By Barb Brouwer
Music has the power to spark memories and change moods.
And if you’re feeling down, Jamaican reggae legends Third World banish the blues.
The group that will close the main stage on Saturday night of the 2019 Roots & Blues Festival, has been together for 45 years and hits like Now That We’ve Found Love and 96 Degrees In The Shade are reggae standards.
“Bob Marley and a whole lot of other first generation reggae artists have gone; there’s not a lot of them around,” says artistic director Peter North. “Third World is still here and they also have a pop sensibility, with rhythm and blues mixed in.”
Not only is Third World one of the longest-lived Reggae bands of all time, they are one of Jamaica’s most consistently popular crossover acts among international audiences.
Mixing in elements of R&B, funk, pop, rock and, later on, dancehall and rap, Third World’s style has been described as “reggae-fusion.”
It is a natural fusion for the band members who grew up in Jamaica and were familiar with the roots of reggae and ska, but were able to hear the music of great R&B artists like Chuck Berry and Fats Domino .
“We took roots reggae music and put branches on top of it,” says Third World bassist Richard Daley on the band’s Facebook page.
Third World was originally formed in 1973 and made its live debut at Jamaica’s 1973 independence celebration in the same year. They played in and around the Kingston club scene and on the hotel scene island wide, making a name for themselves as one of the few fully self-contained bands around.
Ready to take their place on the bigger world stage, the band travelled to England In 1975. It was a move that landed them a deal with a label that sent them out as the opening act for Bob Marley & the Wailers on their 1975 Work Tour.
The group’s commercial breakthrough album, 1978’s Journey to Addis, which featured a funky, disco-flavoured reggae cover of the O’Jays’ Now That We’ve Found Love. The song hit the Top Ten on the American R&B charts in 1979, as well as the British pop Top Ten, and the LP climbed into the R&B Top 20.
With 10 Grammy nominations and catalogue of charted hits spanning four decades, Third World accolades include, the 1986 United Nations Peace Medal, 1992 and 1996 Jamaica Music Industry Awards for Best Show Band, New York City Ambassador Award in November 2009 at Brooklyn Academy of Music (“BAM”), 2011 Excellence in Music at the Atlanta Caribbean Festival, numerous awards and accolades from Martin’s International Reggae and World Music Awards.
Third World joins an exceptional lineup that includes Jim Cuddy of Blue Rodeo, Valdy, The Harpoonist and the Axe Murderer, Ireland’s Dervish, arguably the hottest Celtic band in the world, Birds of Chicago, Sue Foley, Irish Mythen, Danny Michel, The Garafuna Collective, Mercy Funk, Tal National, Jack Semple, Tristan Le Govic, Early Spirit and so much more.
The 27th annual Roots & Blues Festival plays at the salmon Arm Fairgrounds from Aug. 15 to 18. For tickets and information on performers, camping and more, got to www.rootsandblues.ca.