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Twinkle Brothers are stars of reggae

15 February, 2019 — By Dan Carrier

Reggae musicians the Twinkle Brothers play the Jazz Cafe on February 24

BROTHERS Norman and Ralston Grant first formed a band in 1962. And now, well into their fifth decade of making music together, they are still as fresh as the day Norman picked up some drumsticks and Ralston strummed out a rhythm on a guitar.

Calling themselves The Twinkle Brothers, they are up there in the pantheon of legendary reggae acts still gigging and have a line-up that has clocked up scores of years working with some of the genre’s greatest names.

The Twinkles head to the Jazz Cafe on Sunday, February 24 as the famous Camden Town venue launches a programme celebrating some of the most innovative reggae musicians, singers and producers out there.

The Twinkle Brothers’ music reflects both the people they have worked with – think Bunny Lee, Lee Scratch Perry, Duke Reid – and their Rastafarian faith. They have been incredibly prolific, recording 70 albums since they first started gigging.

Also on the Jazz Cafe’s upcoming bill, appearing on March 17, is the one and only Macka B. The Wolverhampton-born singer’s career has also spanned decades, but he is enjoying perhaps his longest spell in the public eye in recent years with two new critically acclaimed albums in the past three years, Never Played A 45 and Health Is Wealth.

Macka – real name Christopher MacFarlane – has become a viral sensation for his weekly shows on his website and YouTube, focussing on his veganism. A patron for the Vegan Society, Macka uses his lyrical ability, soaring vocals and songwriting panache to offer some dietary advice and cooking tips via the medium of a catchy little reggae number. If you’ve not checked out his Medicinal Mondays and Wha Me Eat Wednesdays, search them out, sit back and enjoy.

Macka B will be joined by singer Earl Sixteen, whose hits include the seminal Natural Rootsman.

Macka’s career kicked off in the 1970s and he has worked with the likes of Augustus Pablo, Yabby You and Clement Dodd. And while Earl, who hailed from Kingston, Jamaica, is a leading member of the old-school reggae performers still touring, he is a huge influence in the UK and has been a key player on the trip-hop and dub scenes.

Earl was the lead vocalist for the band Dreadzone and also appeared regularly with Leftfield. In recent years Earl has been recorded by the likes of the Camden Town-based label Tuff Scout and Nick Manasseh.

And if this hasn’t given you enough to satisfy your reggae fix, Camden’s legendary sound system, Reggae Roast, have announced a return to the concept that got them started more than a decade ago, playing some of the finest roots reggae and dub on a Sunday afternoon, at a bar that serves up lovely food.

The concept of a Reggae Roast – hence the name – has mushroomed into one of the leading proponents of modern British reggae music, not just a massive sound systems but a record label and producers, too.

To top all of this, they announced last week that the Reggae Roast have signed for the Trojan Records label – cementing their place as the go-to for fat basslines, horns and plenty of freaky sounds from a dub siren.

They are taking over the Lockside – the bar and balcony overlooking the West Yard at Camden Lock – on Sunday, February 24 for an afternoon session that runs on until 1am. The first 100 people through the door can get their party going by claiming a free rum.


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