Canmore, Alberta Canada
by Drew Hoshkiw
While the Communitea Cafe may not ordinarily be a dancehall, that may change when Taj Weekes comes to town.
The Canmore venue hosts Weekes and his reggae-folk band Adowa on Friday (June 21) for a concert of Caribbean music. Doors open at 8 p.m. and tickets are $18.
Weekes spoke with the Outlook Friday (June 14), from Columbia, Missouri, about the upcoming show and tour of Western Canada.
“They must sprinkle some goodness in the water there, the people in Western Canada are incredibly nice to us,” he said. “I’ve come to realize in the wide open spaces, the nicer people are – so maybe that might just be it.
“We’ve gotten a booking agent exclusively for that part of Canada, so that we can come back and play every year.”
For the tour, Weekes will play a show each day for two weeks, throughout B.C., Alberta and Saskatchewan.
Though currently based in the U.S., Weekes was born and raised in St. Lucia.
“When I was young my dad would sing to us, and that was our entertainment in the nighttime, and then we sang in church and then we sang at the school,” he said, explaining his musical beginnings. “And then my three brothers and myself, we formed a band and we played at any available stage in St. Lucia, and that’s how we started off.
“We played whatever was playing on the radio, and then reggae music changed when the Rastafarian movement came in, and we began singing socially conscious music, and I’ve been doing that ever since.”
As St. Lucia is quite small, he said – 238 square miles and a population of 168,000 – Weekes needed to go elsewhere to further his musical career.
“We wanted to do music, and St. Lucia could not contain me, when I realized how big the rest of the world is – in high school I studied North America, with a concentration on Canada – and my mind was always on that.
“When I left St. Lucia, I moved to Canada and lived in Toronto for five years, and then I moved to New York, and then we spread out internationally.”
Since leaving St. Lucia, Weekes has founded an outreach program for underprivileged children in the Caribbean and often returns to support this effort. That charity, They Often Cry Outreach, can be found online at theyoftencryoutreach.org.
The music itself tends to be about their experiences and memories, he said.
“We sing about war, but then we also sing love songs, because at the end of the day people want to be entertained,” said Weekes. “And then we sing about people everywhere, because the matters of the world, we try to bring them all in.
“We’re going to give them a lively beat, it’s not a funeral, people are going to be dancing.”
Each member of the band comes from a different island, further adding to the diversity of the sound.
“Because of the different influences of the band, we have a unique sound,” he explained. “Everyone in the band is from a different Caribbean island — the bass player is from Dominica, the guitar player is from Trinidad, the keyboard player is from Grenada, the drummer is from Jamaica – so we stick to the roots of music, but we have all different influences, and though it’s entertainment, we still talk about life and how it was.”
As for the Communitea show, whether people choose to dance or not, is up to the individual, he said.
“The thing is, people take in music in different ways,” he explained. “I once did a show in Illinois in front of a lake and people didn’t get up and dance.
“I posted on my Facebook page that it was a wonderful show and ‘I don’t think we got through to the people, because they didn’t dance,’ and surprisingly I was slaughtered with responses from folks who said they were so into what was being said, that they were moving in their heads – that they didn’t move their feet, but they got the message. So whatever gets you, is alright with me.”
Visit www.tajweekes.com for more information.