Reggae / World Beat

Neon Prophet

THE END RESULT of Jamie Cirrito's trip to Jamaica last summer could be Tucson's Neon Prophet playing reggae in Tokyo. The connection is convoluted, but it's there.

Band Photo When the singer and bassist was traveling around the island he happened to meet famed reggae producer Barry O'Hare (he's worked with Burning Spear, UB40 and Tony Rebel, among many, many others). O'Hare provided a link to Flynn & Flynn--an independent recording label owned by Jamaicans living in Hartford, Connecticut. The Flynns have ties to Japan, where Reggae music is about the hottest thing going.

Meanwhile, back in the Sonoran Desert, Cirrito talks about changes in the band.

"Rafael (Moreno) has gone on to bigger and better things," Cirrito says of the former Neon keyboardist. "He left the band on a positive note. He's continuing his studies in psychology.

"So we've got a new keyboardist, who is Keith Borders. He's played with One Blood and Zebbhi Niyah--he's got some reggae miles under his belt."

Cirrito and Borders and band mates David Dean (vocals, drums and rhythm guitar), Plato Jones (percussion), Xavier Marquez (lead guitar) and Carl Cherry (vocals, bass and drums) also have new management and a sound man to accompany them to all their gigs.

"Really, it's been a good year," Cirrito says. "We got management, sound and a CD on a label."

The CD is their first recording on compact disc. It's a self-titled compilation on Flynn & Flynn Records of their two tapes (the first was also eponymous and the second is called Running Out Of Time). It has "Thousand Miles Away," "Save The Planet," "Sí Señor," "Rub A Dub M.C.," "Dance With Me" and "Just Say Yes" (a song recorded for the TAMMIES '94 compilation album), among other Prophet favorites.

Cirrito says the band is saving the income from the three-month-old CD to reinvest in a new album.

"When the money is together, a new album will come. We don't have a date yet, but it's coming. We're writing new songs all the time. Slow but steady, we've got that Southwestern pace, which is good 'cause it works for us. Not that many bands can stand each other after ten years. It's been a frigging decade and that's really amazing."

Cirrito says there's no double-secret method to keep a group together for such a long time.

"We're just very separate, individual people that accept each other for who they are. Nobody needs to be something they're not. And we all respect each other musically. When somebody's incredible on their instrument, well, that's first and personality stuff is second or beyond."

The band plays five nights a week at clubs in town, with habitual weekend gigs at the Chicago Bar and a new regular Friday night at The Outback. Catch 'em before they leave the continent.
--Michael Metzger

One Blood

ROOTS REGGAE. THOSE two words are proudly used by lead singer and percussionist Ira Osbourne to describe his band's music.

"Some people play world beat, some play rock, some play funk and still they sound like reggae," the Jamaican-born Osbourne says. "You ever listen to Bob Marley? That's roots reggae. That's the natural roots reggae and that's what I play."

One Blood covers Marley, Gregory Issacs, Bunny Wailer and Third World in their shows, as well as working in the dozen original songs Osbourne wrote.

He says the group is recording an album but he isn't sure when it will be ready for release.

Other members of this six-year-old band are: Ozzie Ali on bass, Tony Davies on guitar, keyboardist Evan Osborne and drummer Owen Rose.

Together they have a dream they hope will come true through their music.

"We'd be on the road, have a couple of CDs out, making good money and everyone feel happy," Osbourne says.

The vision will become reality, he says, "because I'm not gonna give up."
--Michael Metzger


© 1995 Tucson Weekly