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Culture comes to town Sunday

Ryan Slabaugh

But the real question is, does it have anything to do with reggae?

Step outside the dictionary and into 8150 in Vail Sunday night and see for yourself. Culture will be onstage, flipping fans on their head with uplifting and “conscious” beats that have adorned 24 albums over the last 30 years.

Culture and lead singer Joseph Hill released “Payday” and “Humble African” in 2000. They have been on the accompanying international tour ever since. Along the way, their shows mix religious visions, messag- driven music and stark descriptions of politicians. They celebrate life in the song “Do something for yourself” with lyrics like: /Rise up and work/ Rise up and do something for yourselves/ Roast two dumpling, it’s for yourselves/



Then, they turn on society itself. Culture has followed the path of socially conscious reggae the way groups like Shaggy have gone toward the Top 40. In Culture’s song “Election,” Hill sings: And it seem to me that the rich man tax write-off/And the poor man haffe pay that.

During their tenure among reggae’s elite, Culture helped define the roots genre with albums like the classics “Two Sevens Clash” and “Nuff Crisis.” Backed by the Forces of Justice, the vocals of the 52-year-old Hill can sound sweet, all the while scratching at the wealthy and the powerful. The melodies of Albert Walker and Telford Nelson help steer the sound of Culture away from convention and into quick changes, spirited lyrics and the critic’s hands.



For example, James Lien of CMJ New Music Report described the following moment in “Dog Eat Dub,” a truly Culture-al track.

“Where Joseph Hill hits a note,” Lien commented, “the repeat button on the echoplex kicks into infinite and suddenly, in true dub style, Joseph’s vocals are seemingly beamed into space, to be picked up by satellite dishes on alien worlds, spreading the reggae vibe to all points through the vastness of the universe.”

Milo Miles, for The New York Times, named Culture a “the leading exponent of “conscious reggae.'” Culture’s been a fixture on reggae shows, from the Vermont Reggae Festival to the Sierra Leone Peace Concert. Now, finally, Culture comes to Vail.



For more information, call 8150 at 479-0607.


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