Roots band headlines reggae jam
In this case, March is going out iron like a lion in Zion.
Lake Tahoe’s 2008 Spring Reggae Jam will usher in the final week of the month with reggae legends the Itals headlining a show with Southern California surf-rock-reggae band the B Foundation. Tickets for the show, at 9 p.m. Friday, March 21, at Whiskey Dick’s Saloon, are $16 in advance or $20 at the door
As a rock-steady touring presence, the Itals well might represent the iron. The vocal trio of Keith Porter, Kada Porter and David Isaacs emerged from Savana La Mar, Jamaica, in the 1980s.
Keith Porter recorded his first hit single, “Hitey Titey,” with the Westmorelites in 1967 and became lead singer for Soul Hermit two years later. Soul Hermit disbanded when Owen Sinclair put together a new band in 1971. Future Generation performed U.S. R&B along with native Jamaican songs all over Jamaica.
Porter was beginning to tire of the club scene around 1975, when he ran into fellow reggae musician Ronnie Davis in Kingston. Davis gave him a cassette with a rhythm he’d just had a hit on.
“I was so happy with that rhythm I didn’t look any further,” Porter said. “In less than a week I had written ‘Ina Disa Tim’e and came back to Kingston to record it for Lloyd Campbell’s SpiderMan label. Lloyd felt it needed some harmonies with my lead, so Ronnie and I both added harmony parts. There was no intention of forming a group called the Itals; the record first came out as Keith Porter. After the song was on its way to becoming a hit in Jamaica, we all went out to do some promotion. Lloyd, Ronnie, myself and Brian Thomas of RJR were sitting out back in the cantina, when Brian said ‘Why not call them the Itals?’ because now there was more than one person singing. Everyone liked that name. It sounded good, so all of a sudden, Itals was a group. It was never intentional. I’ve always wondered if the name was the result of Brian noticing how strict I was about the food I ate, strictly Ital.”
Campbell quickly re-pressed the record as “The Itals” to meet demand. The song remains the group’s signature tune, and Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones called it “the perfect reggae track.”
The group returned to the studio with the addition of Lloyd Ricketts singing a third harmony part on a series of SpiderMan recordings. The Itals twice were finalists in the Jamaica Festival Song Competition, and their 1981 tune “Jamaican Style,” earned them a place at Reggae Sunsplash that year. The Itals released their debut album, “Brutal Out Deh,” and toured the U.S. and Canada, then followed that with “Give Me Power.”
The Itals’ fourth recording, “Rasta Philosophy,” won a Grammy nomination for best reggae album in 1987, and the band continued touring throughout the U.S., Canada and Europe.
2008 Spring Reggae Jam
Who: the Itals with the B Foundation
Where: Whiskey Dick’s Saloon, 2660 Lake Tahoe Blvd.
When: 9 p.m. Friday, March 21
Tickets: $16 advance at Mad About Music, Tahoe Hemp Co., Whiskey Dick’s, or online at ticketsus.at/Tribune or http://www.ticketweb.com; $20 door