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Reggae pioneers Toots and the Maytals come to Bates

Toots and the Maytals, the pioneering reggae band known for the dance-floor classic “Pressure Drop,” come to Bates College for a benefit concert at 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 6, in the Gray Athletic Building, 130 Central Avenue. Sharing the bill is the eclectic, free-wheeling jazz trio The Slip.

Admission to the concert is $17, with proceeds to benefit the Maine Coalition for Food Security and two local nonprofit organizations, PreventionWorks and the Downtown Neighborhood Association. Advance tickets are available at Bull Moose Music locations throughout Maine and New Hampshire.

With more than four decades in music, Jamaican singer Fredrick “Toots” Hibbert came up in the same Kingston scene that produced Bob Marley, Desmond Dekker and Peter Tosh. He and two other singers formed the Maytals in 1962, and by 1968 Hibbert had parlayed the Maytals’ ska credentials into prominence in the emerging reggae style (in fact, their single “Do the Reggay” made the first published use of the term). Bringing American gospel and soul influences to reggae’s limber, propulsive rhythms, Hibbert positioned the group for international success.

The breakthrough came with the Maytals’ contributions (“Pressure Drop,” “Sweet and Dandy”) to the soundtrack for The Harder They Come, the Jimmy Cliff film that put reggae into the musical mainstream. Cementing their success was “Funky Kingston,” the single best Maytals album and their first for a major label, Island.

Hibbert disbanded the Maytals in 1981, going on to make another classic recording, Toots in Memphis. He reformed the band in the early 1990s and has toured more or less nonstop since, bringing to new generations his winning combination of killer rhythms, heartfelt vocals and the soul flavors of the American South.

Founded in Providence and now based in Boston, The Slip — brothers Brad and Andrew Barr, who play guitar and percussion respectively, and bassist Marc Friedman — have made a career of avoiding musical labels. What they have not avoided is adventure, leaping fearlessly into eclectic improvisional flights that have won them a reputation for spontaneity and a mysterious musical telepathy. They have recorded four albums (the latest, Angels Come on Time, is on Rykodisc) and have played the Newport Jazz Festival, the Berkshire Mountain Music Festival, and smaller venues in 43 states, Canada and Japan.

For more information about this concert, please call 207-786-6305.



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