Island Head’s Mikey ‘Mao’ Chung Honored

The Jamaica Music Museum presented its 9th annual Grounation series themed “Blackhead Chineyman: The Chinese Jamaicans’ Contribution to Jamaican Popular Music”.  (according to the Jamaica Observer news)  Legendary Jamaican reggae musicians were honored including Island Head guitarist Mikey ‘Mao’ Chung.

Mikey has worked locally with artists like Dennis Brown, Marcia Griffiths, Bob Marley, John Holt, The Inner Circle, Alton Ellis, Ernie Smith, Ken Lazarus, Pluto, Delroy Wilson, Gregory Issacs, Home T, Pablo Moses, The Wailing Souls, The Abbyssinians, Lorna Bennet, Bunny Wailer, The Heptones, Black Uhuru, Ken Booth, Peter Tosh, I Jahman Levi, Boris Gardiner, Israel Vibration, The Gaylads, Buju Banton, Beenie Man, Ken Parker, Jacob Miller, Garnet Silk, Shaggy, Romain Virgo, Alaine, Morgan Heritage, Tessanne Chin (to name a few).

Mikey was a member of Word, Sound and Power recording and touring with the late Peter Tosh. He was also a member of Island Record’s Compass Point All Stars with Sly & Robbie and The Inner Circle.

Internationally, Mikey has worked with artists as diverse as Bette Midler, Mick Jagger, Manu Dibango, Marianne Faithful, James Brown, Joe Cocker, The Art Ensemble of Chicago, Big Mountain, Grace Jones, Maxi Priest, Michael Urbaniak, Bernard Lavillier, Bob Sinclair, Khaled, Chris Hinze, Valrie LaGrange, Tiken Jah Fakoly and Serge Gainsbourg among others.

SiriusXM Radio weighs in on Island Head reggae band

SiriusXM radio has been very kind to Island Head. Their reggae station, The Joint, was the first radio station in the world to play Island Head. Program Director Pat McKay, selected the song “So Much Trouble In The World” to be the unofficial single off the album “Punky Reggae Party”.

Pat McKay has very high praise for the band. She said; “Island Head is an important project to reggae. It’s always gr8 to have substantive, high art. This work contributes to reggae’s growth. Reminds others of what it really is and what is still possible. I feel so especially blessed to share this brilliant work with our audience.”

Dermot Hussey, the legendary radio personality, is also on The Joint reggae channel. Dermot said; “Island Head musicians, tastefully demonstrate that a fresh perspective can still be brought to Bob Marley music”.

Island Head are humbled and honored to have such luminaries of the reggae music world to offer such high praise.

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Review of Island Head Live at The Falcon!

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Billy Messinetti and Don Harris (together they produce and do arrangements for Island Head)
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Andy Bassford of Island Head
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Jeff Ganz of Island Head
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Don Harris of Island Head
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Timmy Cappello (sax player vocalist of Island Head)
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David Frank (madman on the B3) of Island Head
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David Frank, Dave O’Donnell (Punky Reggae Party mix engineer), Billy Messinetti

Thank you to all who came out to see Island Head at The Falcon!  What a fantastic night, so much fun!!  Special thanks to Island Head’s keyboard player, David Frank.  David flew in from LA to do this gig because he just loves playing the music with this group of amazing players.

The band opened the night with classic Jamaican instrumentals from the Studio One collection called “Tunnel One” by legendary reggae sax player, Tommy McCook and “Darker Shade of Black” by Soul Vendors. The latter is actually an excerpt from The Beatles song “Norwegian Wood”.

When Sax player/vocalist Timmy Cappello introduced the band’s version of “Baby I Need Your Loving” by The Four Tops he said; “We have such a symbiotic relationship with Jamaican reggae musicians and artists.  They write songs, we make them our own.  We write songs and they give that grace and that thrust with a whole new feel”.

One of the highlights of the band’s set was their version of “Freedom” by Richie Havens. The groove was kind of a Soca/Reggae thing which had the whole crowd on their feet.  Don and Timmy took advantage of their wireless clip-on microphones and were dancing with the audience and played amazing solos.

Keyboard player David Frank’s band, The System had a big hit called “Don’t Disturb This Groove”. Island Head did a version with a groove called “”Rockers” that was originated by the legendary drummer/bassist duo Sly & Robbie. “Rockers” is kind of a half-time feel with the bass drum playing quarter notes (4 on the floor).

Of course, the band played most of the songs from their album “Punky Reggae Party” that has been heard on reggae radio especially SiriusXM “The Joint” channel 42.  They closed the set with a furious version of Bob Marley’s “I Shot The Sheriff” that featured an energetic funky drum solo by Billy. The crowd would not let the band leave so quickly and demanded an encore.

