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Houston's Reggae Bands

Reggae is now a worldwide phenomenon. Having originated in Jamaica, Reggae has now spread to countries all around the world. Thus, it's no surprise that the nation's sixth largest city, Houston, Texas, should have bands specializing in Reggae music. Houston Reggae bands have the distinct advantage of being closer to the Caribbean than most of the United States and, due to this proximity, finds a large Jamaican population existing in the suburbs of the city. This community of Jamaican Reggae lovers would naturally create a demand for Houston Reggae bands to provide entertainment for their various events and celebrations.

Probably the best of all scenarios would be to find a band that also performed Caribbean Calypso, or Soca, music. (Modern day Calypso music is now called "Soca". It is said that the term came from the combination of the letters "So" from Soul, with that of the "Ca" in Calypso to become Soca!) Houston Reggae bands that can combine these two distinctly Caribbean styles would indeed make for a fun, diverse mix of tempos for any event.

One such Houston-based group that does so is the band Irie Time. They also have the distinction of being the premier ensemble of Houston Reggae bands, performing together as a band for over 15 years. The group has released numerous original CDs, and has toured through the United States and Europe over the years. Their website, IrieTime.com, features excerpts from their albums, as well a video captured by a fan at a recent concert. The group is known for their extraordinary musicianship, and for their ability to tailor their sound to uniquely fit every event they play ... from huge international festival concerts, to the smallest, most intimate reception.

A product of many cultures, Irie Time's world class personnel span the globe. Their bassist, Jairus Mage, came to Houston from Kenya, East Africa because of his love for Reggae music and the strong base the music held in the city. Irie Time recruited Jairus within his first year of residency in the U.S., and he has been with the group from its beginnings. A.B. Olowele, Irie Time's keyboardist, toured the world with perhaps Nigeria's most famous son, Femi Kuti, whose father was the international Nigerian superstar, Fela Kuti. A.B.'s astounding talent and experience have raised Irie Time to new musical heights, and his keyboard playing can be heard and viewed at the exciting fan video that resides on the Irie Time website.

An American, who traveled extensively in Jamaica for many years, is Irie Time's lead vocalist and guitarist, Scottie McDonald. Scottie lead the band to the streets of the Reggae (and Jamaican) capital of Kingston, Jamaica, to record tracks with famed Jamaican guitarist, Earl 'Chinna' Smith. Chinna played guitar in Bob Marley's Wailers band during an expansive phase of Marley's career, and later became the driving force behind Bob Marley's son, Ziggy Marley, as the Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers band became a worldwide phenomenon. Chinna was also a founding member of Jimmy Cliff's Oneness band, and accompanied Jimmy through his astounding career on Columbia Records and his resulting Grammy. (Jimmy Cliff was the only other candidate under serious consideration by Chris Blackwell's Island Records to receive the backing for Island's newly discovered phenomenon, Reggae. Blackwell chose to back Bob Marley, and the rest is history!)

Earl 'Chinna' Smith guided Scottie and Irie Time through some of the finest arrangements of the band's early career, and put Houston Reggae bands on the map. Irie Time continues to perform arrangements produced in those Jamaican sessions, and has expanded and enhanced the songs up to the current day. One need only hear their live album, entitled "Live Up", which was recorded on tour in Europe, to hear the maturity of those Jamaican arrangements.

The IRIE TIME band performs Caribbean Reggae and Soca music, and continues to release original music CDs with worldwide distribution. More information can be obtained at www.IRIETIME.com or by contacting them directly at 713-398-3798.

IRIE TIME is based out of Houston, Texas and commutes to locations throughout the United States by means of the city's two international airports, enabling the band to provide entertainment services to all 50 states, including the Texas cities of Abilene, Austin, Beaumont - Port Arthur, Bryan - College Station, Conroe, Corpus Christi, Dallas, Ft. Worth, Lubbock, Nacogdoches, San Marcos, and San Antonio, TX, as well as Louisiana locations of Alexandria, Baton Rouge, Lafayette, Lake Charles, New Orleans and Shreveport, LA, and cities across the nation.

IRIE TIME also performs events internationally and has agency representatives in Europe, Japan, Canada, Mexico, Central America, and South America.



Guide to Buying Quality Musical Equipment

Welcome to the amazing world of playing a musical instrument! Playing a musical instrument;

Builds greater social and team skills

Improves reasoning capacity and problem solving skills

Improves maths and language performance

Improves memory, concentration, creativity, self esteem and self discipline

Some Truths about Music!

TRUTH 1: Everyone is musical and nearly all of us have the ability to sing and to play an instrument. Of course some of us have more aptitude than others. That's natural, in exactly the same way that some people are more gifted than others in sport, or maths, or any other area of learning.

TRUTH 2: Because everyone is musical everyone can develop their musical skills to the point that they are able to. Very few of us will become professional musicians but most of us can have a life of enjoyment and achievement through making music.

TRUTH 3: There is no one way to learn to play an instrument. Over the years various methods and approaches have been developed. Each approach will suit one person but not necessarily another. Individuals need to find a style and approach that best suits them.

