Dwight Pinkney awarded the Martins International Award of Honor

Dwight Pinkney awarded the Martins International Award of Honor

Amid a spectacular stage lighting, great performances, award winners, the successful staging of the 27th International Reggae and World Music Awards (IRAWMA) at the Apollo Theatre in Harlem NYC on May 4th 2008 concluded appropriately with a Finale of Bob Marleys One Love by entertainers, award winners, volunteers and staff.
From the red carpet with the stars to the awards presentation the show was an unqualified success. The stage lighting was bright and the stage prop were complimentary. Former Zap-pow band lead guitarist Dwight Pinkney who was awarded the Martins International Award of Honor along with the absent Freddie McGregor opened the entertainment on with his self-penned Dennis Brown classic ‘How Could I Leave’ segment of the show. However the night’s awards were dominated by the Marley clan with five awards, Ziggy,Marcus Garvey Humanitarian Award,Kymani Most Promising Entertainer and Producers Respect Award and Steven, Best CD -Mind Control, and Songwriter of the Year, Trinidad’s soca maestro Machel Montano, arguably the Caribbean best entertainer created history by winning the most awards (3) for a soca artist for the Best Calypso/Soca Entertainer, Most Outstanding Stage Personality and the Bob Marley Entertainer of The Year award (Sean Paul has the record with 6 one time) Soca artiste Jaydene survived a mike malfunction and came back like trooper as saxophonist Dean Fraser, who doubled as the event’s band leader, collected his award for Best Instrumentalist, then got back up on the bandstand telling the audience “ I have work to do.” Mutabaruka, who said he was running out of space on his fridge to put them, took home his 22nd IRAWMA trophy for Best Poet.

Great ventures for Pinkney Guitarist makes Grammy shortlist, tours widely with Israel Vibration

Great ventures for Pinkney Guitarist makes Grammy shortlist, tours widely with Israel Vibration

With 50 album submissions making the initial shortlist for the coveted Grammy Award in the Reggae Category to be announced next February, there is no shortage of tales from satisfied performers.

However, guitarist Dwight Pinkneys sense of accomplishment comes not simply from being in with, strictly numerically, a one in 50 chance of making the final five, but in his difference from the vast majority of nominees in the category past and present. It is a surprise because instrumentalists hardly get any attention, any of the upfront glory, Pinkney said.

In terms of the quality of the work, though, he is hardly startled by this acknowledgement of Dwight Pinkney & DP Band Plays The Ventures + Jamaican Style. I always try to do my work in the studio, Pinkney said, expressing gratitude to distributor TADS Records for the submission.

Pinkney has been in Grammy territory before, but not in an upfront role. He told The Gleaner that he played on the Grammy-winning albums True Love (Toots and the Maytals, 2005), Sly and Robbie and Friends, (1999) and the trio from Bunny Wailer (Time Will Tell: A Tribute to Bob Marley (1991), Crucial! Roots Classics (1995) and Hall of Fame: A Tribute to Bob Marleys 50th Anniversary (1997).


The two-disc album (one is a live DVD, in which Pinkney changes outfits to move from a trenchcoat threat to a swagging sombrero wearer, as the mood of the music demands) is a tribute to The Ventures, which Pinkney describes as the biggest individual group of that era in the world. The only group bigger than them in the 1960s at least in the West was the Beatles.

In selecting the songs to record for the project, Pinkney went back to his time in that era. These were songs that influenced me as a young singer. I was not even playing the guitar yet. I can remember those songs in the early years of being associated with music, he said. That being a time when the airwaves were far less cluttered did not hurt. In those days the radio selections were not so diverse. You did not have so much material like now. You got to memorise the material based on airplay. It sticks, Pinkney said.

So, he said, these were the biggest, the most impacting Ventures songs that I was exposed to.

Still, there is a plus sign in the albums title, the James Bond Theme 007, Hawaii Five O Theme and Tequila sharing track-listing space with Beres Hammonds I Feel Good, House of the Rising Sun and his own Dwilight Zone.

Dwight Pinkney & DP Band Plays The Ventures + Jamaican Style was recorded over about six months, Pinkney pointing out that the project has its roots in the live shows that the Jamaica Association of Vintage Artistes and Affiliates (JAVAA) did at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel. The person who triggered the idea of covering The Ventures was (JAVAA chairman) Frankie Campbell, Pinkney said. I have to thank JAVAA. That is where everything started from.

Sustainable endeavour

In terms of sales, Pinkney said the record company is satisfied. They know instrumental music takes a longer time to really grab the masses. They are satisfied it is a sustainable endeavour. If they did not get the response they would not send it to the Grammy people.

