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Interview: Dennis Alcapone and Winston Reedy

Interview: Dennis Alcapone and Winston Reedy

Interview: Dennis Alcapone and Winston Reedy

By on - Photos by Christian Bordey - Comment

"Jamaica celebrated 50 years of independence on 6th August which is my birthday!"

Sampler

Dennis Alcapone was one of the original microphone talkers to follow the great U-Roy and is one of the most prolific reggae recording artists of the 1970s. Winston Reedy was the singer for the Cimarons - England's first proper reggae band - and an exemplar of reggae's tradition of sweet voiced singers who took their cue from Curtis Mayfield. The two met back in 1973 when Alcapone first came to the UK and have become regular touring partners over the years - with Reedy singing the A sides to Dennis' many version hits. Angus Taylor grabbed an off the cuff chat with the duo backstage at One Love Festival 2012 - and found out that although they reside in London it is in France that both are making their latest moves...

Winston Reedy and Dennis Alcapone

Dennis and Winston you're back at One Love for the second year in a row - last year you even did some announcing as well as deejaying. Do you enjoy being here?

DENNIS: It's wonderful I'm looking forward to it. It was a nice crowd last year and we had good vibes and I'm looking forward to the same vibes this time around.

You also both performed at the Respect Jamaica 50 series of concerts as part of a deejay special alongside U Roy, Yellowman and Tappa Zukie. Tappa's back here at One Love. How was that?

DENNIS: That was wonderful. I would say a very boombastic experience. The experience of a lifetime to work on the same stage with my hero U Roy. And Yellowman and Tappa Zukie as well but we were around before them of course.

Back in the day they used to call me "the singer of many voices"

Winston, when you perform with Dennis you seem to adapt your voice to be any singer in reggae history - from a Pat Kelly to a Horace Andy. How come you are so versatile?

WINSTON: Well back in the day they used to call me "the singer of many voices" so I guess you just grow up and adjust yourself to the song. Those songs had great singers and I love to sing those kinds of songs.

Who are your personal favourite singers?

Winston ReedyWINSTON: Oh my! I've got so many! Otis Redding, Delroy Wilson, Bob Marley, Slim Smith. It's like a wide area of favourites. I don't have a particular favourite. I'm a lover of all kinds of singers.

Was the 50th anniversary of independence something you celebrated?

WINSTON: It's wonderful. I was down at Jamaica House at the O2 last night when the race was happening and it was a great night.

DENNIS: Yes it was something to celebrate. Because it was my birthday was well! Jamaica celebrated 50 years of independence on 6th August which is my birthday!

What did you do to mark the occasion?

DENNIS: I was working in Holland on my birthday along with the Mighty Diamonds and Pablo Moses. After I finished my show the Diamonds brought me back on stage and sang Happy Birthday to me. And the whole audience was singing Happy Birthday to Dennis Alcapone! It was brilliant.

Have you been watching the Olympics?

WINSTON: For sure I did. I was in France last week and I was lying in the hotel trying very hard not to drop asleep because I wanted to see the 200 metres - but I was so tired from the night before that I set my alarm on my mobile every ten minutes so I was able to catch it. It's been a great Olympics for England and Jamaica. I must say England really pulled it off. Everything ran smooth and they won a lot of medals which surprised a lot of people.

The fans make you who you are so it's great to meet the fans

Dennis, after your show at Indigo2 you took the time out to meet your fans and pose for photos with them at the bar. How important is it to stay close to your fans?

DENNIS: It's very, very important. The fans make you who you are so it's great to meet the fans. I love the fans and I know the fans love me so it's great that we have a good relationship.

Winston, you have your album Make A Change out in France with the French band Donkey Jaw Bone. Tell me how you and they crossed paths.

Dennis AlcaponeDENNIS: Ah you know about that!

WINSTON:  It's a great album. I was introduced to them by a brother Rico [Eric "Rico" Gaultier] from another band from France Faya Dub. He introduced me to them and they gave me some tracks saying "See what you can do. Write something" - and it turned out to be a great album. Everyone seemed to love that album.

There's a lot of roots, which is quite different from the kind of reggae you are performing today with Dennis, and again shows how versatile you are.

WINSTON:  Thank you very much. I have got a little bit of roots in me from back in the day when I used to sing with the Cimarons. When you had Hear Talk Of Inflation, Willin', Harder Than The Rock so I'm used to that sort of roots but it's years since I did anything like that! Some I'm really pleased with the outcome of the whole thing.

The Donkey Jaw Bone only use vintage equipment. Did you go to their analogue studio in Paris?

WINSTON: That's right. We recorded most of the tracks in there - about seven were already recorded and we did the rest live and direct.

I have got a little bit of roots in me from back in the day when I used to sing with the Cimarons

What do you think of the "no digital" policy?

WINSTON: It all depends on what you're making. If you're making roots music then  it's good to have a live drum and bass to give you that sound and that roots feel. You can use computers and do several things but if it's mainly roots it's better - it sounds better - with a live band.

Last year the BBC screened the 1973 Old Grey Whistle Test Edinburgh Festival concert where they had that big cage separating the audience from the stage. Winston, both Dennis and the Cimarons performed but you weren't there?

WINSTON: The funny thing is that was about the same I first met Dennis! I was supposed to do that show for the Old Grey Whistle Test but my Musicians Union card wasn't up to date so they had to use another singer. I was really upset about that but it was a great performance so I always remember that show.

I'm working with a very good band in France as well

Dennis, Winston's done his album with Donkey Jaw Bone - do you have any similar such projects in mind?

DENNIS: Yes, I'm working on some things which I'm going to put in the press soon. I'm working with a very good band in France as well [we are guessing this is Handcart band!] who are going to make over some rhythms and we are looking forward to a new project very soon.

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