TRUTH 4: Music is often best enjoyed when it is shared with others. That 'other' can be a teacher or a member of the family. They can be friends, or a class of other players, a band or a whole orchestra. The important thing about making music is that you make your music with other people as soon and as often as you can.

TRUTH 5: All music is made up of the same core elements such as melody, rhythm, harmony and tone. These precepts of music are evident in all styles from classical to rock. There is no best music through which to learn nor is there any right order as to which style should come first. Success and enjoyment are more dependent on the learning approach and the student's motivation and goals than whether you are playing Blur or Beethoven.

TRUTH 6: There are two major aspects to music, playing an instrument and understanding and being musical (some people call it music theory). These two elements are not separate subjects and should be integrated in the process of learning and developing as a musician.


There are many things to think about when choosing a suitable instrument including:

• The age of the student

• The character of the student

• The kind of music they want to play

• The cost

• The practicalities (such as size and portability of the instrument)


On the surface it is easy to think that a student or beginner instrument is just a cheaper version of what the professionals play. While student instruments are cheaper they are not what 'cheaper' normally implies less well designed or manufactured. In fact a good student instrument offers special attributes that assist the learner to progress and enjoy their music making. This includes things like less resistance (resistance refers to how much pressure or effort is required to make the sound) being built into a student woodwind or brass instrument making the instrument easier to blow for the inexperienced player through the careful design of mouthpieces and bodies. A lower action on a guitar (action refers to the distance between the fret board and the strings) makes playing easier and more fluent for young or inexperienced hands.


If you are already a player then the best advice anyone can give you is to go out and play all the instruments you can until you find the one that suits you and your budget best. There is simply no substitute for trying and selecting the instrument you will make your own.


You may not wish to buy an instrument immediately in case it turns out not to suit you or your child, you may choose to buy a second hand instrument.

Some music services (organisations contracted by the Local Authority to provide music tuition in state schools and at music centre's) and schools offer instruments on loan to beginners; many others (including some retailers) operate rental systems that, for a modest fee, provide for an

experimental trial period. This is invaluable for the more expensive instruments as it allows your child to get a feel for what is involved in learning, playing and maintaining the instrument before actually buying one. The instrument must be appropriate for your child; however you intend to obtain it. Learning on a sub-standard instrument is extremely demoralising and will prevent your child progressing. You do not have to buy the most expensive instrument, but it must be fit for purpose and properly set up to suit your child - try to consult a teacher or music shop. If you are offered the loan of an instrument by a friend or family member, or are considering the purchase of a second-hand instrument, a teacher should check it for suitability before it is used. However good an instrument is, it may not necessarily be appropriate for your child. Most young string players, for example, begin learning on specially-made smaller instruments and will find it very uncomfortable (if not impossible) to play an instrument that is too large.


The best advice is to talk to other musicians, music teachers and music stores to advise on the brands and models to look out for. These are the people with the experience to direct you to the kinds of products that they trust to do the job for them. There is no shortage of great products and brands so you will usually be spoilt for choice.


Play music and Have Fun Doing It

All right, so you are a new piano player and you are tired of playing the same old stuff. You want to be able to sit down at the piano and have some fun. With the skills you have learned in learning to play the piano, you will now be able to play music and have fun doing it.

What type of music genre do you like? Country western, the oldies, today's pop. Go out and purchase the sheet music for your favorite music and practice it. One reason people become discouraged in playing the piano is that they play the same music time after time. There is no variation, no fun in playing the piano. So pick up a few different types of music, not just one.

By taking that first step in going outside your comfort zone and investing in a different genre of music, you will soon be able to play if you keep at it. Practice the music that you have purchased. Yes, sorry, I said practice. As with trying to do anything well there is always practice involved. After all, can you truly become accomplished at anything without any practice at all?

Once you have given the consistent effort that it takes to practice, you will find that there are many opportunities available to you. Maybe you have dreamed of playing the piano in a piano bar, or maybe it was just playing in front of your friends. Either way, think of the fun you would have, playing the music that makes people happy and being able to actually watch people love the music you play.

If this is something that you would be interested in doing, be prepared. You will first have to know a multitude of music and songs, but definitely don't let this discourage you. You can play music and have fun too. Just make sure that you are prepared for any type of song requests that come your way.

How much fun could you have playing for family functions? And having your family to be proud of your hard earned accomplishments, to finally be able to do something that you love to do and have fun doing it. Music is able to bring so much happiness to people and being able to be one of the providers of music and having fun doing it can be no more rewarding.

There are so many people out there that would love to be able to play music that they love, especially in the world today, with all the stress and the way the economy is at present. By being able to play music and have fun doing it, you are not only being rewarded, you are helping to relieve built-up tension and stress.

For all of us that had to take piano lessons and complained but kept at it, we really should thank our parents. Little did they know that they would be opening a completely new world to us, a world of music and fun. A world where we can not only play music for ourselves, but also share our ability to play and have fun doing it.


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