Pinkney has been on a venture of another kind in recent months, an adventure of a tour with Israel Vibration which took the touring party literally around the world. The four-week trek ran from September 22 to October 22, starting in Europe where they played in France and Belgium, then flew to Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean, east of Madagascar. Then it was back to Europe for a couple more shows, before heading to New Caledonia, in the southwest Pacific Ocean, east of Australia.

Pinkney said the three shows in New Caledonia were very good and they got to interact with the descendants of the original inhabitants. I even planted a tree with one of the chiefs, he said.

They transited through Fiji, flew back to Los Angeles and Miami where they got stuck because of Hurricane Sandy then got back to Jamaica to the good news of the Grammy inclusion.

Pinkney will not be resting on his guitar. In the making is a vocal album to be released next year, to be distributed in the US by Upstairs Music. It will include some of his more popular vocal tracks, such as Nenge Nenge, Bigger Boss (done with Shirley McLean) and the original How Could I Live (made popular by Dennis Brown). He points out that there are other songs he has done, but people know them overseas.

And, with the vocal set adding to an instrumental catalogue which includes Jamaican Memories by the Score, For All Occasions, Home Grown Jamaican and Dwight Pinkney Picks Marley Memories, Pinkney is looking to tour as a vocalist and guitarist. It is not an unfamiliar format, as Pinkney points out that already, in local performances I sing one and two songs.


Mel Cooke, Gleaner Writer

Dwight Pinkney delivers Home Grown Jamaican

Dwight Pinkney delivers Home Grown Jamaican

WHEN DWIGHT Pinkney strapped on his guitar to deliver selections from his fourth and most recent album, Home Grown Jamaican, on Friday evening, he showed an extra-musical characteristic that had been spoken about previously.

Framed by two female harmony singers behind and above him on the stage at the Jamaica Association of Vintage Artistes and Affiliates (JAVAA) headquarters in New Kingston, Pinkney stood close to the audience, played Book of Rules and smiled contentedly, Keith Francis holding down a steady bass.

The guitarists general good nature had been mentioned several times before that evening, on a programme hosted by Patrick LaFayette of KOOL FM, as Home Grown Jamaican ­ and Pinkney himself ­ got the blessings of the music fraternity. Of the albums 21 songs, six are Pinkneys originals, including Heart Massage, One Thing on My Mind and Bingy Reggae, with Puppet on a String,Waiting In Vain, Rivers of Babylon, My Jamaican Girl and Dance With My Father among the other 15.

In introducing Pinkney, Frankie Campbell of the Fab Five Band mentioned his previous projects, including Jamaican Memories By The Score and More Jamaican Memories, and said these albums will never get stale. They will be here forever.

This is not disposable music, Campbell said.

And when he asked if anybody in the audience knew the current number one song in Jamaica and there was no answer, Campbell said none About average.

Asley Grub Cooper, also of Fab Five, in giving an overview of the project, said Dwight is so talented I do not think he knows how talented he is. In addition to being talented, Pinkney has also devised a musical formula that works, as he does his tracks like the original and then does his guitar styling over that.

An instrumental album is even that more difficult to keep your interest. From the very first note Home Grown Jamaican keeps your interest. His guitar is an extension of him, Cooper said.


Tony Laing, radio show host, was the nights main speaker. In addition to congratulating Pinkney on the new album, Laing requested the support of certain business people for music, noting that there were times when some of those same business people fell on hard times and were welcomed to the bar by musicians and bar attendants.

We see them now and me no know if them no remember, but me remember, Laing said, to laughter and applause.

We are in a country with a large music foundation and none of the financial institutions have a portfolio in music, Tony Laing said.

He asked for the establishment of a fund for musicians, saying me know too much musician dead inna almshouse.

President on the Jamaica Federation of Musicians (JFM), Desmond Young, noted the trend of the emerging artistes, naming Bascom X, Chezideck, Fantan Mojah and I-Wayne, and said the one drop beat is back and that means traditional reggae is being played. And we have to commend the radio stations for that. For years we have been beating up on radio.

If radio continues to play good music, Dwights album will be heard a lot, Young said.


The Sharks Listed among Unsung Heroes

The Sharks Listed among Unsung Heroes

The Sharks, led by noted Jamaican guitarist Dwight Pinkney, was one of the first of such ensembles to arrive at Studio One. They did expert instrumental backings on The Wailers Put It On, the Gaylads Lady With the Red Dress, Ken Boothes first hit at Studio One and Youre No Good. At Studio One, the Sharks also wrote and performed the original cut of How Could I Live, later covered by the late Crown Prince of Reggae Dennis Brown.

The dust has seemingly settled, following last weeks blazing article about heated controversies within the Heptones singing group of the 1960s. Now we can be reminded of the significant contributions made to Jamaican music by other similar vocal groups of the period.

