From: United Reggae
Article and Photos by Sista Irie
The singer from St Lucia played at the music and media Conference in March.
In true Texas style, Austin does everything LARGE. The self- acclaimed Music Capital of the World becomes an uncompromising reality every March during the South by Southwest (SXSW) Music and Media Conference. Officially, over 2000 bands showcase in 100 venues plus. In addition multitudes of free stages appear in retail stores, backyards, parks, street corners and just about any available open spot of land. Shows begin late morning and carry through most of the night. A tidal wave of music, all night parties, record label executives, and the fans and fury from the rich and famous to the completely unknown cover the streets in a five day alternate reality.
Amidst this sea of perfected musical chaos, Flamingo Cantina remains Austin’s home for reggae music. The Saturday night showcase was well worth hauling a heavy load of camera equipment and trekking a solid mile to experience a night of wicked reggae music. Every hour, reggae fans were blessed with driving homegrown riddims from various parts of the world including Texas, Spain, South Africa, St. Lucia and Jamaica. Reggae has truly reached a pinnacle of universal expertise. Top ranking reggae artists including writers, singers and players now spill over the boundaries of countries across the globe.
One of the night’s most remarkable performances came from Taj Weekes & Adowa. Hailing from the lush Caribbean island of St. Lucia, Taj and Adowa delivered an outstanding performance evidenced by the sea of fans held in a lyrical and musical trance. Taj Weekes is much more than a singer. Taj, in his humble unassuming manner, implored a universal consciousness while delivering a unique blend of bluesy reggae. He is a poet with rare vision, lacing songs with poignant moments partnered to catastrophic events. His writing eloquence reduces complex issues to simplistic evidence. Featuring many songs from his most recent cd, 'A Waterlogged Soul Kitchen', on Jatta Records, Taj stokes the intellectual furnace while providing a soothing medium to safely process thoughts into inspiration.
Taj and his band Adowa, in precious synchronicity reveal the painful need for humane action that comes with knowledge of child abuse, ravages of war, devastation of environment, and natural disasters. Taj reworks uncomfortable, difficult subjects into a palatable mix, resulting in a spiritually fueled sense of social responsibility. Recently, in a radio interview on Sista Irie’s Conscious Party, Taj responds to questions with thought provoking depth. It is no wonder Taj describes reggae as ‘listening music.’ His musical presentations are a compelling form of activism calling to those who have lost faith in the power of the music. His lyrics call to those who recognize the power is still within the people.
Janjaweed recalls the genocidal aggression in Darfur "imploring the skies for an answer, cause no one on earth would help, the soldiers stole their laughter, what a murderous hand..."
Before the War - "Before the war, I had a life, before the war, I had a wife..."
Rain Rain - so much pledged for a natural disaster- months later, where is help? "Love's gone dry after the rain is gone. So much concern, so little action"
Shadow of a Bird describes the feelings of a child born from rape. "my mother couldn't escape. I am like a shadow of a bird, seldom seen, seldom heard."
In addition to Taj’s musical aspirations, he founded the charity They Often Cry Outreach (TOCO) dedicated to improving the lives of underserved, orphaned children. He continually fights a crucial war for those reeling in life crisis including poverty, HIV/AIDS, diabetes and global warming. Some people talk the talk, others walk the walk. Not only is Taj Weekes an extremely talented performer, he lives and breathes a humble life while setting professional and personal standards that can easily inspire others to join in the war against greed, oppression and injustice.
For more information on TOCO go to http://theyoftencryoutreach.org.
Adowa is comprised of Valerie Kelley (vocals-Virginia), Adoni Xavier (guitar-Trinidad), John Hewitt (keyboards-Brooklyn/Barbados), Radss Desiree (bass-Dominica), Cornel Marshall (drums-Jamaica) and Delly Golding (percussion-Jamaica.