The encores included the classic “House of The Rising Sun” done Island Head reggae style. The final song took the audience by surprise as the band ripped into a cool reggae version of “Kiss” by Prince. There was not one person left sitting!

Island Head electronic press kit

See Island Head’s EPK (electronic press kit) here: http://artistecard.com/islandhead

Like Island Head reggae band on Facebook: www.facebook.com/islandheadreggae

Hear Island Head on reggae radio stations around the world!

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Island Head Live at the Falcon

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Island Head Live at The Falcon

Island Head played to a packed SRO crowd at The Falcon in Marlboro, NY this past Saturday night. The band featured Timmy Cappello on sax and lead vocals, Andy Bassford as well as reggae legend Mikey ‘Mao’ Chung on guitars, bandleader Billy Messinetti on drums, Jeff Ganz on bass, James K. Smith on trumpet (subbing for Don Harris) and Mitch Margold on keyboards (subbing for David Frank).  Both James and Mitch have played with Island Head before so the reggae groove had the right pulse!

The band played their versions of classic Bob Marley songs as performed on their album “Punky Reggae Party” as heard on SiriusXM radio The Joint.   Other songs performed included “Baby I Need Your Loving” by The Four Tops, “I Shall Be Released” by Bob Dylan and the classic “House of The Rising Sun”.

They surprised the audience with two new songs to the set. “Take Me To The River” was done uptempo to almost a ska beat.  One of the most interesting arrangements was the band’s rendition of Richie Haven’s Woodstock classic “Freedom” to a soca-like groove. Timmy tore the house down with these two songs.  Whew!!

Check back here at IslandHeadReggae.com for information about getting a copy of the live recording of the show.

Punky Reggae Party album review

The reggae jamband Island Head, is getting a lot attention for their debut album “Punky Reggae Party”.  Bob Marley songs are re-worked into instrumentals that are destined to make these songs classics, again.

Track 1:  “I Shot The Sheriff” has a groove that crosses dancehall and rock with strong rock guitars and jazzy saxophone.  Sax player Tim Cappello, of Tina Turner fame, plays his butt off (plain and simple).  He has a fat tenor sound with tons of expression and excitement!

Track 2: “So Much Trouble In The World” takes the bass line from the original and pushes it further with a backbeat on the drums.  Bass player extraordinaire, Neil Jason pays tribute to the original bass player on the Survival album, Val Douglas.  Val, of the famous Skatalites, was scheduled to play on the album.  Due to his touring schedule with the Skatalites he could not make any of the band’s sessions.  When the track gets to Andy Bassford’s guitar solo the song is lifted to new heights.  Andy is well-known for playing with Toots & The Maytals for 23 years.

Track 3: The single, “Reggae Island” is a pop/top 40 sounding instrumental that just makes the listener feel good.  This is the only one not penned by Marley.

track 4: “Wake Up and Live”, also from Marley’s Survival album appears on the Island Head record.  This is where the band’s funk influence comes out.  Trumpet player Don Harris used to tour with Tower of Power and brought out some TOP in his arrangements.

Track 5: “Get Up Stand Up” sounds like Miles Davis got together with Bob Marley.  Harris’ muted trumpet is sultry, sexy and relaxing.  Miles would be proud because his influence is very apparent.

Track 6: The title track combines Jamaican Rocksteady with synth-dance music.  The synthesizer sounds played by one of the most famous synth players in the world, David Frank of The System.

Track 7: “Burnin’ and Lootin'” is the final track which is more traditional roots reggae.  The groove is deadly and “dirty funky”!  Andy Bassford does some finger-picking melodies in the second verse that are complex and interesting.  The track ends with Andy and Tim weaving in and out of each other’s licks.

Mickey “Mao” Chung, famous for his tenure with Peter Tosh of the Wailers plays incredible melodies throughout the entire album.  Mikey also played with Rolling Stones’ Keith Richards when Keith used to live in Jamaica.  Keith also mentions Mikey in his biography, “Life”.  Producer Billy Messinetti says; Mikey added a Jamaican authenticity to the album.  The combination of the guitar playing of Andy Bassford and Mikey ‘Mao’ Chung is one of the things that makes this album so interesting to listen to.  When Pat McKay, program director for SiriusXM’s reggae station The Joint, heard about this collaboration she said; I know both Andy and Mikey, they are geniuses!

You can find this very interesting musical hybrid here: Island Head on iTunes

Twitter page @Islandheadband is getting followers from all over the world.