'Toots' Hibbert to try the untried

Friday November 2, 2012

GREAT BARRINGTON --Fifty years into his career, Frederick "Toots" Hibbert is still exploring different ways of making music.

"We've done all sorts of things," he told an interviewer last year. "But we've never tried this sort of thing. I've never tried it before."

"This sort of thing" is a purely acoustic concert, in this case slated for Sunday night at 7 at Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center.

Hibbert, 67, is touring with his band in support of his latest album, "Unplugged on Strawberry Hill," a collection of acoustic versions of some of his best-known songs.

Those songs would include "Pressure Drop," "Monkey Man," "Sweet and Dandy" and "Do the Reggae." The latter song is widely credited with coining the word reggae and, essentially, naming the musical genre by which Hibbert and other Jamaican greats including Bob Marley, Jimmy Cliff and Peter Tosh are known.

The album is so named because Hibbert recorded it at Strawberry Hills Studios overlooking Kingston, Jamaica.

Although the songs have been a little stripped down, Hibbert said in a September interview that the process of recording them has not changed.

"It's the same way of working," he said. "We always make sure that everything is delivered in the proper way. The music has to be good."

"Unplugged" is Hibbert's fifth live album and the first to be completely acoustic. It marks the staggering 50th album of his long career

This is a big year for Toots Hibbert and the nation of Jamaica. In 1962, Hibbert first began his recording career, releasing "Never Grow Old: Presenting the Maytals." That was 50 albums ago. It was also the year his native country won independence from England.

In observance of his 50 years of contributions to the music and culture of Jamaica, Toots Hibbert was awarded the distinguished Order of Jamaica on Oct. 16. A number of other distinguished Jamaicans, in cluding doctors, politicians, entertainers and educators have been presented with the award over the past decade.

"It's a great day for me and my family," he told the Daily Gleaner of Jamaica in an interview following the ceremony. "I never expiated any of this."

Toots and the Maytals won a Grammy in 2004 for Best Reggae album.

The show at the Mahaiwe is part of a 20-city tour on which Hibbert and his band are embarking. The tour began in Ridgefield, Conn. earlier this month. The Mahaiwe will be the fifth show of the tour.

Other members of the band include his son, Hoppeton Hibbert on bass, drummer Paul Douglas, backing vocalists Chantelle Ernandez, Elenore Walters and special guest Anders Osborne.

Osborne will open the shows and sit in with Hibbert and the Maytals in the main event.

Who: Toots and the Maytals; special guest Anders Osborne

When: Sunday 7 p.m.

Where: Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center, 14 Castle St., Great Barrington

Tickets: $46 ($1 donated to the Toots Foundation); $41 (members)

How: (413) 528-0100;
www.mahaiwe.org; at the box office


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