One love: Left, Koewyn “Culture” Smith, Larry “Cocky”Steede in the background on keyboard and right, Gary Macpherson on lead guitar. *Photo by Sarah lagan
One love: Left, Koewyn “Culture” Smith, Larry “Cocky”Steede in the background on keyboard and right, Gary Macpherson on lead guitar. *Photo by Sarah lagan
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Members of some of the island’s most well-respected reggae bands including Ital Foundation, Jahstice and Dread Information have joined together to form Conscious Bermuda. The eight-piece band is working on releasing an album this summer and are playing at Saturday’s Amnesty International Birthday Bash. They sat down with the Bermuda Sun’s Sarah Lagan to share a taste of the new sound and a message of unity.

Their message to the youth of Bermuda is “no bother make no war”. Their message to Bermuda is “unification not segregation”.

The island’s newest reggae band Conscious Bermuda are on a mission to right some of the wrongs in society that have resulted in the violence and unrest plaguing our community.

It seems fitting that one of the first gigs for the band in its current form should be at the Amnesty International’s 50th Anniversary Bash — an event that fights for human rights in an effort to make the world a better place. It takes place this Saturday at Kaleidoscope.

The eight-piece band was born out of the original set up, Conscious, formed in 1993 by Alfie “One Love” Fubler (rhythm guitar and vocals) and Mark “Phil” Albuoy (bass). The other members of the band are established artists who have come together from various prominent local reggae set ups including Ital Foundation, Jahstice and Dread Information.

“I like to put it this way,” says Alfie. “This is the new beginning — Conscious Bermuda is the new beginning. You look in this room and there is well over 200 years of musical experience in here and it comes from all backgrounds.”

The band comprising the founders along with Larry “Cocky” Steede on keyboard, Bigga Dread (vocals), Koewyn “Culture” Smith (vocals) and Wilfred “Jammy Jam” Furbert has officially been in effect since February last year. They have played at the Moonlight Movie Series, Concert in the Park and the Hamilton Princess but only recently did the final line- up emerge.

Bigga Dread, formerly of Ital Foundation and Bigga Dread and Shorta Ranks, was involved in reuniting the band and one day paid a rare visit to singer Chris “Flookie” Flook’s house. There he found Chris and his music pal, guitarist Gary Macpherson and his two wishes were granted at once.

While the original Conscious band already has a large backlog of original tunes, Conscious Bermuda are reworking them to give them a fresh edge. They are also creating completely new material and working on putting out an album this summer. Their first gig as a full band was at the Agricultural Show in April and they plan on performing regular gigs throughout the summer including a possible repeat slot at Snorkel Park. A first Snorkel Park gig is confirmed for this Sunday at 4pm. They will also play some covers from artists including Bob Marley, Luciano, Tarrus Riley and Beres Hammond.

Bigga’s hope for the reformation of the band was: “to get the message to the people, through any means, to bring back love, respect and the real things that are valuable.

“We sing for those people who can’t speak up. It’s not political — it is truthful. We burn out anything that is corruptible, guns, drugs, violence”

Chris sang in Europe with well-known reggae singer Adam “Mango Seed” Mayo and then released an album in Jamaica. He returned to Bermuda and got involved with a music collective called Flightline set up by Gary Macpherson.

“Me and Gary were getting frustrated with the way society was moving and losing touch with humanity. Then Bigga shows up and everyone is talking about the same message.

“It’s about getting back to the roots of humanity, being people again and being conscious with the music.

“We went along to meet the band and when I saw the talent in the room I felt like back in school — I was like ‘wow!’”

One of the keys to healing society, according to keyboardist Larry, formerly of Ital Foundation, is to tap in to its younger members.

He explained: “Hopefully the young kids will say ‘I like that  — I could probably do that’. The older ones are going to be harder to reach — you might get one of those souls. We plan to incorporate some of them and have kids in our show. I have a grandson who plays drums.”

The music of Conscious Bermuda is accessible to all according to guitarist Gary. “We are not talking about drugs or money or girls, just conscious songs in good taste. It’s a good opportunity to reach everybody.”