VC, Mark Steel, Tinga Stewart, Mighty Diamonds, Queen Ifrica, Dobby Dobson, Professor nuts and many more. Singer Mark Steel will join them for this year’s IRIE Fest.

KAY MORRIS – (QUEEN NANA SIKA) www.kaymorris.com

Anointed minister, benevolent queen, singer/songwriter, fashion designer, humanitarian/motivational speaker and award-winning, internationally acclaimed gospel recording artist: Kay Morris is all of these things and more.

As a performer, the electrifying Morris captivates her audiences, offering a fresh perspective in a  wide variety of musical styles, allowing her to cross religious, cultural, and racial barriers around the world. She has shared the stage with great artists in both the secular and gospel arenas, and has opened for the likes of Fred Hammond, Jessie Dixon and Ce Ce Winans. Toronto Star journalist Geoff Chapman says that “Kay Morris brings to mind the commanding voice of Mavis Staples of the Staples Singers.”

Morris has been featured in the soundtrack for the short film Sleeping Dogs Lie, which made its 2006 world premiere in L.A. at the Magic Johnson Theatre, and has since toured the international film festival circuit in Beverly Hills, Atlanta, Toronto and elsewhere around the world.

Among her many musical and humanitarian awards are:
• 1995 Canadian Reggae Music Award – Top Female Newcomer
• 2001, 2002, 2004 Canadian Reggae Music Award – Top Female Gospel Artist
• 2003 Maja Awards winner
• 2004 Maja Awards (in two categories)
• 2006 Ghanaian Canadian Achievement Special Award
• 2007 Canadian Reggae Music Awards “Special Award” for service to the Canadian Caribbean community
• 2007 – Recipient of the prestigious Nelson Mandela Humanitarian Award presented by Planet Africa

Morris’ current mission, through the Kay Morris Foundation (KMF) is to give a voice to the voiceless, to advocate for people living with HIV/AIDS, Malaria prevention, orphans, refugees, and street children. She has visited Ghana extensively in the past four years, donating medicine and medical supplies to more than 42,000 refugees; over 1,200 books from the Mississauga Central Library to elementary schools there; clothing, books and toiletries to the children in an orphanage there. In 2006, Morris presented the first consignment of a $1.5million donation of anti-retroviral HIV/AIDS drugs to the Ghana Ministry of Health. The King and people in the region decided to honor Morris for her humanitarian work in Africa, so she was installed Queen Nana Sika of Berekuso, Ghana – benevolent queen. Her humanitarian work continues in Ghana, Kenya and Jamaica.

TC3 www.tc3.ca

Founded in 2001 by the Rev. Denise TC3 (Toronto Children’s Concert Choir & Performing Arts Company) is an arts organization for youth ages 7 to 18 years who come from across the Greater Toronto Area. TC3’s mission is to promote, develop and encourage the talents and gifts of youth in the musical arts through Inspirational music and dance ranging from spirituals to hip-hop, focusing on excellence, holistic development and world-class performance. TC3 is committed to producing a unique world-class youth performing arts company reflective of our great city. Complimentary to this goal is that of developing social skills and global sensitivity in young people, so they are prepared to compete and interact in our global, multi-cultural society. Through TC3 these youth have access to a broad scope of arts experiences, including a performing arts choir, West African dance and drum, contemporary dance forms including blends of modern dance, hip-hop, step, and drama.  

JIMMY LEE HOWARD www.jimmyleehoward.com

Jimmy Lee Howard was born into a musically talented family in Texas, and grew up singing and playing the drums in church and in school. He began playing in groups in the ’60s and performed in nightclubs throughout the American South, He soon became a lead singer, and recorded a single, “On My Way Back Home/The Big Let Down.” Jimmy also had the pleasure of sitting in on jam sessions with the likes of Bobby “Blue” Bland, B.B. King, Jackie Wilson and Gary “U.S.” Bonds, among others.

As Jimmy’s career progressed, he joined groups that backed up such notables as Johnny Taylor (“Disco Lady”), Fats Domino (“Blueberry Hill”), Bobby Freeman (“The Swim”) and many others. Jimmy co-performed with Merle Haggard, and played drums occasionally with Conway Twitty. Jimmy also performed with groups that opened for the likes of The Pointer Sisters and Bob Hope in Las Vegas.

In 1985, Jimmy became a born-again Christian, and began to sing and play only Christian Gospel music. Jimmy played drums and sang frequently on the Christian Channel 42 in California, for the Coast to Coast program. He was featured as a soloist at The Fortress Christian Center Church, was also a part of their Mass Choir, and frequently played drums there.

Jimmy moved to Newfoundland in June of 2000. He has now made it his home and is busy donating his musical and singing talents to various charitable organizations throughout St. John’s. He won Music NL’s award for Gospel Artist of the Year in 2002. He is the recipient of two Maja gospel awards in Toronto, one in 2003 for his original song “My God Is Able” and one in 2004 for Male Artist of The Year. He has been twice nominated for the East Coast Music Awards.

