The Summer Months in Hampton Roads always bring about several things on which you can count with an absolute certainty:
Stifling humidity, nerve-wracking encounters with tourists, and the legendary reggae band Steel Pulse making a visit to the Boathouse.
l don’t think any other artist, save maybe the Connells, makes more appearances in the 757 than the U.K.’s most highly regarded ragga outfit.
The Pulse has been in what amounts to non-stop tour mode for a little over the last two decades. Just this past week the sprawling ensemble band has been making the rounds thru southern France.
From there they will head over to “Merry Old England” before launching another U.S. leg of the tour with an Independence Day performance at the Boathouse in Norfolk.
The band, originally formed at the Handsworth School in Birmingham, and was comprised of David Hinds (lead vocals, guitar), Basil Gabbidon (lead guitar, vocals), and Ronnie McQueen (bass guitar).
However it is Hinds, who as songwriter, has always been regarded as the creative force behind the band, dating back to their early days pluggin’ away on the British club scene.While Mister Hinds as
remained a permanent fixture, the band has gone thru numerous personnel changes over the years.
But regardless of who may or may not still be in the band, one thing has always remained the same. The message. For as they have explored various styles of music over they years, they have always
managed to stay close to their r0ots.They have always been, and will always be, dedicated to fighting injustice, educating the masses, and promoting positive messages along the way.
“We just can’t ignore the politics, because every life & every soul that is born on this earth is a political ‘entity’ for someone, at some stage” Hinds explains. “We try to deal with the positive spirits. lt means putting aside the guns, the drugs, and all of the things that are ailments of society- especially black communities right now!”
And let us remember people, these guys don’t just talk the talk, they walk the walk. Whether you look back on their million dollar class action suit against the NewYork City Taxi & Limousine Commission in the early 90’s or their work promoting racial tolerance in the wake of James Byrd, Jr’s. brutal murder inTexas a few years back, these cats refuse to back off one bit.
“There is still too much (work) to be done,” says the group’s keyboardist Selwyn “Bumbo” Brown. “We recently performed in Africa for the first timein fifteen years. lt was a tremendous sight to behold and the moral boost was incredibly energizing. But we are well aware of the struggles she (Africa) faces and we look forward to doing what we can to help in the near future.”
Amazingly, the group has somehow managed to throw out a couple of albums the last few years, in spite of their nearly constant touring. While both those releases, the 1997 Rage & Fury and the ’99
live album Living Legacy, earned the rasta collective Grammy nominations, the 1992’s Rastafari Centennial Live remains their definitive piece of work.
It was that album that convinced the band to “return to its roots”. Through returning to their original style, the group has been able to keep their sound relevant to the contemporary tastes and issues facing the world today.
But it must be said, in closing, that if you haven’t heard these guys live, you haven’t really gotten their point.
In a live setting their tracks not only turn into living creatures unto themselves, but they
become so much more immediate and urgent than their studio versions, much like the work of their long-time chum and mentor, one Robert Nesta Marley.