Macka B: The PC RASTA

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In which HENRY SHIRES “checks fi” International Reggae Superstar MACKA B at the Prince Bandroom. And enjoys a Vegan Rastafarian Feast.

SCENE 1: The night before the big gig. MAMA BLU’S – a reincarnated Jamaican flavoured local identity eaterie – now re-housed on Ormond Road in Elwood a few doors from the Elwood Lounge.

Twelve or perhaps nearer twenty-four “apostles” of one of Britain’s all-time great Reggae and “toasting” (basically Reggae’s version of wrapping) stars, Macka B (just “Mack” to his friends) are about to enjoy an amazing three-course meat and dairy free feast. The healthy highlights of which are the most moreish /Moorish pumpkin dip you will ever experience. And vegetable shish kebabs slathered with satay source.

Washed down with the obligatory Jamaican alcoholic beverage, bottles of ice-cold Red Stripe beers. Which I am not certain are vegan, or not?

Suddenly silence and a band – quite literally The Roots Ragga Band – of big, bad, black-clad, jet-lagged (they just came from a gig in Sydney the night before and the UK just before that), dread-locked Rastas come shuffling in. Lead by one of the tallest (6 ft 3 ins), most distinguished (waist-length locks, more-salt-than-pepper beard, born Wolverhampton UK 1966), most revered Reggae artists still working in the business, Macka B.

Now I will spare you the minutia of the rest of this fantastic fan fest feast with the exception of this observation.

Firstly, sitting as we all were, at one long trestle with Mr B and the band at one end. And Mack and the boys holding court and every now and then being regularly visited by earnest acolytes – myself included – from the rest of the table.

It so much reminded me of The Last Supper. Only luckily on this occasion without any apparent Judas.

And this potential deification of the artist formally known as Christopher MacFarlane is not too far-fetched, as Macka B is no empty-headed pop or hip-hop puppet simply singing the praises of hedonism and Capitalism.

MB is a rapping Rasta with ideals and a mission. In 1990 he was one of the only two reggae acts to play at the Polish “Solidarity” concert. He is a practising Rastafarian and long-time vegan, quick to encourage all aspects of healthy living in his lyrics including veganism and alcoholic abstinence. Or at least moderation.

And toasts, in no uncertain terms, against sexism and misogyny. In a musical genre not renowned for its feminism or political correctness.

SCENE 2: The next night. Standing/skanking (dancing) up at the front of the stage at the Prince Bandroom, I am back in my London late 70’s heydays. Wreathed in ganga smoke (not on this occasion, unfortunately – though a huge advocate of the marijuana – “Legalise the Herb / Medical Marijuana Card”, Mac is not, literally, in your face about smoking it) of UK first wave of great homegrown Reggae acts. Steel Pulse, Aswad, Misty In Roots. Often on the same Anti-Nazi League bills as such politically motivated bands and The Clash and the Tom Robinson Band (“Sing If You’re Glad To Be Gay”).

Meanwhile, Mac is elegantly traversing the front of the stage, like a surprisingly light-footed Jah Rastafarian giraffe, as he extolls in heavy base driven rhyme the virtues of:

Abstinence: “Don’t Drink Too Much”

Vegetarianism: “Too Much Chicken”/ “Cucumba” / “Health Is Wealth”

Feminism politically correct: “Respect the Woman” (“The woman is the mother of civilisation, the backbone of every nation. She’s more than a sex machine, the woman is a human being”).

For all the “roots music” loving world like the unique and beautifully inspiring, politically correct, Vegan Rastaman that he is.

Henry Shires would like to thank Stick Mareebo of Stick Mareebo Productions (stickmareebo.com.au) who organised both of the above unique events. ONE LOVE!

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