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Page 6 DTH Omnibus
Thursday September 28, 1989'
IN! S TiA d IE
with David Isaacs
Sunday, Oct 1,10:30 p.m.
ighthawk recording artists
The Itals, backed by their
own Vital Band from Jamaica,
will make an appearance at the Cat's
Cradle on Sunday, Oct. 1: During
their national tour this autumn, the
band will be performing material from
their new nine-track Cool and Dread
: ' norniir I , ... l- . 41
Thrash acoustic' Berryhill an antifolk heroine
Tonight, 10:30 p.m.
Somewhere, beyond folk, beyond
rock, beyond punk, there is
antifolk. For us, that somewhere
will be Chapel Hill tonight as Cindy
Lee Berryhill brings her unique
"thrash acoustic" straight from the
Village to the Cat's Cradle.
Berryhill is described by Roiling
Stone as having "harsh vocal phras
ing that sounds more like a crow with
an attitude than a girl with an eye
on the charts." Nevertheless, her
second album, Naked Movie Star
(Rhino), is bringing her positive re
views and a growing audience. A new
The reunion of Lloyd Ricketts with
The Itals after a three-year separa
tion has now been firmly established.
Ricketts was the original third mem
ber of the Itals and sang on the group's
first four albums. David Isaacs, who
sang during Ricketts' absence, will
be the featured opener for the Cool
and Dread tour.
With Ziggy Marley's acceptance
and success in America, interest in
real-roots reggae is on the rise during
Rastafari call!' The Itals play the Cradle
video for her single "Indirectly Yours"
should also bring her more national
A native of the Turkey Capitol of
California (otherwise known as
Ramona, a suburb of San Diego),
Berryhill cites artists like Woody
Guthrie, Lou Reed and Johnny Rot
ten as her influences but says that
her music is hard to classify.
"I'm folk-influenced, but my in
fluences really come from the Par
tridge Family, from rock and pop.
But it's hard for me to think of my
music in terms of is it this or is it
that, 'cause I feel I kill it then. I just
like to think of myself as a writer,
using acoustic instruments to paint
the scenery," she said in an inter
view with L.A. Style.
Rasta resgae be
the post-Wailers era. The Itals have
been a consistently popular reggae
act since 1982, when they released
their first album on N ighthawk, Bru
tal Out Deh. The harmonious blend
of the voices of Keith Porter, Ronnie
Davis and Lloyd Ricketts was a per
fect example of the spirituality that
has made reggae such a big hit in
Early 1984 saw the release of the
second Itals album, Give Me Power,
which made it to No. 1 on the Col
lege Media Journal's reggae charts.
The J ah Children Band supported
them on this tour, which began with
a feature concert at the Montreal
In 1986 The Itals released their
Her roots are in the surf and punk
communities of Southern California.
Berryhill started out in San Diego as
a teenage vaudeville performer and
later migrated to Hollywood, started
a punk-rock band called the Stoopuds
and studied acting at the Lee Stas
berg Institute, but gradually, she fo
cused on her solo singing career.
In 1987, while still in Los Ange
les, she recorded her debut Who's
Gonna Save the World on the Rhino
label. The album received positive
reviews from the likes of BiUboard
Magazine, the L.A. Times and the
Boston Globe. Berryhill was praised
for her fresh lyrics and her unusual
style, which, according to the L.A.
Times, resembled "Patti Smith meets
Olive Oyl and they get together jn
Joni Mitchell's bedroom to write songs
for Bob Dylan."
After going on the road with Billy
Bragg, The Smithereens, and Marti
Jones and Don Dixon, Berryhill went
to New York City to record Naked
third album, Rasta Philosophy, with
David Isaacs temporarily standing in
for Lloyd Ricketts. Rasta Philosophy
was one of the final nominees for
reggae album of the year in the 1986
Grammy Awards. Although The Itals
did not win the award, the nomina
tion exposed them to a wider audi
ence through the national coverage
of the event.
Their from-the-heart lyrics include
smatterings of Jamaican speech, which
originted from the languages of ex
iled Africans. Because Rastafarians
perceive the word 'me' as an expres
sion of subservience, they substitute
the 'I-word,' an expression of the
individualism that characterizes them
and the unity they see among them
selves. The word 'ital' means pure
and healthy: natural, unprocessed and
Lead singer Keith Porter, who is
based in the countryside of Jamaica's
Westmoreland parish, has said, "...we
really not like the environment of
the city. We like to live in the coun
try and come into the city and do my
work and go back. You get more bet
ter food fe eat out there, you know.
More fresher food and fresh air and
t'ing like that."
Porter, Davis and Ricketts first
formed The Itals in 1976. Their first
release, In A Dis A Time, reached
No. 1 on Jamaica's charts. In 1981, a
spot in the Jamaica Sunsplash Festi
val gave them the exposure they
needed, and resulted in their signing
with U.S.-based N ighthawk Records.
On their first U.S. tour in 1983,
the group proved that their sound
was not merely a studio creation.
Their album performance is surpassed
in the excitement of their live per
formances. The Cool and Dread tour
will be the group's fourth North
American tour. In previous tours, The
Itals have been supported by their
Movie Star, again on the Rhino la
bel, which was released this spring.
It was a striking departure from her
debut, and displayed a sophistication
absent from the acoustic antifolk that
made the first album popular.
Berryhill experimented with a
variety of styles on this album, rang
ing from a Springsteen-like "Old
Trombone Routine" to what the
'Harsh vocal phrasing that
sounds more like a crow with
an attitude than a girl with
an eye on the charts1
L.A.Times described as a "half-Rocky
Horror Picture Show, half-Ethel Mer
man" style on the satirical "Trump."
Another change from the first al
bum was Berryhill's choice of musi
cal accompaniment. On her debut,
she used only her own guitar, bassist
fine Jamaican bands such as the Roots
Radics and Jah Children.
The Vital Reggae Band has an
impressive background with excep
tional experience in reggae music.
Linford Anthony Allan, on bass gui
tar, has been playing professionally
for ten years, and played with the
group Umoja for four years. Charlton
Locksville Williams on guitar, began
playing in 1976, at the age of 17.
Williams played with a group called
Black Heat before joining Umoja.
Patrick Murray, keyboardist, was one
of the founding members of Umoja,
along with Allan and Williams.
Drummer Paul Nathaniel Francis has
backed many top Jamaican artists.
"Bongo Herman" Davis, on percus
sion, has been recording and perform
ing in Jamaica since the early '70s.
He has many releases under his own
name, in addition to his lengthy stu
David Isaacs began his professional
career as a vocalist with the Lynn
Taitt Band. He recorded for the
Merritone and Dynamic label in 1968
and has recorded well over 50 singles
under his own name.
Waygone Rex Wilson and drummer
Irene Liberatore to create that "thrash
acoustic" sound. In contrast, Naked
Movie Star features a three-piece jazz
bebop-bred rhythm section and drum
mer Debbie "Fluffy" Spinelli to flesh
out the many musical styles.
A factor in these style changes is
Berryhill's new producer, Lenny Kaye.
Kaye has also worked with Suzanne
Vega and Patti Smith and balances
Berryhill's poetic lyrics with an in
sistence on solid, if sparse,
accompaniment. Rolling Stone cred
its him with keeping the album away
from pretension by providing "a
streamlined yet muscular sensibility."
To promote the new album, Ber
ryhill is doing what she calls the
"backpack-and-guitar routine." She
is appearing in art galleries, book
stores and fashion boutiques (as well
as the more traditional places) to
promote Naked Movie Star. As she
put it, "I may do a tune, read a poem,
or kiss babies."