Interview with Courtney ‘Bam’ Diedrick – Grammy Drummer touring the World with Damian Marley

(Cover Photo credit: @radiantsun9)

Courtney Diedrick, also known as “Bamdrumz”, is the official drummer for Damian Marley. We meet him in O2 Academy Leeds (Uk) during Stony Hill European Tour 2018. Straight from Jamaica, and exactly from Brown’s Town (Saint Ann), “Bam” informs us about the legendary drummers who inspired him during his journey: Carlton Barrett from Bob Marley & The Wailers, Sly from Sly and Robbie, Squidly Cole from Stephen Marley, Deleon White also known as Jubba from Dubtonic Kru and many more. He feels good to inspire the new generations today, especially in his community, because he believes this is the meaning of playing music.

Secondly, he underlines the attachment with his family and to the brothers John, Rayon and Sean. All his siblings are musicians and they helped in molding his career prior to furthering his studies at Edna Manley College of Music in Kingston. His older brother John met Damian in Montego Bay and later introduced Sean aka “Young Pow” for the audition as keyboardplayer, who surprisingly saw that drummers were also being auditioned, so he passed on the news to “Bam”. His history began much earlier when he started playing in church at age of 16, later on in Hotels, teaching music in high school and now touring the world with “Jr Gong”. He still remembers his level of anxiety when he went to audition to play and he could see a long line of drummers from around the world waiting for their turn. Despite the insecurities of the moment, Courtney “did his thing” and reached the goal. He discussed the importance of never forgetting that positive vibration that musicians should feel when playing their instruments. He tries to treat every opportunity he gets to play with passion as if it was his first time playing the drums: “Playing with Damian is a great feeling that will never leave me because the moment you lose that feeling, you lose everything”. 

Then we talk about the most beautiful memories of his tours in the world: “We have a lot of highlights and many other stuffs that have happened on the road, but to visit the Mother Land Africa was a huge deal for me, it was always my dream even before I started touring.”. “Bam” tells us how much his origins have influenced even his style of playing. Reggae is a music full of feelings that reminds us of the past, for example slavery: “You can feel emotions in reggae – he continued – and my playing has a lot to do with my roots and my culture”.

Courtney is the Grammy Drummer of this year with “Stony Hill” Album. Nicely, he gives thanks to all the fans for it sharing with them his happiness about this result:“I rememeber all the nights that we spent in the studio with my crew without getting any sleep and now this great joy finally pays off”.

  (Photo Credit: @itseltonbrown)

He didn’t work only with Damian Marley but with several international artists as Mick Jagger, Nas, Kieth Richards, Eric Clapton, Dave Stewart, Joss Stone, Playing for Change P.F.C., I-Taweh, Jah Cure and many more. Playing for Change is a project between street musicians and mainstream ones from all over the World. This group is the perfect example to show people we are more alike than different and it doesn’t matter our culture or the color of our skin. Reggae music is a universal language.

One of Courtney’s future projects is to give more light to the jamaican drummers featuring them on a documentary. Another project is about his productions that are in a pause right now, but will be out soon.

Passion, talent, determination, attitude, gratitude and humbleness are just some of the features that makes Diedrick so popular and respected in the actual worldwide musical scene. We are waiting to hear his riddims and to appreciate him in the role of producer as well.

Eugenia Conti

 

ROTOTOM SUNSPLASH 2018 DAY 01 / Stars of the main stage : Julian Marley, Cocoa Tea Ft Koffee and Ben Harper

The first night of “Rototom Sunsplash 2018 – 25 years walking together” was explosive. The day one of the biggest European Reggae Festival started last evening with high-level performances. On the main stage there were Julian Marley from Jamaica, Cocoa Team ft Koffee from Jamaica and Ben Harper from Usa. Julian Marley & the Uprising gave us a great show as usual. “Juju” conquered the spectators reinterpreting some Bob Marley’s hits like One Love and Exodus. The brand new album of Julian Marley will be out very soon. Then there was the turn of Cocoa Tea that smashed up the stage. His energy was incredible for the whole performance and his special guest Koffee was the real revelation for the Rototom’s crowd. Koffee is only 18 years old, but her talent and intelligence is impressive. She was defining herself blessed to have the opportunity to share the stage with a veteran name of the Jamaican music as her mentor Cocoa Tea. Last star on the main stage was Ben Harper. Ben leaded the massive during the show with his historical band the Innocent Criminals and the sound of his own guitar. After it everyone moved in the dancehall area to enjoy Spice’s performance and the New Level Bcn Crew, sound system from Spain. Spice confirmed yesterday in Benicasim her title of “Reina of Dancehall” and we must give a big up to her official dancer Rebel as well. Tonight we’re attending legendary names on the main stage: Groundation (Usa), Sly & Robbie, Yellow Man, Johnny Osbourne, Bitty McLean (Jamaica/Uk) and “dulcis in fundo” Jimmy Cliff (Jamaica).

