- Rising Lion
With the recent sweep of concert cancellations among Jamaican reggae performers (almost half the acts scheduled to play Cleveland in 2001 canceled), it's refreshing to have at least one out-of-town reggae outfit making an appearance.
And a good one at that.
Hailing from Brooklyn, New York, Rising Lion is composed of lead vocalist/guitarist Danny Dredd and an ever-revolving cast of backup singers and musicians. Regardless of Dredd's choice of sidekicks, though, Rising Lion remains true to playing traditional roots reggae music, with such notable influences as Bob Marley, Jacob Miller, and Steel Pulse's David Hinds sewn prominently on Mr. Dredd's sleeve. The band's latest effort, Don't Loose Yourself, released last fall, follows in much the same rootsy vein as its 1998 release, New Day. Rich harmonies, galvanizing lyrics, and inspired playing round out these recordings, which are marred only by the occasional slow ballad or weak cover tune. Sure, Country Joe McDonald's "Don't Bogart That Joint" may give the kids the opportunity to feel the Irie vibe in a live setting, but on Don't Loose Yourself, it only sounds shallow. On the plus side, the album does incorporate elements of funk, hip-hop, and R&B to good effect.
Now granted, all of this hardly qualifies Rising Lion as an innovative act. Like the caboose of a train, the band closely follows the path laid out for it by the pioneers of yesteryear. But while these players may not be completely original, they still manage to be a solid, convincing ensemble that gets a leg up on many of its more celebrated Jamaican peers, particularly live. How? By actually showing up.