Most of them have already been showcased in previous articles The Maytals (July 22, 2012), The Wailers (July 29, 2012), The Techniques (October 21, 2012), The Melodians (October 28, 2012), Desmond Dekker and The Aces (November 25, 2012), and The Heptones (December 1 and 8, 2013).

Groups dominated early Jamaican popular music, with many of the early stars going that route before branching out on their own as solo artistes. Most of the biggest hits of the 1960s came from groups. Some operated as duos, but the most successful were the three-part harmony types like those we mentioned.

The Gaylads belonged to that elite fraternity and, I believe, were the equals of others who were more celebrated. Perhaps, at any other time or in any other place they would have been superstars, but competition between groups at the time was so intense, that they are seldom remembered.

Starting out at a time when gay could easily be used as a prefix to lads without creating a sexual backlash, the group crafted several number-one hits, employing a type of high-pitched harmony singing that was uniquely their own.

It was sometime in 1963 that Winston Delano Stewart, a former member of Boris Gardiners Rhythm Aces, and Harris Bibi Seaton, a prospective singer and songwriter, joined together and enjoyed some measure of success with a few Coxson Dodd-produced recordings. They then added a third member, Maurice Roberts, and began operating as The Gaylads.

All Kingstonians, Stewart was born in 1947, Seaton in 1944 and Roberts in 1945.

The exact circumstances surrounding the naming of the group are somewhat obscure. However, in an interview with Roberts, he told me: It was Mr Dodds choice because in those days, it meant happiness, joyfulness and fun, and not what people take it to mean today. Expanding on the topic, Roberts said that Gaylads, became such a major source of concern in later years, that they were forced to change to Psalms.

Following their initial inroads at Clement Dodds Studio One, the group returned in full force with their first hit recording, the ska-tempoed Lady with the Red Dress in 1966. Roberts, when asked about the motive behind such an unusual title, said Red dresses were very popular at the time, and I guess thats how the name came about.

One particular lady was complimented in the lines:

Believe me you really look fine

Lady you shake that thing alright

Believe me, you jerking alright

Oh lady with the red dress on.

Apart from its erotic lyrics, the recording was an epoch-making one, heralding the advent of bands at Studio One. One of the least-known things about Studio One was Clement Dodds propensity for recording not only singers, but singers who brought along their own bands.

With Seaton doing most of the writing, The Gaylads followed up with transitional ska pieces, Stop Making Love, You Should Never Do That, Dont Say No, and others. They also provided backing vocals on recordings done by other Studio One artistes, including Ken Boothe, for whom Seaton wrote the classic, The Girl I Left Behind in 1967.

The groups debut album for Studio 1 in that same year, Soul Beat, showcased the enduring cuts, Love Me with All Your Heart and Red Rose. However, their follow-up, Sunshine Is Golden, signalled the end of the road with Studio One.

Retaining the same three members, in 1968 The Gaylads signed up with the only female producer in the business, Sonia Pottinger. Immediately, they landed the rocksteady gem, Its Hard to Confess. With Lyn Taitt and the Jets band in attendance and maintaining their high standard, The Gaylads continued with the nonsensical-lyric song, ABC Rocksteady (from Mother Goose Tales), and perhaps their best recording, Over the Rainbows End. All were number one hits.

Their next major stop was at producer Leslie Kongs North and Orange streets premises in 1969. They immediately set that location on fire with another number one single, Theres a Fire. But the piece there that really got the nation rocking was the1971 number one hit, My Jamaican Girl. It is perhaps the most profound song of praise to Jamaican womanhood:

Ive travelled all over the world

Made love to many, many girls

Of all the girls that I like best

Youre the one girl that I cant forget.

By this time, Stewart had just recently exited via the migration route, and in August of that year, Kong suffered a fatal heart attack, dealing two severe blows to the groups progress. The devastated Gaylads, however, showed resilience and did their next smash, Cant Hide the Feeling for producer Rupie Edwards.

Some two years elapsed and another blow landed when Seaton went on a solo career, also via the migration route.

After going the full gamut of ska, rocksteady and reggae, one of few groups to have done so, it was now left to bass singer Maurice Roberts, who is also a competent string bass player, to carry on The Gaylads name. This he did by including brothers Randall and Hopeton Thaxter. However, after releasing one album, Roberts rechristened the group, Psalms, allegedly through pressure from anti-gay activists.

They became a regular fixture of Bunny Wailers band as back-up singers.

Speaking with Roberts from his Vineyard Town residence, he said there is constant dialogue between Seaton and himself to resurrect the group under its original name, mainly for touring purposes, while replacing the ill Stewart.