Words by Kelly Wassinger
Photos by Steven Philips

Toots and the Maytals made a much needed appearance at the Blockley on Friday, March 24th. The show was sold out and the place was packed to the max with people, both young and old.

Toubab Krewe, the openers for Toots and the Maytals, provided an energetic start to a very energy-filled evening. Toubab’s sound is a fusion of Malian music and Southern-American music styles. The group consists of a kora, a 21-string harp-lute, an instrument you don’t see often, as well as a karmelengoni, a 12-string harp-lute. In addition they also show case a unique instrument called a soku, which is a Malian fiddle. Justin Perkins plays the kora, karmelengoni, and electric guitar. Drew Heller plays electric guitar and soku with David Pranksy on electric bass guitar and Luke Quaranta on percussion.

The group is based out of Asheville, North Carolina and was formed in 2005. They have performed at music festivals throughout the US such as Bonnaroo, High Sierra, Rothbury, All Good, Bear Creek, and just recently at Jam Cruise. They have also performed and worked with musicians in West Africa. Their exotic yet American sound is one that is unique to the group alone, and their performances draw a mellow yet energetic vibe from the crowd. Check out TSI’s interview with Toubab last year.

Following Toubab Krewe, Toots and the Maytals entered the stage in high spirits, opening with “Pressure Drop”, one of the groups first big hits. They also performed “54-46” one of their more popular songs, widely covered by bands across the board, and known mostly by Sublime’s cover of the tune. The end of the show was just as the beginning as they played a crowd favorite, “Country Road” a John Denver original.

The band was formed in the early 1960’s in Jamaica when ska started to increase in popularity. Frederick “Toots” Hibbert is known for his soulful and energetic performances, and his gospel choir background is evident in his heartfelt crooning.

Toots and the Maytals have performed with an array of artists including: Willie Nelson, Trey Anastasio, The Roots, and Ben Harper. Their reggae style music has caught the attention of music lovers even outside of the reggae genre and artists of all genres cover their songs. They have been putting on shows on and off since the 1960’s and have just began their summer and spring shows. Expecting to do several shows in Colorado during April and a 3-week acoustic tour in Europe during May. In addition to a few shows and the acoustic tour, they are scheduled to play Hollywood Bowl on July 15th and Reggae on the River on July 22nd. They have made many festival appearances in the past, including last years, All Good Festival in West Virginia.

If you are a fan of reggae or just live, energetic, and soulful music in general, Toots and the Maytals are the group to see!