Written by Scott Brown
Gentleman and the Far East Band
I’ve been attending the “Tribute to the Reggae Legends Festival” in San Diego for fifteen straight years; it’s an amazing event organized by Makeda Dread each year, and it attracts amazing reggae acts from all over the globe. There are so many things to love about the festival (formerly called the “Bob Marley Festival” for about 15 or 20 years previously) – one of them is the rotating, circular stage. Sometimes an act will literally be playing themselves off, while the stage rotates to reveal the next act – which is heaven for any concert lover (how many shows have you attended, where it literally takes an hour or longer for the next band to get their act together and actually start playing music??). The acoustics make a big difference too, since you don’t have to deal with the sound blasting and echoing off the back wall, causing mass confusion.
While attending one of these amazing festivals (always held on President’s Day in February, here in San Diego), I noticed an interesting act on the schedule – Gentleman and the Far East Band. I knew they were from Germany, and that’s about all I knew about them. Not only did they dominate that festival, but they truly lifted my spirits and inspired me. I loved everything about their sound; the musicians were just brilliant, the backup singers were gorgeous and had voices like angels, and the man himself – “Gentleman” had this amazing charisma about him. His tone was perfect, the harmonies were tight, the snare was popping and the keyboards, bass and lead guitar rounded out each song nicely. I was completely and utterly hooked.
As soon as I went home, I looked online for any concert DVD’s that they might have produced – and I found one that was only available on German eBay. The title of that DVD is “Gentleman and the Far East Band Live – The Cologne Session 2003”, and it is still my favorite reggae (live) DVD I’ve ever owned (and I owe over fifty of them currently). The performances were spotless, and I started sharing his music with my friends and coworkers…and they were hooked as well!
The very next year, Gentleman returned to the Sports Arena in San Diego for the Tribute to the Reggae Legends festival, and Matisyahu was slated to play immediately after him. As Gentleman arrived (via the turning stage), I told the people sitting near me that they were “about to be completely blown away”. I can still vividly see over a thousand people (on the floor, near the stage) leaving to buy beers (in preparation for Matisyahu), only to come SPRINTING back as soon as Gentleman sang his first note. The show was captivating, and remains one of my favorite live performances ever. Gentleman has tons of music out there, and some of the tracks I listen to constantly are “Dem Gone”, “Rainy Days (Live)”, “Jah Jah Never Fail”, “Children of Tomorrow” and about a hundred more.
Every single person I’ve ever shared Gentleman’s music with has become an instant convert. I’m talking about people who listen to pop, country, you name it. There’s just something about really great music. Gentleman doesn’t typically tour in the US that much (mostly Germany and other parts of Europe), but when he does make it to the states….and IF he’s playing anywhere near you – I strongly urge you to see this musical genius. Gentleman is one of the many reasons why I fell so in love with sweet reggae music.
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