If you’ve not had the luck to hear The Overtakers, you’ve got quite a few chances this week. The Jamaican roots trio is the real deal: Traditional, humble, captivating. Check them Wednesday night at the Grey Eagle, or Thursday, Friday and Saturday at LEAF in Black Mountain.
Their sound is uniquely their own: Called Mento, it’s the roots of reggae, a blend of African and Latin rhythms and Anglo folk songs.
From the Grey Eagle’s site: “Lead-singer and guitarist Ruben Brooks came of age amidst the storied Trenchtown scene that produced numerous reggae legends such as Bob Marley and Jimmy Cliff. (Ruben recalls fondly how Bob Marley would help him find the proper key for his voice to sing a song). Disillusioned by the highly competitive nature of the reggae record industry, Ruben made a choice early on to devote himself to the traditional, acoustic form of Jamaican music known as ‘mento’. He formed the Overtakers with his wife Ruth (maracas, vocals) and longtime friend Leroy Willliams (rhumba box, vocals).
For 20 years the Overtakers have made a humble living performing their special music for tourists and ’yardies’ (Jamaicans) in and around Negril. The Overtakers have an astounding repertoire of songs that ranges from traditional to spiritual to beautiful original compositions. To hear their music is to experience a rare cultural treasure.
In 2001, The Overtakers visited the U.S. for the first time, touring the East Coast as part of Donna the Buffalo’s Roots Tour’ They returned in 2007 and spent some time in Donna the Buffalo’s recording studio in Trumansburg, N.Y.. The results of that project, engineered and mixed by Donna the Buffalo’s Jeb Puryear, will be released on the Overtakers upcoming tour in April/May 2009. The tour is being organized by Hop High Productions, a non-profit organization devoted to the promotion of cultural and traditional music.”
They’ve been frequent collaborators with a number of Asheville bands, including Snake Oil Medicine Show, Larry Keel and Natural Bridge and Laura Reed and Deep Pocket. Wednesday’s Grey Eagle show will feature a set with local guest stars from Snake Oil…Bluegrasstafari!