For the past seven years, his music ministry has been concentrated primarily in churches in Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Ontario, and New York. He also extends his talent to drum and vocal training and workshops, and has taught in Newfoundland, Nova Scotia and Ontario.

ROSHANA www.myspace.com/roshana 

This young artist (still in her teens), is considered to be the fresh new voice in R&B, with a confidence far beyond her years. With her emotionally expressive lyrics and rich vocal intensity, she has the ability to compel the listener to ponder the genuine message she delivers through her music. This soulful singer has been influenced by the likes of Lauryn Hill, Fred Hammond, Boys II Men, Beyonce and Alicia Keys, but there’s no doubt Roshana has developed her own unique style and sound with her heartfelt riffs and penetrating lyrics. She has headlined at many local events and has already been a recipient of the prestigious Maja Award for Best Urban Performer in 2006.

SINCERE www.myspace.com/sincererap  

Twenty four year old North Londoner SINCERE, cracked the UK hip hop scene with a guest feature on a track with Brit rap legend Skinnyman. Since his rather explosive introduction SINCERE has been a regular at one of London’s most notorious hip hop monthlies, KUNG FU, where he has had the opportunity to hone his skills as a performer. News spread of his energetic performances and it wasn’t long before he was bouncing around the renowned stages of CARGO and the legendary JAZZ CAFE, establishing himself as an artist with real integrity, one who could gain the much sought after respect of the underground, whilst meeting critical acclaim and ultimately commercial success. You can’t mention SINCERE and not talk about “That’s Not Ganster”, the Young Entrepreneur released his first video in 2005. It ushered in a new generation of artists that where hungry to express their own angst in a uniquely London-centric way. It was an instant hit premiering on Channel U and receiving immediate rotation on major radio, all the pirates and the MTV network.

PATRICK BLAIR www.myspace.com/patrickblairmusic  

Jamaica born Patrick Blair learned guitar very early on, while attending church where his grandfather ministered through music. At 18, his passion for reggae music was apparent, and one night at a service, the Pastor gave an altar call that Blair felt was intended for him. He has since dedicated his life to God and to spreading the word through his musical gifts. As well as composing and writing for others, he works on his own creations, (riddims), and has released his freshman project Peace and Love. Already a huge success in the first two weeks after it’s release in Canada, it is also getting airplay throughout the US and in the Caribbean. Blair has shared the stage with several artists namely Sanchez, Prof. Nutts, Prodigal, Min. Goddy Goddy, Sherwin Gardner, Stitchie, Marvia Providence, Papa San, George Banton and many more. A very versatile and multi-talented musician, Blair can play several instruments including the organ, bass guitar and drums. He is currently an active member at his church and involved in the music ministry department.

FAB 5  www.fab5inc.com

Fab 5, formed in 1970, is Jamaica’s pre-eminent popular band, whether measured by record sales at home, hits on the charts, frequency of engagements or major awards won over the years. They backed Johnny Nash on all the reggae cuts comprising most of his platinum album I Can See Clearly Now. Two singles from that album, “Guava Jelly” and “Stir It Up”, established Bob Marley as a major songwriter on the international scene.

Fab 5 have enjoyed an endless succession of hits in Jamaica. In their early years such songs as “Chirpy Cheep”, “Shaving Cream”, “Oh, Dad” and “Love Me For A Reason”, and their musicality and showmanship made Fab 5 all the rage on the dance and show circuits. More recently, they have kept on top by releasing such songs as “Yu Safe,” “Ring Road Jam,” “Feeling Horny,” “Computer Mad,” “All Night Party,” “Sweat,” “Don’t Wear None” and “Mango.”

Their 20 albums have been as successful as their singles, and their multi-award winning soca album Yu Safe was one of the most popular albums produced in Jamaica in the ’80s. Their Fab 5 Live – The Ultimate Vintage Jamaican Party Mix, volumes one through four, have been hugely successful. Their soca smash “Shape” is still very popular, and the band’s versatility is proven by Dugu-Dugu, their all-reggae release and the preceding all-ska album Ska Time.

The busiest band in Jamaica, Fab 5 are in great demand, not only for concerts and dances, but also in the studio, where they are the leading creators of commercial jingles for radio and television. They have their own recording studio (Stage Studio) and record label and distribution company (Stage Records). In 2003, Fab 5 received the Prime Minister’s Award for Excellence in The Performing Arts for their services to Jamaican music. Fab 5 have dominated the Jamaican awards for show and dance bands. Their collection of major awards, by far the greatest of any entity in Jamaican music, includes 29 between 1986 and 1996, from all principal sources – the JBC, RJR, the Daily Gleaner, the Star, Rockers, the Jamaica Music Industry (JAMI) and the Jamaica Federation of Musicians (JFM). The most recent are the 2000-2002 JFM Best Show Band Awards; The Reggae Soca Awards Best Soca Band 2002-2003; and a 2007 Lifetime Achievement Award from Reggae Sunfest.