Article Eugenia Conti

Photo Gallery Noctis

Richie Stephens & the Ska Nation Band to perform at the National Stadium in Kingston

Kingston, JA: Singer Richie Stephens and his 17-member Ska Nation Band will headline this year’s Grand Gala, the premier entertainment event for the celebration of Jamaica’s 56th Independence at the National Stadium in Kingston on August 6, 2018.

The entertainment event will be attended by a number of Jamaican dignitaries, including Governor General Sir Patrick Allen; Prime Minister Andrew Holness; Opposition Leader Dr Peter Phillips; Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange; Speaker of the House Pearnel Charles; Chief Justice Zaila McCalla; Jamaica Defence Force, Chief of Staff Major General Rocky Meade; Police Commissioner George Quallo; and Mayor of Kingston Delroy Williams.

“To be invited to perform at Grand Gala for the people of Jamaica ranks as one of our biggest and most important assignments since the group was formed two years ago” Stephens disclosed.

The ‘Life Your Life” singer, who has travelled the world and performed as a brand Ambassador for the Jamaica Tourist Board, (JTB) spoke about the significance of this assignment.

“Ska is big internationally, especially in places like Japan, parts of the USA and Italy but we don’t celebrate it in Jamaica anymore. This is an opportunity to educate the youths of Jamaica about Ska and let them know that this beautiful music originated in Jamaica in the late 1950s and was the precursor to rocksteady, reggae and dancehall music. In fact Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, and Jimmy Cliff, all started out playing ska as teenagers. Ska is the mother of reggae. Without Ska there would be no reggae” he explained.

Stephens said his passion for ska was developed as a youngster.

“My dad was the person who introduced me to Ska. He was one of the baddest ska dancers in town,” he confessed.

Ska Nation Band member Papa Leu, who is from Salento, Italy spoke about performing at Grand Gala.

“This assignment has historical and cultural significance” Leu confessed.

“We in Italy love Ska music. We are elated that the government of Jamaica has given us this platform to showcase music that was originally created in Jamaica. It is my dream that this performance set the stage for some sort of cultural exchange between Italy and Jamaica” Leu reasoned.

Rankin Lele of Ska Nation and Adriatic Sound in Italy spoke about the opportunity to perform in Jamaica again, having performed at Reggae Sumfest in Montego Bay last summer.

“Performing at Sumfest last year was a life changing experience. In everything we have done since we always represent Jamaica. We feel we are unofficial ambassadors of this beautiful county that gave us this great music Ska” he noted.

In 2016, Stephens & The Ska Nation Band released their debut studio album titled “Internationally.” “Root of the Music” – the title track and lead single from their second full-length album will be released in August. The lyrics bear testament to the many genres Jamaica has gifted the world, while the musical arrangement seamlessly blends these styles together.

BRAND NEW VIDEOCLIP / Living It Up – Damian Marley (03-30-2018)

“Living it up” is the brand new videoclip  from Damian Marley’s Grammy Winning album “Stony Hill”. In this song, Jr Gong explains to his son the story of their legendary family. Damian Marley shows his heritage all the places in Jamaica where he grew up and where even Bob Marley lived. The message of the melody is to never stop believing in your dreams to go out from the ghetto and to have a better lifestyle.

