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A benefit fir C2G Musical Hall explores deep reggae roots with some of the region’s finest musicians
By Michael Summers
Fort Wayne Reader
The problem with doing a story on some genuinely community-minded and likeable people pooling their talents for a good cause is that no one wants to take the spotlight.
Case in point — on Saturday, June 16, a band of some of the region’s finest musicians, joined by a few special guests, will delve into the history of reggae and all its offshoots at C2G music hall.
The occasion? A benefit for C2G, the not-for-profit all ages music hall that’s been responsible for brining some very interesting acts to town over the last several years.
In the band you’ve got folks like keyboardist Jim Steele; Gregorio “Mandingo” Guadalupe; percussionist Akinlana Dada, who was one of the founding members of the Three Rivers Jenbe Ensemble; multi-instrumentalist Kent “Kiwi” Fingerle, who played with RahJah; and vocalist/percussionist Aurora Rivera, another veteran of many musical groups…
All the members of the band — named Yehuda XCIC — not only know music, they have deep roots in this kind of music, and have performed in its various styles most of their musical lives.
So, put it all together, and you’ve got a tremendous amount of talent coming together for a good cause, and performing some great music.
But try — just try — to get anyone involved with the project to step up and say “okay, I will assume a leadership role for the moment and act as spokesman in this particular instance…” For the amount of skill involved, everyone seems just a little too… nice? Self-effacing? Whatever the case, I hear a lot of, “well, I can’t really take the credit for pulling this together…”
The man I’m referred to: Michael Patterson. The phrase “musical director” is attached to his name, and it makes sense on this occasion. FWR has talked to Patterson several times before. His name tends to spring up — a lot — in musical circles in town. Just a few issues ago, our guest music columnist DA Fisher listed Patterson as one of his musical heroes, writing “I could list all the bands they've been in and are currently in, or all the great talents they collaborated with, or all the records they've play on or helped record. But no, there's not enough space on the page.”
But what do I get when I ask Patterson about Yehuda XCIC and the reggae benefit at C2G? “Well, I’m just sort of pulling some folks together,” he says. “I’m more the utility guy.”
Well, okay… the project really is the brainchild of another member of the band (we’ll get to that in a moment), but in the meantime, Patterson is willing to fill us in on what audiences will hear at the show.
To put it as simply as possible, Yehuda XCIC will perform a cross section of reggae, delving into its many eras and stylistic offshoots. “It’s by no means comprehensive, but we’re just presenting some work from different eras of reggae,” Patterson says. “We start off with some ska stuff and we do a little bit of rock steady, some dance hall like stuff. Of course we do a fair share of Bob Marley, but we mix it up. There are things people might know, but we also do some stuff people might not have heard of for a while.”
The show’s objective, of course, is to get people moving, but Patterson hopes that the band’s song selection might open some ears to the genre’s rich history. “It’s interesting, because over the years I’ve met a lot of people who like reggae, who like the music,” Patterson says. “They know Bob Marley, which is fantastic, because Bob really made it recognized world wide. But I’m not sure many people are aware of the spiritual and political underpinnings of the music.”
Patterson continues: “It’s Caribbean music, it feels good, it’s nice, but a lot of it has to do with the politics of liberation, particularly in the African Diaspora. A lot of the stuff lyrically is about liberation, not just in the political sense, but also in the spiritual sense.”
The band will be joined on some songs by a few special guests, including Abaas Camara, one of the most renowned drummers of his particular generation from West Africa, who has rearranged one of his traditional songs to give it a more reggae flavor; and artist Spennyman, who Patterson says is doing more of a contemporary take on reggae.
Patterson gives credit for the project to Jon Walker, a retinal surgeon in Fort Wayne whose other passion, says Patterson, is music. Dr. Walker was involved in organizing the Blues Fest benefits for the League for the Blind and Disabled the past few years, among other projects. He’s also a member of Yehuda XCIC. “Jon is just a very community-minded person,” Patterson says. “He’s been involved in trying to reform the health care system, to make it more responsive for people. But he also happens to be a really good bass player. So when Jon asked me to bring some people together… yeah, I’ll do anything for Jon.”
Irie Reggae — a benefit for C2G Music Hall
C2G Music Hall
232 W Baker Street
Saturday, June 16 at 8 PM
Tickets available at Brown Paper Tickets.
For more information on C2G and Irie Reggae, visit c2gmusichall.com