Who: Easy Star All-Stars
When: Thursday, July 10, 9 p.m.
Most people associate reggae music with a tropical vacation,
Bob Marley, and blunts, but at least one voice in the industry says it’s much,
much more than that.
Michael Goldwasser is a producer, guitarist and arranger of the
albums for Easy Star All-Stars. He’s also the leader of the band that is coming
to Whistler to perform on Thursday, July 10.
Goldwasser founded the Easy Star label back in 1996 with three
good friends — Eric Smith, Lem Oppenheimer, and Remy Gerstein.
“All four of us were big reggae fans… and we were just
lamenting the dearth of good reggae coming out in the mid-90s,” Goldwasser
They wanted to find a way to combine the newer, popular
dancehall reggae with the traditional, live, Jamaican-sounding music.
“There was no one else doing it, so we figured, ‘well, let’s do
it ourselves,’” he said.
They ended up creating their own label, Easy Star Records,
which produces a mixture of modern roots productions, using living
instrumentation and vintage recording techniques, innovative dancehall rhythms
to keep things current, and reissues of rare recordings.
Easy Star started out recording 45’s — seven-inch singles
— eventually compiling them into an album and issuing CD compilations of
music from the ’70s and the ’80s.
But their initial vision didn’t take off.
“We were not selling a lot of CDs at all. Reggae is a niche
market, its relatively small… and now, its even worse because of the relative
ease of downloading music illegally,” Goldwasser explained. “But even back in
the mid-90s people were selling bootlegged CDs in the street in New York all
While they were well respected and well reviewed, their vision
just didn’t seem to be catching on.
“We had a lot of good fans, but not enough to really support a
record label,” Goldwasser added.
It wasn’t until 2003, after they did a cover of Pink Floyd’s
Side of the Moon
Side of the Moon
, that the label really
“The idea of taking a famous album, a rock album, and doing the
whole thing over in reggae, it really had never been done before,” said Goldwasser,
“People have been covering other forms of popular music ever since the
beginning of reggae, but to take an entire album and reinterpret it had never
really been done before, so we struck a chord with both reggae fans and Pink
Floyd fans and were able to capitalize on that.”