Boris Gardiner has toured with Dobby Dobson and collaborated with Leighton “Pluto” Shervington on a few occasions. But never before last Saturday night in Toronto did the trio of outstanding Jamaican musicians share a concert stage.
Their historic meeting – dubbed the Men of Distinction in Concert – attracted hundreds of adoring fans to a local hotel’s ballroom.
“This is quite an honour for us,” Gardiner told Share at a reception last Thursday night at the Jamaican consulate. “We each have our own style and music. We are coming from way back, so it’s really nice to be together performing for the first time in the same room.”
Gardiner has been coming to Toronto since 1975 when he brought his band, The Boris Gardiner Happening.
“We played at some of the clubs in the city and I have enjoyed this town ever since,” said Gardiner, who still enjoys touring and performing. “I was last here in August and I look forward to coming and playing before audiences that are appreciative of my music.”
Gardiner, whose reggae album, Reggae Happening, was released 41 years ago, said the music scene has changed drastically since he began performing as a 17-year-old with Rhythm Aces.
“I am also a bass guitarist and when I look around, I notice musicians are no longer interested in playing an instrument,” said the 68-year-old artist whose 1986 single, I Want to Wake Up With You, made it to the top of the UK music chart. “They prefer to use the computer which, to me, is artificial because there is no human feeling or soul. It’s a new generation and things have changed.”
Gardiner attributes his musical talent and success to his 98-year-old mother and his late grandmother.
“My mom had a beautiful voice when she was younger and granny used to take me to church,” he said. “So it would be fitting to say that my passion for music came from them.”
On Heroes Day last October 17, the Jamaican government honoured Dobson with the Order of Distinction in the rank of Officer for his contribution to reggae music and representation of Jamaican culture.
“That was one of my proudest moments,” said the 69-year-old Dobson who started recording in the ska and rock-steady eras as a member of Chuck and Dobby and The Deltas.
He released his first song, Cry A Little Cry, while in high school and is credited with producing Barrington Levy’s first single, Fi Mi Black Girl.
Dobson migrated to the United States in 1972 and became a born-again Christian after his mother’s death 11 years ago.
Shervington began his musical journey in the early 1970s as a member of the Tomorrow Children show band. He moved to Miami in the early 1980s and continued recording, enjoying another big hit in 1982 with Your Honour which made it to the UK Top 20. Other hits include Dat and Ram Goat Liver.
Shervington, 61, is also a talented bass guitarist and recording engineer.
Jamaica’s consul general in Toronto, George Ramocan, laid out the red carpet for the legendary trio.
“They are symbolic of what Jamaica really is and what Jamaica represents in the world,” he said. “These are gentlemen that, as Jamaica approaches its 50th anniversary of independence, we cannot ignore. The Jamaica that we know today as a world brand is something that was created by people like these men of distinction.
“The government of Jamaica is proud that men like you have led the way for many other musicians and artists…You come from a stock that represents excellence…Where we have fallen short as a country is that we have not been able to sufficiently capitalize upon our music industry and quantify the true value of your work and that of our other highly talented artists.”
Rinkah Entertainment and FAM Records produced last Saturday’s historic show.
“The Greater Toronto Area attracts many performers and recording artists,” said Heather McCatty of the production group. “However, we do not often see events which cater to an audience that wants to have a special night out in an environment of elegance and entertainment where they can enjoy music that’s reminiscent of the past.
“These three gentlemen have been entertaining music lovers all over the world for many years and we felt that their fans in Canada deserved to see them on the same concert stage…
“These men have paved the way for many young artists and they continue to give the best of their talent. They are passing on the torch to younger talent and we wanted that intrinsic value to be the theme of the concert.”
Part of the proceeds from the concert will go to the Read Across Jamaica Foundation.
By RON FANFAIR