Pikkihead Band and international reggae vocalist Dubkor will showcase tracks from their latest album “Shackled & Chained” at Jamaican Vibes Saturday night.
Band: Pikkihead Band with special guest Dubkor
Date: Saturday, May 26. 9 p.m.
Venue: Jamaican Vibes, 3700 Government Blvd., 251-602-1973
Tickets: $20 (dinner included), available at Jamaican Vibes
While many will be flocking to the beach for Memorial Day, Jamaican Vibes will be providing tropical sounds for those spending the weekend inland. Mobile reggae group Pikkihead Band and international reggae vocalist Dubkor will showcase tracks from their latest album “Shackled & Chained.”
Pikkihead Band claims both Mobile and Jamaica as its base of operations. According to bassist/songwriter Steve “Goff” Andrews, Mobile has become almost a proving ground for new music from Pikkihead Band, and their upcoming performance will be no different. Lagniappe sat down with Andrews at Jamaican Vibes to give readers an introduction to Mobile’s only reggae band, which is something Andrews hopes will change.
Stephen Centanni: How did you end up in Mobile?
Steve “Goff” Andrews: (chuckling) By accident! I came to Mobile in 1989 for school. I’ve been planning to leave since then but have just never left. I hate moving, so I just have never left.
Centanni: I’ve always told people that you might as well just stay, because you’ll end up back here.
Andrews: Exactly, exactly!
Centanni: You know, I’ve been seeing some flyers for a couple of reggae events around here. What do you think about the local reggae scene or lack thereof?
Andrews: The current reggae scene is lacking, but I think the current reggae scene is right for a takeover. There is some reggae in the area, but it is sporadic. Everywhere I go, people are asking for reggae. People are getting more into reggae, but they want quality reggae. They don’t want something that sounds generic. They want quality music.
Centanni: What gave you the idea for the reggae jam and dinner?
Andrews: [Mobile] is a place that is a second home for us. In the past, when we have new music that we’ve worked on, we’ve played here in many different formats and played in several locations. We use it to experiment. So, it leads us back again, because we’re working on some really new music, and it’s the first time that we’re going to share it.
Centanni: How does it feel to bring this sound from Jamaica to somewhere so unfamiliar?
Andrews: It is always exciting. Even though we’re all immigrants, believe it or not, the music we are playing nowadays and will be playing at our show, that music was created locally, because we get together here locally from time to time and create our music.
Centanni: That plays into another one of my questions. What’s it like having members here in Mobile and the rest of the band in Jamaica?
Andrews: It’s challenging. It’s very challenging. It’s a large band, and it’s hard to move everybody. Sometimes, we have to move in smaller units, which is what we’re doing now, but distance creates a huge challenge. It’s our biggest challenge right now.
Centanni: Reggae has such a positive vibe to it that you can’t help but like it. What do you think it is about reggae that helps it maintain that vibe?
Andrews: If you look at where reggae is coming from, it is always the voice of the people. It will always be the voice of the people. In our culture, it’s not just music. It’s part of our daily bread. It educates us. It entertains us. It laments us. It makes a fool of us, and it celebrates us. So, it is part of all of what we’re doing in Jamaica. Reggae is every part of our living.
Centanni: Every reggae act from Toots Hibbert to Pato Banton has a message. What was would you that Pikkihead’s and Dubkor’s message is?
Andrews: We have more than one message, to be honest with you. Number one, there is substance. Our music is highly political, and it comes out in our music. We love for our music to stimulate thought on purpose. It’s our passion to create music. Honestly, I think reggae has failed a lot in our modern times, because we’ve gone away from creativity and become too commercial or too quick to put some stuff out there. We like to put thought behind our music. It’s not just entertainment. Some of it is educational. Some of it is spiritual. Some of it is just sharing our experiences with you. You put that in a substantial manner and put some entertainment music behind, and it’s a win-win.
Centanni: Tell me about “Shackled & Chained.” What was it like recording that one?
Andrews: It was magical. “Shackled & Chained,” the entire album, was recorded at Tuff Gong Studio, which is Bob Marley’s original studio. It was quite magical. Dubkor, who is our lead singer, he and I write most of the music. So this was a culmination of a lot of stuff and a lot of experiences that we’ve have had, good and bad, and the revelations that came to us, good and bad. Also, we have lived in different parts of the world, and we experience things. So, that’s just life experiences from all over culminating in one album.
So, it’s a lot of things. It’s not just one element. There’s so many things that have come together just for that. We have been through ups and downs in our personal lives and our love lives. Some of that comes out here. We have had spiritual vibes and internal conflicts and external conflicts. We’ve been through religious conflicts. So, a lot of that comes out in the music.
Centanni: So, with that said, what’s the songwriting process like? How does it start and where does it finish?
Andrews: I can’t tell you about Dubkor, but for myself, there’s no set pattern. There’s one song on here, “Zion Capacity.” The first two lines stayed in my head for two years. I’d go to work, and I’d go to sleep, and it would stay in my head. One day, I was beneath my car fixing something, and some dirt fell on me. The rest of the song just came to me like that. I’ve been at work, and a song came to me just like that.
I can’t tell you where the inspiration will come from. Sometimes, I’m just listening to the radio. There’s a song on here, “Somewhere Along the Way.” I was listening to public radio one day, and somebody said something and the line came to me. I can never predict where an inspiration will come from. It just comes sometimes, and I take it and try to make it personal.
I think when you try to make something personal, somebody can more identify with it. That’s the feedback I get from sharing music. We share more music than we sell. That’s just what we do. As a musician, you have to share. People say, “I can relate to this.” I’ve shared music with people from Africa, and they thought this was exactly what they were going through. It’s the same with people from Europe to India. It’s something about it. Sometimes, it’s not on purpose that it happens that way. It just happens that way.
Centanni: What can people expect from the evening?
Andrews: The people should expect, number one, original music. If they’re coming to party and look for old tunes, then they’ll be disappointed. This is going to be original music that was created here locally, and we want to share it here first, even before we take it back to our home. Some of it is different from what we usually make, because we’re working with a much smaller unit. However, with a smaller unit, we have injected more energy into the music. I think it might be somewhat explosive, but it will be entertaining.