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The Advocate June 8th. 1995

Hartford's Top Reggae Band

By Jayne Keedle

Perhaps it was the sub-tropical heat. or perhaps I was feeling irie, whatever the reason, I found myself in the mood for reggae last Thursday, and in Hartford, I thought I knew exactly where to go. First I headed for the Russian Lady. Crucial Massive was playing on the roof and the beat pulled me pelvically to the club from three blocks away.

(The parking lot next door. hemmed in bv buildings, forms a natural amphitheater with fabulous acoustics. The distinctive reggae bass bounces off the walls. On a good day, you can hear it from the state Capitol.)

But a few steps away the rhvthm synched with that of Cool Runnings, playing inside at North Shore but loud enough for the music to filter out. I was tom. I ended up standing in the middle of a parking-lot equidistant to the two. just listening. After a series of funny looks from a hotdog vendor on the corner, I decided to head first to the rooftop.

Upstairs was an oddly mixed crowd of young coeds, grev-haired businesstypes and Rastafarians. Perhaps because of the band's One Love approach, everyone seemed to be getting along nicely. The group played reggae standards by Bob Marley and a few originals, one of which the lead singer said he hoped would become everyone's "anthem of love."

The lead singer, a cheerful, charismatic man, was the master of cool in a cap, shades and a brightly colored Jamaican T-shirt. Along with lilting vocals, he seemed to have perfected the deep throated "Ha-Ha" of the guy who used to sell 7-Up on TV. The fare was traditional reggae but there were a few surprises. The drummer, for instance, swapped the usual heavy-onpercussion style for a set of electric drums. And, for a change of pace, the keyboard player turned his instrument into a horn section. Overall it was tightly and enthusiastically played reggae that begged to take us back to Jamaica, "to de way tings used to be."

        Crowd woes for More !

Hartford's Meadows Music Theatre

Aug. 27,1997 for the Jimmy Buffett concert. Hartford Courant Rock Critic (By ROGER CATLIN)

We arrived three hours ahead of time to tailgate and take in the " Parrotheads," the shark-finned cars  and all of the super people that make Jimmy Buffett concerts so much fun. We arrived at the theater and found a beautiful promenade with vendors and an excellent reggae band Crucial Massive was performing Bob Marley classics. That was where the fun was. The Hartford reggae band Crucial Massive played inside the gates in the plaza from 6 to 6:30 p.m. and 7 to 7:45p.m. and had the thousands rocking with their original hits from their new CD. It was  a good gig for a band known for its weekly Friday night shows at the Roo Bar in Hartford, but which has opened for a lot of top reggae acts, including Yellowman, Third World, Jimmy Cliff and, in 1984, at the old Palace Theater in Waterbury for Rita Marley and the Wailers. Hartford's a great place for reggae, says lead guitarist Winston Fisher. "As you know, Hartford has the third largest concentration of West Indians in Nort h America."But reggae's appeal is more universal than that; it gets into all kinds of music, such as the Sqw Cat appearance on Sugar Ray's modern rock single "Fly." "It's everywhere,"says Fisher.As for Buffett, "I'm familiar with the hits," says Fisher, "It will be a privilege to see him."Crucial Massive, which also includes Mark Reld, Evan Mcidnley, Norman Crossdale and Wilson Smith, released a recent CD, "Reality Music."

 

Hartford Currant (By Helen Ubinas July 31, 1996)

The five members of the reggae band Crucial Massive were rehearsing this week in a small dim basement for their Thursday West Indian Festival Performance. "We want to address more of the Hartford audience",said Mark Reid , lead singer and leader of the band. The band will perform from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Thursday at the Main Market Street in downtown Hartford. On any given Thursday night , people can be seen swaying and dancing to the band's sultry, mellow sounds at The Russian Lady Café in downtown Hartford, where they play weekly.  The music the band plays addresses many social issues, like "Desperate Situation" a song that deals with unemployment and the need for collaboration between all people.  Reid, who writes the songs, said "highlighting and dealing with social issues is a major component of reggae music" . Even the band's name reflects this idea. Crucial Massive was derived by a founding member, who returned to Jamaica, to describe crucial lyrics for crucial times presented in a massive style.  "There's a lot of people jumping on the band wagon of reggae," Winston Fisher, rhythm guitarist and back-up vocalist said. "But reggae is the culture of Jamaica-- it is pure." "Compromising your music to make money is a risky thing," Fisher continued.   "It's best to address a certain audience and remain honest to yourself and your music."  But not compromising their musical values doesn't mean they don't have big plans. The band is currently working on two albums, one to be released late 1995 and the other in 1997. Contact us EMAIL