Online Reggae Magazine

Articles

Articles about reggae music, reviews, interviews, reports and more...

Frankie Paul in San Leandro

Frankie Paul in San Leandro

Frankie Paul in San Leandro

By on - Photos by Lee Abel - Comment

No Worries in the Dance - Live at Sweet Fingers Restaurant in San Leandro.

Sampler

There’s always a party goin’ on when Frankie “Dancehall” Paul comes to town. This spring, Sweet Fingers restaurant in San Leandro, CA, proudly hosted reggae’s celebrated baritone, also known as the “Jamaican Stevie Wonder.”

Frankie Paul

Sweet Fingers is an award winning eatery and one of the last remaining Jamaican restaurants in the San Francisco Bay Area. Owned and operated by the colorful Chef Clive and his wife Roxanne Starr, Sweet Fingers is known for their finger licking jerk chicken and oxtails and other Jamaican delicacies. On March 16th, the kitchen was closed and the dining tables pushed back to accommodate a small dance floor. What was served that night was spiritual food, embodied in the music of the opening acts Sister Ione and Empress Irae Divine, and of course, the nights headliner, Frankie “Paul” Blake, backed by the Yellow Wall Dub Squad.

“Tonight, I’m gonna do so many classics, I don’t know where to start,” said Paul, in an interview in his dressing room before the show. 

The predominantly Caribbean-American audience welcomed Paul like an old friend. The tiny stage was so close to the dance floor that the singer and the band were literally enveloped in the crowd. A few female revelers felt free enough to caress Paul and rub their feet, legs, butts, and other body parts against him as he performed. One man walked up and slipped money into the singer’s hand. Yes, this was an audience hungry for good roots music, and Paul fed off of the energy of the crowd. 

Paul killed them softly with rhythm and melody, opening with a mash up of his hit “Worries in the Dance” and a reggae/dancehall version of the Carpenters’ seventies hit “Top of the World.” He segued into another of his hits, the pro-ganja “Pass the Ku Sheng Peng,” on the Beatles’ “Norwegian Wood” riddim. (The inspiration for the “Norwegian Wood” melody was said to have originally come from Ras Michael, but that’s a different dish.) 

Paul, who repatriated to Gambia, West Africa 16 years ago, treated the audience to a song that he learned in Wolof.

Frankie Paul“It’s been very sweet, very nice, there is no violence, no crime,” said Paul, on living in Gambia. “The people are friendly; they are so fragile. It’s very exciting.”

Paul performed more of his string of dancehall hits including the Jamaican proverb “Fire Deh a Mus Mus Tail (Him Think a Cool Breeze),” “Tidal Wave” and “Alesha,” a whimsical syncopated tale about a “hungry belly girl” who lived between Bedford and Flatbush, who had an erotic addiction to “French fry and hamburga.” Paul did bring a plus size woman on stage with him during the song, but whether she was the real and true “Alesha,” well, we’ll never know.

Known as a master cover artist, Paul added his special touch to R&B and pop hits such as Levert’s  “Cassanova,” Chaka Khan’s “Through the Fire,”  Major Harris’ “Love Won’t Let Me Wait,”  Starship’s “Sara,” and Billy Joel’s “Just the Way You Are.”

Paul performed one of his favorite songs, “My Cherie Amour,” an ode to Stevie Wonder, the artist that he is most compared to. Like Stevie Wonder, Paul is legally blind. In fact, Paul had the opportunity to sing for Wonder when he visited the school that he was attending.

Yes, as he promised, Paul performed at least a snippet of every hit from his extensive catalog, which includes more than 50 albums on various famed labels. Frankie Paul is definitely one of Jamaica’s most prolific artists. Asked what has kept him going all of these years, Paul humbly replied: “Blessings from the Most High.”

Gallery

Get the Flash Player to see this gallery.

Reproduction without permission of United Reggae and Lee Abel is prohibited.

Share it!

Send to Kindle
Create an alert

Post a comment

Identification

Optional, will not be displayed or used.
Your comment

Without html.

Recommended Articles

Interview: Protoje (2014)
By Angus Taylor

Latest articles

Wickie Wackie
By Steve James
Top Reggae Songs 2014
By Erik Magni
Sizzla Live in the City
By Steve James
Anthony B at File 7
By Franck Blanquin

Recently addedView all

Article
Wickie Wackie
20 Dec
Video
Maxi Priest - Holiday
19 Dec

© 2007-2014 United Reggae. All Rights Reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part is prohibited. Read about copyright

Terms of use | About us | Contact us | Authors | Newsletter | A-Z

Partners: Talawa | Jammin Reggae Archives | DAVIBE Jamaica | Reggaenet.pl | One One One Wear