Reggae great Don Carlos to find Tel Aviv groove

Since first hitting the stage in the 1970s, the founder of beloved band Black Uhuru has brought a tireless, positive energy into performances around the world.

October 5, 2011 21:54
2 minute read.
Reggae great Don Carlos

Reggae great Don Carlos 311. (photo credit: Courtesy of Dariusz Adamek)

Tel Aviv is going to be transformed into a little Kingston, Jamaica, Thursday night when reggae great Don Carlos takes the stage at the Barby Club.

The 59-year-old singer, born Euvin Spencer, was a founding member of the band Black Uhuru and his sweet-sounding vocals have formed the foundation of a solid solo career over the last 30 years as one of old house reggae’s leading practitioners.

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“All I was surrounded with growing up in Kingston was music,” Carlos told The Jerusalem Post Tuesday from Rotterdam where he was performing with his longtime accompanying band Dub Vision.

“There might have been some other things you could do to get out of there, but for me, music was a passion.”

Carlos formed Black Uhuru with like-minded friends from the poor Waterhouse district of Kingston – Rudolph Dennis and Derrick “Duckie” Simpson.

But just when they were about to break out and make a name for themselves in the US with their 1977 debut Love Crisis, Carlos left the band to launch his solo career.

“I didn’t plan to leave, it just happened,” said Carlos, adding that he knew the band was on the way to stardom. “That was our aim, that was our intention, to spread the music to the world. I wasn’t surprised when they became popular.”

Carlos didn’t do badly himself either, becoming an in-demand performer during the dance-hall craze of the 1980s, working along with Gold, his backup vocalist and co-writer, and releasing albums like Harvest Time and Day to Day Living. At the end of the 1980s, though, he reunited with Dennis and Simpson for a successful Black Uhuru revival which saw them surpass their original popularity.

However Carlos’s involvement was, again, brief, and he’s been on his own ever since.

Thursday’s show will mark Carlos’s first time in Israel, and he said that Tel Aviv has garnered a reputation in the reggae world of being a mecca for the music.

He was also stoked to be visiting Jerusalem, with its spiritual and historical connections to his Rastafarian religion.

“I’m a full rasta, and I can’t wait to see Jerusalem,” he said. “Ya, man, it’s the source.”

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