Vail Valley music: Reggae artist Pato Banton answers 7
Vail, CO Colorado
VAIL, Colorado –When Patrick Murray was 8 years old he began performing at his stepfather’s gigs as a DJ. Since then, his career as a progressive Reggae singer and songwriter has blossomed and he is loved throughout the world. His unconventional performance style has endeared him to his fans, and new songs tackling world problems constantly update his world-peace message. But he’s not just focused on the world; many of his lyrics are about the human condition and what the individual can do. Murray, known as Pato Banton on stage, performs Sunday at Agave in Avon. He took the time to answer a few questions in advance of his show.
Vail Daily: What is the story behind your interesting name?
Pato Banton: I was about 8 years old when I moved to Birmingham and my stepfather was a DJ. He had a sound system. And at the age of 8 or 9 I started helping out and I used to work the door as a security guard. Because I was so small, they called me a Patoo, which is a small night owl in Jamaica. I guess because I was in England they just called me Pato. Then, for the last name Banton I went to London for my first record audition. At the audition I changed my name. And basically a Banton is like a heavyweight DJ, the best. At night I was heavy weight.
VD: Your sixth album “Universal Love” is noted as one of your most inspiring. Why do you think it received such positive reviews?
PB: It was at a certain stage of my maturity, it was also after a certain period of working with the same musicians. Also the songs on it were very perfect for the fans at that time. I guess for the fans, it was important. It has some really great tracks on it and for the fans, it had a great appeal.
VD: What was it like to work with Sting in 1996 on the reggae remix of “This Cowboy Song.”
PB: It was amazing, you know. He had already completed his video and when they sent him my version of the song he was so impressed with it he asked them to re-shoot the video and edit me into it. And then I had the great pleasure to work with him in Spain. He flew me on his private jet! It really was an awesome experience. He’s a great guy.
VD: Tell me about your experiences with Peter Gabriel’s organization WOMAD and the tour you took that allowed you to help disadvantaged children around the world.
PB: With Peter Gabriel, I was invited to play his birthday party but I think they had already made up their mind that they wanted me to be involved with the org. They offered me to do the tour, and during the tour they asked me to do music workshops in the different countries we traveled. We did a community center in the Canary Islands. I did a youth prison in Sicily. I did music workshops in South Africa. It was a very eye-opening experience for me, to not just go around the world playing concerts, but to also use my musical talent to help disadvantaged people and to have them experience the music.
VD: BBC awarded you the Lifetime Achievement Award for your dedication to changing the lives of inner city youth in your hometown of Birmingham. Tell me about that.
PB: I was very surprised to receive the award, I wasn’t expecting it. I didn’t even know I’d been nominated for it. When I got there, I realized I was at BBC studios. Then someone started talking about me and presented me with a beautiful award. … It left me feeling as though I’d achieved all of my dreams. And what I wanted to do now was to stop striving for my own goals and help other people achieve their own goals.
VD: Your performances are very different than what people would expect. What sets them apart?
PB: I think number one I have a great band, with a wide range of instrument players. Number two, we don’t have a fixed set. We have a lot of songs that we work on. When I walk on the stage, I really feel the kind of audience I’m working with and then the show goes along the lines of that audience. I also enjoy interacting with the crowd and getting them involved as much as possible. A lot of the time I invite the crowd outside to join me in a prayer circle and sometimes we have amazing experiences. Another thing I’ve heard that is very different about me is that I tend not to be that kind of artists that hides out behind the curtain beforehand. I am around the crowd, I am talking to people, I watch the opening band, I really enjoy it. And I guess my attitude is that instead of just going out to play to my fans, I get a great opportunity to go out there and make new friends.
VD: What can the patrons at Agave expect from your concert?
PB: They’ll be getting some tracks from my new album “Destination Paradise,” along with some of the classic songs that they request. They can expect an uplifting, positive, high-energy show, but most importantly they should expect the unexpected.
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