The band comprises three 1970 foundation members — manager Frankie Campbell (bass); Harold (Jr) Bailey (guitar, flute and saxophone now part-time and overseas sound engineer); and musical director Grub Cooper (drums and lead vocals) — Sidney Thorpe (keyboards), 1979; Donovan Lee Palmer (keyboards), 1991; Romeo Gray (trombone) and Glenroy Samuels (guitar) both 1995 and Andre Palmer (Trumpet) 2006. Musicianship, dedication, integrity and discipline are the hallmarks of Fab 5, who have earned and retained the respect of the music industry, critics and general public over the past 36 years, and are all set for continued success in the future.

TRÉSON AND IBADAN w/special guest MARCIA WILLIAMS www.myspace.com/tresonmusic

Tréson, the Montreal-born singer-songwriter and instrumentalist, emerged on the international music scene in 2005. His gift for expressing raw emotions and channeling a spiritual energy through his music is akin to those who have inspired him, including Ernestine Benson, Bob Marley, Kenny Rogers and Ray Charles. His soulful voice and guitar playing is captivating and Reggae Xclusive Magazine says, “every moment I spend with this man and his music is a moment to cherish.”

In 2005, Tréson produced the Treson Meets VX EP. His first single, the chart-topping “Moments,” became one of the most requested songs on both community and commercial radio in Toronto.

2006 was a momentous year for Tréson. His songs “Jen-Ee-Rocka” (Dubmatix Remix), “Moments”, and “Dirt, Dust and Sand” (from the recently released Dubmatix album Atomic Subsonic) have all received global airplay and tremendous feedback. Marlon Regis of The Beat magazine in Los Angeles gave the Dubmatix remix of “Jen-Ee-Rocka” four stars.

Tréson has shared the stage with prestigious reggae artists such as Beres Hammond, Marcia Griffiths, Collie Buddz, Cherine Anderson and more. He was invited to headline the final Reggae Revival at Original Motorcycle in Toronto, and has also performed at the Montreal International Reggae Festival, Afri-Cari Fest at Kingswood Music Theatre (Paramount Canada’s Wonderland), Rastafest at Toronto’s Harbourfront Centre, and American Express Canada’s VIP pre-parties for the Mary J. Blige and Black Eyed Peas concerts at Toronto’s Molson Amphitheatre. A highlight performance was at the Bob Marley Tribute held at Lee’s Palace in Toronto and aired Live on CKLN 88.1.

Currently working with some of the top engineers and producers – Sly and Robbie, “Specialist” Dillon, Shane Brown, Alborosie, Roland McDermot and Kos Michael from Pha Real Entertainment – Treson will be recording in Jamaica at Tuff Gong Studios for a release in 2008. 

SAMBA SQUAD www.sambasquad.com

Founded by award-winning percussionist Rick Shadrach Lazar, Samba Squad is an innovative group that is forging new directions by mixing world rhythms with the sound-power and street-feel of the drums of the Afro-Brazilian Samba tradition. The Squad’s 16-plus-member “percussion posse” busts out in energy and excitement. Samba Squad embodies the joy of embracing different cultures, and is the personification of change and exchange. The musical roots of Afro-Brazil, Afro-Cuba, North and West Africa, as well as elements of urban funk and hip-hop, are dropped into a seething cauldron to produce a dance-till-you-drop tour of global grooves. Featuring members of all ages and backgrounds, The Squad is a microcosm of cosmopolitan Toronto. We respect traditions while adding original influences to create one of the most exhilarating musical experiences in Canada. Versatile and flexible Samba Squad has done everything from street festivals to stage shows, TV shows, TV commercials, and has appeared in independent films, folk and jazz festivals, corporate functions, weddings, bar mitzvahs, funerals and hands-on workshops, both on the corporate team-building and school levels.

The Squad’s past performances include :
City TV 2008 New Year’s Eve Live TV Gala, Toronto
Toronto Downtown Jazz Festival
Muhtadi’s International DrumFest Tobago
Toronto Raptors, Toronto Argos and Toronto Blue Jays half-time shows
Governor-General’s Awards on CBC TV
The Squad has opened for Sarah McLachlan and is a regular guest performer for Canadian flamenco phenomenon Jesse Cook, appearing on two of his albums  as well as his recent DVD.

Samba Squad has released two albums, Samba Squad (2000) and Batuque (2006). The release of Batuque coincided with the world premiere of the Riddle Films’ documentary Samba Squad: Drums We Love, which first aired on Vision TV on September 2006. This documentary was commercially released in 2008 as a DVD. The Squad was awarded the UMAC (Urban Music Association of Canada) Award for Best World Recording for their first release. They have evolved from a community-based drumming group into one of the most dynamic and sought-after acts on the Canadian world music scene.

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Written by Staff Writer