Steel Pulse opens Schenectady Music Haven series on Sunday

Steel Pulse of England will open the Music Haven concert series on Sunday night in Schenectady's Central Park. (Patrick Niddrie)

Steel Pulse of England will open the Music Haven concert series on Sunday night in Schenectady's Central Park. (Patrick Niddrie)

The revolutionary band Steel Pulse, which will head to Schenectady on Sunday, seems a fitting choice to kick off the 2022 season of Music Haven. 

The Grammy Award-winning reggae group, which hails from England and is led by guitarist/vocalist David Hinds, rose to fame in the 1970s and became known for its socially conscious lyrics and irresistible rhythms.

Influenced by the legendary Bob Marley, Steel Pulse was formed at Handsworth Wood Boys School and the line-up included Hinds, Selwyn Brown, Basil Gabbidon, and Ronald McQueen, among others. They shared bills with punk rockers like The Clash and reggae/ska band The Specials, early on in their careers.

Over the years, the band’s roots reggae sound evolved with the addition of jazz and punk music. Its lyrics remained politically charged, especially with songs like “Ku Klux Klan.” Several of Steel Pulse’s albums were nominated for Grammy Awards, and its 1986 album “Babylon The Bandit” secured a win for Best Reggae Recording.

Starting in the mid-aughts the band took about a 15-year break from producing new music and returned in 2019 with “Mass Manipulation.” The album, which is the band’s 12th studio production, denounces human trafficking and police brutality among other human rights issues. The 17-track album also strips back the electronic elements heard in earlier songs.

“This album is more organic,” said lead vocalist and guitarist Hinds in an interview with Key West Florida Weekly. “We don’t stack the horns a million times, like we’d normally do, to the point where they started to sound synthetic. I also think the vocal delivery on this album has more energy, and the lyrics are more focused.”

On Sunday, Steel Pulse opens the Music Haven series, which returns in full force for the first time since the pandemic began.

“I really felt as though, with the theme of unifying and uplifting, that kicking off the series this summer with a reggae show was a good idea,” said Producing Artistic Director Mona Golub.

The band’s socially conscious messages also fit in with the series. 

“[Steel Pulse is] without a doubt a social justice forward group and that is certainly an element within the whole concept of traveling the world one concert at a time,” Golub said. “You get the music, you get the culture behind the music, the ideas, the dreams, the beliefs and I think that’s part of what makes our journeys in the park so special.”

Golub has seen the band perform in years past and even brought Steel Pulse to the Capital Region to perform in the concert series she produced in the 1990s and early 2000s at Lakehouse Theatre in Albany’s Washington Park.

“The fact that Steel Pulse has really dedicated themselves to bettering the world through their music means something and they bring that to life each time they perform,” Golub said.

Honduran-born Garifuna artist Aurelio will open the concert.

Throughout the summer, the series will feature a mix of national and international bands, including the Steep Canyon Rangers, DakhaBrakha, Frigg and Spanish Harlem Orchestra among others.

Since announcing the Music Haven line-up earlier this year, Golub said “We’ve gotten really excellent feedback from folks, not simply that we have a full season to present but I think they’ve realized very quickly that the caliber of the season is off the charts. We’ve never had as many Grammy-nominated, Grammy-winning, Blues award-winning . . . artists performing at Music Haven all within the scope of one season.”

Golub also thanked the 60-plus companies and organizations that sponsor the series and stepped up this year.

“I’m eternally grateful not just for the financial support, but for the faith they have in me to bring the community together in a positive way,” Golub said.

Music Haven shows start at 7 p.m. unless otherwise noted and will be held at The Agnes Macdonald Music Haven Stage in Central Park. Proctors is the rain site, though on the following dates shows will be held rain or shine in Central Park: July 10, July 23, July 28, August 4, August 13, August 20 and August 26-27. Refer to Music Haven’s contact line, 518-660-0675 or find Music Haven Concert Series on Facebook to confirm the location after 12 p.m. on show days.

Here’s the full schedule:
Sunday, July 10—Steel Pulse
Bonafide reggae revolutionaries whose legacy has always been to better mankind through music, Steel Pulse frames founder David Hind’s righteous vocals in big Caribbean beats. Special guests: Aurelio

Sunday, July 17—Nathan & the Zydeco Cha Chas
A Louisiana Music Hall of Famer at the top of his game, Nathan Williams squeezes out a Zydeco dance party from his accordion wherever he goes, bringing the spice and the spirit.
Special guests: The Brass Machine

Saturday, July 23—NipperFest (11 a.m. – 10 p.m.)
Celebrate the local 518 music scene on two stages with The Figgs, Sirsy, Super 400, Girl Blue, Erin Harkes, Sawyer Fredericks, Sydney Worthley, Reese Fulmer and more! Local food, local craft beer and local nonprofits round out this inaugural event.

Sunday, July 24—Sammy Miller & The Congregation
On a mission to share globally conscious, joyful jazz by honoring and progressing
America’s original musical art form, Miller and company are broadening its reach. Special guest: SUNY Schenectady School of Music Faculty Jazz Combo

Thursday, July 28—Blues BBQ featuring Shemekia Copeland (5-9:30 p.m.)
A powerhouse vocalist whose commanding stage presence and recordings have won worldwide acclaim, Copeland headlines this three-course banquet of the blues. Local ‘Blues Challenge’ heroes Mark & Jill and Matt Mirabile open on stage, as smokin’ BBQ comes off the grill.

Sunday, July 31—Lemon Bucket Orkestra
A groundbreaking, genre-bending phenomenon brimming with charisma and Balkan-Klezmer-Gypsy-Punk Party Band influences, Lemon Bucket Orkestra is utterly irresistible. Special guest: Golfstrom

Thursday, Aug. 4—DakhaBrakha
The ethereal and entrancing vocal roots music of Eastern Europe is airlifted into the 21st century by this impassioned and adventurous Ukrainian ‘ethno-chaos’ quartet.

Sunday, Aug. 7—Spanish Harlem Orchestra
From Puerto Rico via the barrios of NYC comes the three-time Grammy-winning salsa dura and Latin jazz of SHO. Special guest: Alex Torres Y Sus Amigos

Saturday, Aug. 13—Schenectady Symphony Orchestra
Under the baton of Artistic Director Glen Cortese, the SSO returns with “A Night at The Movies” selections from your favorite films, along with some other surprises. Special guest vocalist: Mia Scirocco

Sunday, Aug. 14—Steep Canyon Rangers
A Grammy-winning, Billboard chart-topping sextet that weds its distinctive bluegrass with elements of pop, country and folk-rock. Special guest: Nora Brown

Saturday, Aug. 20— “Summer of Soul”
*Mini-Fest at 5 p.m., Movie at dusk
Questlove’s multi-award-winning music documentary pays homage to the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival, capturing the explosion of Black music, art and pride that made history in Mount Morris Park that summer. The festivities begin with soul food, music, art and community.

Sunday, Aug. 21—Frigg
Fronted by four fiddles, this septet of virtuosos from Finland has carved themselves a top-notch in folk with their life-affirming, feel-good tunes and exquisite musicianship. Special guests: Alasdair Fraser and Natalie Haas

Friday and Saturday, Aug. 26–27—Will Kempe’s Players: “A Comedy of Errors”
Will Kempe’s Players offer up a classic Shakespeare comedy, filled with unexpected role reversals, mistaken identities and enough slapstick humor to entertain from beginning to end. Period music by Duo Marchand.

Categories: Life and Arts, Schenectady


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