LYRICS

But have you made it out
Out of the ghetto?
Believe in your dreams
Believe you and me, don’t let go
We’re living it up
We’re having a good time baby
I was born uptown of the ghetto dream
Now ain’t life crazy?
Daddy made it out
Out of the ghetto
Believe in your dreams
Believe you and me, don’t let go
We’re living it up
Having a good time baby
I was born uptown of the ghetto dream
Now don’t be lazy
Trenchtown have a grandson
Growin’ up to be somebody
Gong to the zilly
Yo me flow phenomenally
I am the kind of thing that doesn’t happen normally
I’m a one in a zillion
Yo dawg, if you want some
Good life finally
Perhaps change your night time hobby
Come out of the old crime lobby
And benefit from your wisdom
Me ah gwan livin’ top life is better than great
Every other day we buy a dozen dub plate
Put in our hustle, we nuh sit down and wait
Nuff ah pull no muscle, no it’s never too late
Dey gwan celebrate in a rich people place
Ya likkle rastaman from Trenchtown find di gate
With food in our bled and drinks in our crate
We sing till da neighbour dem wake
But have you made it out
Out of the ghetto?
Believe in your dreams
Believe you and me, don’t let go
We’re living it up
We’re having a good time baby
I was born uptown of the ghetto dream
Now ain’t life crazy?
Daddy made it out
Out of the ghetto
Believe in your dreams
Believe you and me, don’t let go
We’re living it up
Having a good time baby
I was born uptown of the ghetto dream
Now don’t be lazy
Uptown Jamaica born an’ raised
On the playground is where I spent most of my days
Burning babilonio and dem dirty ways
While watchin’ all the rich kids goin’ astray
Uptown Jamaica born an’ raised
On the playground is where I spent most of my days
Big city life Kingston, an Mo Bay
And if you think me sell out
Tell dem ain’t no way
So, live it up
Trenchtown to Rema
Riverton, South side to jungle
Sherlock, Gyaden to Spanglas
The inland, Three Mile to Bactu
Portmore, sea view, Spanish Town
Nine Mile, downstown to Flankers
Falmouth, Westside, Orange Hill
But have you made it out
Out of the ghetto?
Believe in your dreams
Believe you and me, don’t let go
We’re living it up
We’re having a good time baby
I was born uptown of the ghetto dream
Now ain’t life crazy?
Daddy made it out
Out of the ghetto
Believe in your dreams
Believe you and me, don’t let go
We’re living it up
Having a good time baby
I was born uptown of the ghetto dream
Now don’t be lazy

Interview with Answele / Humble and Talented 20 Years Old Artist from Jamaica (Young Pow Prod.)

After the journey of Gege Vibes in Jamaica last summer, we were able to appreciate closely the vibrations of the Caribbean Island from a musical point of view. Bob Marley’s homeland is not only today represented by the Reggae. In fact there are many branches of the genre that have developed over the years and the new sounds that have been created. We could say that today the jamaican music influenced many other genres contaminating it. The Jamaican talents who try to follow their way through their artistic skills are multiplying more and more. Finally the mentality to prefer music and believe in his own dream to the ghetto’s life is being consolidated. Especially in the very young artists. Then I’ve interviewed a singer and musician originally from the area of ​​Trelawny (Jamaica): Answele, only 20 years old. He grew up becoming passionate about music after being in church almost every Saturday at a very tender age, as a lot of jamaican people. The faith is important there as much as music. It was precisely in his parrish that begins his career starting in to play the drums in that place.

“The problem was that my true love for music was for the reggae and not for the liturgical one, but it was not accepted in my church or at home where my father disapproved my behaviour for disobeying to his instructions to don’t perform in reggae and dancehall parties”, Answele said.

But the guy continues to trust himself creating a small label to appear on the scene with the first recordings. In 2016, he experiments different musical genres such as lovers-rock, Hip Hop, Hard-core Dancehall and meets the Jamaican producer Sean Diedrick, owner of the brand Young Pow Productions and historical keyboarder of Damian Marley, as well as Winning Grammy co-producer of Stony Hill Album. Young Pow invests a lot of energy producing the new Answele’s Ep and recording the songs in the famous Big Yard Studio and Tuff Gong Studio, the Bob Marley’s one, both in Kingston Capital (Jamaica). The new Answele’s work is coming out. Let’s hear what his feelings are before the international launch of it.

Your passion for the music started in the church’s environment when you were only a child. Say us something about the beginning of your musical journey

 It was a bit complicated. Parents were strict so i was basically disobeying rules. I was engaged in a lot of singing activitIes at church and I was very good at singing harmonies too, but I would listen mostly to reggae songs on the radios and all I knew is that I enjoyed the sounds and I was having fun singing them among my peers.

 When you grew up from a child to a boy you understood that your real inspiration was the reggae. What represent this musical genre in your life?

I think the way to express myself through my lyrics, the consciousness and a little of my style of music. I enjoyed listening to Reggae artists nation wide and I could feel their music from within and how inspiring it was to me. I was thinking : “I want people to feel it when they listen to any of my songs”.

