friends

Ringo Starr guest on the second R7 album

Lately, life has been a blur for singer/songwriter Ben Harper.

At 5 a.m. last Friday, Harper and the Relentless7 walked out of Jackson Browne’s Groove Masters recording studio in Santa Monica with a fully mixed new record. Without missing a beat, they completed their plans for the next national tour, which started Thursday in Illinois, brings them to Baltimore’s Pier Six Pavilion on Tuesday and continues through the summer.

It’s only been a year since Harper’s last release, “White Lies for Dark Times” — Harper’s first with the Relentless7 — but the square-jawed singer doesn’t take much downtime between albums. Since 2001, he has released six studio and two live records, and the new one, titled “Give ‘Til It’s Gone,” could surface later this year.

“Give ‘Til It’s Gone” might be Harper’s second album with the Relentless7, whom he recruited in 2008, but for Harper, it feels like the first.

“On the first record, we didn’t have any sights set on making a record,” Harper said. ” ‘White Lies for Dark Times’ ” made us a band. This is the first record we’ve made as a band, with a great deal of experience under our belt. I’m really confident about it.”

To give the songs on the new album a different texture, Harper and Co. all set up in one of Groove Masters’ big rooms and recorded most of the songs live. A few of them were knocked out on the first take, Harper said.

“It’s a band in a room playing for each other,” Harper said. “There are themes about love, life, loss, coming to grips with the way the world’s never going to be, and the way the world is.”

Harper is vague about how much of his songwriting is autobiographical and how much is fiction. He casually tosses out numbers like “40/60” or “30/70,” and even when pressed to explain them, dodges the question.

“It’s not up to me to tell you which one’s which,” he said. “Hopefully, it’s 30 percent me and 70 percent the listener.”

So far, Harper and the Relentless7 have only played a couple of the new songs live — “Rock ‘n’ Roll is Free” and “I Will Not Be Broken.” Harper likes to keep most of his new music close to the vest until the album is released. As the name implies, the album has a positive feel — more upbeat than his last one.

“It feels good,” he said.

Reggae Legend Marley’s Mother Dies…

Cedella Marley Booker, mother of late reggae icon Bob Marley, died Tuesday night at her South Florida home after a long illness. She was 81.

Booker was surrounded by loved ones inside her home and was said to be ”happy,” according to a report on CBS4.com.

Booker’s grandson, Ky-Mani Marley, an accomplished musician himself, told The Miami Herald she “has always been a very loving, caring and supporting person in my life. She was always there to help me — even when I didn’t ask for help, she knew I needed help. She had that instinct to know when things were wrong and had the courage to fix it.”

Marley said the family was fortunate to be by Booker’s side.

”We all live very close by, really just blocks away, so we were all in the vicinity,” he said.

And though Booker had been struggling recently, her death still came as somewhat of a shock, her grandson said.

”We knew she was sick, and she’d keep fighting and pulling through,” he said. “So it was expected but unexpected. It’s a great loss.”

Booker was best-known for her famous son, but she was also an author and musician. Her two books about Bob Marley — 1997’s Bob Marley: An Intimate Portrait by His Mother and Bob Marley, My Son in 2003 — offered glimpses into his personal life, shedding light on his relationships with his wife Rita and bandmates such as Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer.

Booker released two albums, Awake Zion in 1991 and the following year a collection of Caribbean folk songs for children called Smilin’ Island of Song.

She also frequently performed with Bob Marley’s sons Ky-Mani, Ziggy, Stephen, Damian and Julian. Although she didn’t perform at the family’s annual Caribbean Fest concert in Miami in early March, Ky-Mani Marley said she was still performing as recently as ”about a year ago” in Jamaica.

Family members are making arrangements for a memorial.

Source: BY MICHAEL HAMERSLY
mhamersly@MiamiHerald.com

Culver City Dub Collective: DOS album

Culver City Dub Collective
DOS
Dos, the debut full-length album from the Culver City Dub Collective, unites an all-star cast in a captivating blend of Jamaican roots reggae, Afro-Cuban rhythms and West Coast bossa beats. It’s an intoxicating breeze that rattles the brain in all the right places, a simmering soundtrack to a thousand road trips and hazy summer afternoons.

Released by Los Angeles-based Everloving Records (Cornelius, Metric, Inara George), Dos represents a truly “collective” approach to music making. The album features stunning appearances from such luminaries as Ben Harper, Jack Johnson, Money Mark, Studio One vocalist Winston Jarret, and Bedouin Soundclash singer Jay Malinowski. Despite the group’s amorphous nature, the Culver City Dub Collective (CCDC) is ultimately assembled, produced and creatively grounded by two individuals: drummer/songwriter Adam Topol and guitarist/engineer Franchot Tone.

Dos is an impeccable studio album that reflects the eclectic nature of the players. Joey Altruda’s upbeat remix of “The Cave” and the melodic reggae of “Lel’s Sweet Inspiration Dub” soon give way to the haunting “Waltz for Tomahawk,” an exploration of the Gil Evans big band sound. On “Eloise (Baghdad Remix),” Ben Harper’s snake charmer guitar coaxes the melody out of the sonic basket, while Jack Johnson contributes an infectious, radio-ready vocal take to “Crying Shame.” And “Big Long Gun,” featuring Winston Jarret, is just a curried-goat-and-Red-Stripe away from the dusty streets of Kingston.

“Adam Topol & Friends explore reggae, dub and more” (Everloving.com)