From left: Griot Music CEO, Seretse Small, addresses the Global Battle of the Bands Jamaica-leg winners, as judge Mikey Bennett applauds the Dubtonic Kru of Deleon 'Jubba' White, Omar 'Jalanzo' Johnson, Luke Dixon, Strickland Stone and Horace 'Kamau' Morgan last Saturday afternoon. - Photo by Mel Cooke

Mel Cooke, Gleaner Writer

For a few minutes at Redbones Blues Café, New Kingston, on Saturday afternoon, it seemed that Dubtonic Kru would not get to play.

There were problems getting power to the keyboard, an indispensable instrument in providing the other worldly wounds crucial to dub music. Dubtonic, performing fifth in a field of 10 bands competing in the Scotiabank-sponsored Jamaica leg of Global Battle of the Bands, was actually given a minute more to get going and cables were juggled around even more frantically, to no avail.

Then Ibo Cooper, who along with Mikey Bennett, Jon Baker and Ray Hitchins formed the adjudication panel, conferred with MC up to that point, Wayne Armond (he would later hand over to Tommy Ricketts). Armond announced, to applause, that the judges had decided to be lenient and give the bands more time.

It had been a logistical feat, up to that point and afterwards, to move quickly through the numerous band changes and for each to deliver original material within the allotted eight minutes.

Standing out

Ironically, when Dubtonic finally got going, they were the only band that did not have any vocals at all in a song, going strictly dubwise for their first track and even a part of the next before the vocals of World Crisis hit.

The pressure on the band to step up to the plate promptly would have been increased by Mojahrock, which eventually came second, performing just before Dubtonic and turning in a scintillating set, complete with a very expressive Germaine Blake on vocals and Maurice Gordon's guitar solos.

The judges accounted for 80 per cent of the final decision and the paying members of the audience - sparse, save for persons connected with the competing bands - the other 20 per cent. However, in giving the judges' report, Bennett said that it was near unanimous from audience and panel that Dubtonic was the winner.

"When good musicians play together you always get good music. When good musicians who have been playing together for a long time play you get magic," Bennett said. And it was obvious that Dubtonic had been playing together for some time.

Mystickal Revolution's lead singer Sanjay Barrett was singled out for is exceptional vocals and Mojahrock deemed "exciting, raw talent".

The final top-six placings were Dubtonic, Mojahrock, Errol Bonnick and Irie Connections, Stone Dub (the three-person unit and the smallest band of the day in number of musicians), Mack4band and Blu Grass in the Sky. Also competing were Dre and KJ and the FMG Band, Farin Xchange from St Mary, Mystickal Revolution and Eclectic.

Seretse Small of Griot Music, which organised the competition, last staged in Jamaica in 2005, said that the first time Global Battle of the Bands was held in Jamaica, some said he would not get three entrants. Referring to the church and hotel circuits, Small said, "I knew there were hundreds of bands around that needed an outlet."

"This is possible because 2005 happened on the backs of many people who gave of themselves," Small said, thanking those who contributed then, as well as those who have supported the 2010 staging, especially main sponsor Scotiabank.

And he reiterated his commitment to live music as: "a real expression of our people that is live and organic. There is nothing like when we Jamaican people get together and express ourselves live."

Source: The Jamaica Gleaner (Dated: Monday, December 13, 2010)