 How much your community influenced your music and your style?

 My community does play a part, but telling the truth I sing about topics that happen globally across the World every day. Everywhere there are people who are either not with you or genuine people who wants to see you in the way that you aspire to become. As well as there are people who needs motivation through listening music.

What about the creation of TeamTripleWorks music and the collaboration with the great producers Young Pow and Sherieta?

 TeamTripleWorks music was officially created by me and two other associates Bvrban and Ricky Cee in 2015. We all had different talents, I am the harmony vocalist & Graphic Designer, Ricky Cee is the engineer and Bvrban is the beat maker. Then a year ago i was introduced to Young Pow and I met Sherieta few months later, they both loved the sound of my voice and decided to play a major role in my production.

“F U Poverty” is a released dancehall single with a strong lyric. What is for you the way to forget the poverty and to be successful?

 Staying Focus and continue working hard.

Your new single “Stayed” is out in the digital shops. What about the meaning of this song?

 I think I stepped a little out of the box to compose “Stayed”. This song is about a thing that happens every day : men cheating and regretting it afterwards. The speciality about this tune is that I got the instrumental from Young Pow during a time I was thinking about a complicated relationship and it influenced the entire song. This song is on the tracklist of Destiny Riddim, a compilation of different jamaican artists including Popcaan, iOctane, Black Am I and more.

What are your future projects ?

Well I have a new EP (Short Album) that is releasing soon from Young Pow Productions which will include 6 tracks. “Stayed” is also apart of it. The remaining five songs are fire so I am urging the mass to look out for this EP, trust me, the tunes them nuh normal !

Eugenia Conti

 

 

TRA SOGNO E REALTA’ / Intervista con BOB MARLEY in occasione dei suoi 73 anni

Oggi avrebbe compiuto 73 anni. (Nine Mile, 6 febbraio 1945 – Miami, 11 maggio 1981).

Robert Nesta Marley, per tutto il Mondo noto come Bob, non è solo il pioniere del reggae che resterà 36enne per sempre o il jamaicano rasta più famoso del Globo che aveva per padre un soldato inglese che abbandonò lui e sua mamma sull’Isola. Il rivoluzionario Bob e’ molto di più. E’ la fonte inesauribile di ispirazione per generazioni e generazioni di tutto il Mondo. Se ci avviciniamo ad un nostro genitore canticchiando “One Love, one Earth” loro risponderanno in maniera automatica “Let’s get together and feel all right”, così come se lo facessimo con i nostri figli.

Un’icona planetaria capace di essere compreso da tutti grazie al linguaggio universale che utilizzava : quello dell’amore. Insegnava al prossimo ad amare, indistintamente. A prescindere dal colore della pelle o dallo status sociale. Un’utopista, un lottatore, una guida spirituale. Amante dei diritti umani avrebbe dato la sua vita in difesa degli stessi. Per lui la musica non costituiva un business o un mero intrattenimento, ma una risposta al Sistema consumistico. Il denaro era un mezzo che rendeva schiavi gli esseri umani. Mentre diffondere il messaggio di Jah Rastafari, diffondere amore, pace, unità era la sua missione esistenziale. Ci invitava ad unirci nel nome del bene, dell’antirazzismo, a guardare oltre ogni singolo pregiudizio. Questa notte finalmente l’ho conosciuto nei miei sogni ed ho visto avversarsi il mio più grande desiderio : intervistare proprio lui, Bob Marley in persona. Finanche l’istituzione giornalistica inglese del reggae David Rodigan scrive nella sua biografia ‘My life in reggae’ che fu uno choc, ovviamente positivo, conoscere improvvisamente il suo idolo Bob Marley a Londra ed ancora di più ritrovarsi ad intervistarlo e a lanciare casualmente una sua nuova canzone in esclusiva mondiale su Radio Capital. Un impatto ingestibile per la propria emotività, ma che riuscì a superare grazie all’intraprendenza. ‘Ram Jam’ Rodigan racconta che in quell’occasione era nervoso ed impacciato, proprio come un fan dinnanzi al suo beniamino, mentre Bob dal canto suo gli rispondeva in patois giamaicano con la tranquillità e la pace interiore che lo contraddistinguevano. Nel mio sogno lo stato d’animo era lo stesso del Sir “Gentleman RudeBoy”.

