Live in concert - GREGORY ISAACS


February 21, 2002|By RICHARD MONTENEGRO, Staff Writer

BRAWLEY - The Cool Ruler." "Mr. Love." "Dancehall Don." Simply Gregory Isaacs.

On Friday and Saturday, Jamaican reggae star Gregory Isaacs, singer of the hit "Night Nurse," will perform at Brawley Family Billiards with opening acts Uproot of Yuma and DJ Supamario, who recently spun at the Bob Marley Festival in San Diego.

Brought to the Valley by Red Eye Productions and Dawghouse Music in Brawley, Isaacs will make his first appearance in the Imperial Valley.

On a West Coast tour stop in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Isaacs said about performing in Brawley, "I feel very great about it. … It's a pleasure for me."

He acknowledged bringing live reggae music to a largely Hispanic area is a way of diversifying the local cultural offerings.

Isaacs added, "I'm very excited and anxious for (the performance)."

Said Dawghouse co-owner Dora Fernandez: "This is just the beginning. If this turns out good, we'll bring other artists down."


Fernandez added securing Isaacs was difficult and her partner in the production, Red Eye owner Arliene Bryant of San Diego, worked hard to make it happen.

Bryant said artists of Isaacs caliber are expensive to bring in for concerts, adding locals should support such top-quality entertainers by attending the shows.

Friday's show will kick off at 9 p.m. for those 21 and older. The Saturday performance — from 1 to 6 p.m. — is an all-ages event. There also will be Kenwood product raffles Saturday.

Sponsors for the event include Southern Building & Concrete, Mando's Stereo, R&C Diesel and Coca-Cola Bottling Co.

Fernandez expects a healthy crowd to turn out, but she warned any type of violence will not be tolerated.

"We're not going to put up with any violence. If we see it, they're out the door; no refunds," she said, adding 10 to 12 security guards will be on site.

With more than 500 songs recorded and more than 70 albums pressed, Isaacs remains at the top of the reggae game with a style some describe as "lover's rock."

Of Isaacs, the New York Times writes: "For all his confidence, Mr. Isaacs often plays a wonderful figure. His vocal signature, a kind of creaking groan, can signify the pain of racial discrimination and slum violence as well as that of fickle lovers.

"And his lustful songs are not simple seductions or sexual boasts but sensuous daydreams, escapes from tribulations that invite the listener along," the Times writes.

Born in Kingston, Jamaica, in 1951, Isaacs burst on the musical landscape in the early '70s, working with a number of producers and competing in local Jamaican talent shows.

Putting out his first recordings on the Success label, he soon after started recording songs on his own record label, African Museum, under which he released the album "Mr. Isaacs" in Canada.

Through the '70s, Isaacs recorded hits such as "Number One" and "Border" on producer Alvin Ranglin's GG's label. He also worked with noted producers and musicians Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare.

By 1980, Isaacs was becoming a household name in reggae, signing with Virgin Records' Frontline label while still recording on African Museum.

It was during this period Isaacs released the album and single "Night Nurse," arguably Isaacs' most famous track.

Isaacs has continued to record and tour over the years. His last full-length, all-original material release was 1999's "Turn Down the Lights" on Artists Only Records. He worked with noted reggae producer Lloyd "King Jammys" on the record.

Tickets to both Isaacs shows are $25 and can be purchased at Dawghouse Music in Brawley, Brawley Family Billiards or Mando's Stereo in El Centro.

Fernandez added Gregory Isaacs T-shirts will be on sale at $18 a pop and other memorabilia will be available at the show.

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