Riding the Mishka wave into Vail | VailDaily.com

Riding the Mishka wave into Vail

Rob Tramazzo
Vail, CO Colorado
Special to the Daily

VAIL, Colorado ” Reggae music has adapted to its listeners over the years.

One of the biggest changes is the evolution of “dancehall,” which has faster beats, rougher lyrics and an electronic sound that is far removed from the original roots reggae of Bob Marley and Burning Spear.

Other roots artists have incorporated DJs and electronic dance beats into their music in an effort to appeal to the masses. The result of this change is that the original roots reggae sound of the singer/songwriter is a dying breed.

But the music of Mishka ” born Mishka Frith ” brings back that roots reggae sound. His soulful singing and slow, deep lyrics capture a familiar spirituality that warms the heart. His songs of ancestry, personal empowerment, unity, and peace and love remind us of the simple themes in life that bind us together. Add a smooth, almost hypnotic quality in the music and the Mishka experience will give you the feeling that you are relaxing on a beach watching waves crash amongst the shore.

Even better news is that Mishka will perform along with the Dirty Heads Friday night at the Sandbar in West Vail. Dick Dime, Sandbar’s manager and talent buyer, is excited about the double-bill lineup, he wrote in an e-mail.

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“The Dirty Heads/Mishka double bill is summer-time chill and now that spring is tempting our inspirations, this should be a beach/surf/reggae party unlike any,” he said.

‘Rhythm to your life’

Mishka’s laid-back style of music may come from his upbringing, growing up in Bermuda on a boat built by his parents.

“Living on the water, there is a constant rhythm to your life, constantly rocking and rolling, and bobbing up and down,” he said.

From Bermuda, Mishka would travel from place to place with his family for months on end, immersing himself in island culture and music at a very young age.

“The Caribbean is definitely saturated with reggae music: from the sea, to the sky, to the land, to everything … reggae music has a pulse,” he said.

Mishka has been working at music since 1992 and his most recent album took two years to debut. He does not seem fazed either by the continual effort or his increasing popularity.

“I would love the music to flourish and people to catch on to it so we can keep doing what we are doing. I love to write a lot of songs and I love to play music,” Mishka said.

‘The means to get the music out’

It is most likely this casual attitude about life and music that draws people to him. In 1999, Matthew McConaughey heard Mishka perform in Jamaica and enjoyed his music so much, he searched for him for four years until finally connecting and developing a relationship over the phone with him. Then, one day Mishka invited the famous actor down to Nevis, an island in the Caribbean, where he was living with his family. The 10-day visit ended with new record label, J.K. Living Records, started by McConaughey with Mishka as the very first artist.

“[Matt and I] get along real well,” Mishka said. “He is very encouraging about what I do. We got to know each other as friends first before we started working together on a professional level. It is a blessing to know someone like him who has the means to get the music out and really love it.”

The result of this collaboration is the album, “Above the Bones,” which debuted in February 2009 at No. 1 on the Billboard Reggae charts, a feat to which Mishka refers to as “kinda cool” in his modest way.

The album features the songs “Higher Heights,” “Long Road” and “Train Again” that roll over with lyrical truth and a soulful melody the way Bob Marley’s music does when hearing it for the first time. The music has a romantic and tranquil quality about it that crosses over to many audiences.

“It seems like I am able to connect to all the different crowds,” Mishka reflects. Songs such as “Peace and Love” and “Above the Bones” may have you humming in the shower many hours after you hear them.

Rob Tramazzo is the business manager for the Vail Daily. E-mail comments about this story to cschnell@vaildaily.com.

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