Dopo un concerto di Damian Marley, il più giovane dei suoi eredi, scendevo nel camerino convinta di intervistare Jr Gong, ma con immenso stupore trovavo di fronte a me proprio il grande precursore. Illuminato dalla luce foca di una lampada e seduto su una grande poltrona mi diceva “What’s up Lady?” facendomi segno con la mano di avvicinarmi. Io ancora incredula e con le gambe che tremavano all’impazzata mi avvicinavo alla ‘divinità’ con il registratore e la cartellina, sentendomi inadeguata e ridicola con quelli oggetti tra le mani. Mi accomodavo su una poltroncina al suo fianco e ci scambiavamo un sorriso per rompere il ghiaccio. Non avevo nemmeno le domande pronte, ne’ uno schema dell’intervista ed ero fortemente imbarazzata. Dove erano gli altri musicisti, il manager, i promoters ed il video maker per riprendere ? Tutti spariti. Ero in un’altra dimensione ? Non lo sapevo più a questo punto ma il microfono Zoom era l’unico supporto che avevo a disposizione in quel momento per registrare questa testimonianza irripetibile. Premetti il tasto play, con i brividi che mi percorrevano il corpo. Poi con un filo di voce balbettante, improvvisai la prima domanda.

Hmmm… Parli sempre di amore nelle tue canzoni. Come dobbiamo imparare ad approcciarci a questa forza superiore senza lasciarci sopraffare a volte dai sentimenti negativi?

“Si sbaglia sempre. Si sbaglia per rabbia, per amore, per gelosia. Si sbaglia per imparare. Imparare a non ripetere certi errori. Si sbaglia per poter chiedere scusa, per poter ammettere di aver sbagliato. Si sbaglia per crescere e maturare. Si sbaglia perché non si e’ perfetti”.

Ed e’ sbagliato credere nei nostri sogni con tutte le nostre forze, anche quando sembrano più grandi di noi o irrealizzabili ?

“Chi ha paura di sognare e’ destinato a morire”

Tu sei un grande sognatore e perciò rimani immortale nella memoria di tutti noi e delle generazioni a seguire. Il Mondo di oggi si e’ trasformato in un impero del male. Da utopista quale sei quando pensi che finirà la guerra?

“Fino a quando il colore della pelle sarà più importante del colore degli occhi ci sarà sempre guerra”.

Le discriminazioni razziali continuano tutt’oggi. Come si può combattere questo fenomeno che affligge l’umanità ?

“Ricorda. Meglio morire combattendo per la libertà che morire da schiavi. Emancipate voi stessi dalla schiavitù mentale”.

Come ?

“Alla fine è semplice : il bene, il male, la lotta di chi soffre, la paura di chi e’ solo come un cane per strada. La vita e’ un gioco d’azzardo. Se perdi aspetta con calma la tua occasione, ma non smarrire la bussola. E soprattutto non farti corrompere.”

Cosa pensi della politica ? Tutti corrotti ?

La politica non mi interessa, e’ affare del demonio. I politici giocano con la testa delle persone.

La musica invece e’ tutto il contrario…

La musica e’ bella perché anche quando ti colpisce non senti dolore. La mia musica vivrà in eterno. Forse e’ stupido dirlo ma quando sono sicuro del fatto mio, lo dico. Vivrá per sempre.

Se non fossi stato un cantante in che ruolo ti saresti visto…

In quello di un calciatore o di un rivoluzionario.

Ma tu sei già un rivoluzionario, un’icona, una legenda. Non ti rendi conto che rivoluzione hai creato con la musica reggae? Influenzi la vita di milioni di persone ogni singolo giorno.

La musica reggae e’ una forma di lotta e lo diventerà sempre di più. Ti chiedo solo di non cercare di capirla in qualche giorno, in qualche mese, in qualche anno. Lascia che cresca dentro di te lentamente come un bambino. O come una pianta nella profondità della terra.

Perché una pianta come la marijuana terapeutica e’ considerata come qualcosa di illegale oggi e gli psicofarmaci delle case farmaceutiche che spingono le persone al suicidio no?

L’erba e’ illegale? Ma se e’ un dono della natura… Quindi volete dirmi che anche Dio e’ illegale? Non tacciatemi come anti-sistemico. Non sono io ad essere contro il Sistema, ma e’ il Sistema che e’ contro di me.

Eugenia Conti