Dennis and Bob. Bob and Dennis. Two of Jamaican music’s finest and most beloved artistes. Legends both. Bob, the songwriter, international star and soul rebel supreme; Dennis, the voice, the Crown Prince, your favourite reggae singer’s favourite singer. I can’t imagine my life without them. And neither should you. And it’s February. And Dennis was born in February. And so was Bob….
Christmas is a week away and many of you are scrambling to finish your shopping. Me? I’m eating roasted nuts and sipping rum. My shopping is sorted and there’s not much left to do but wrap gifts, write the cards and put on the bows. Now, if you’ve got a drinker on your list or a rum enthusiast, this installment of my Holiday Gift Guide is for you.
First up, Blackwell Rum. Created by Chris Blackwell, founder of Island Records and Island Outpost among many other things, Blackwell Black Gold Rum is your typical Jamaican rum: full-bodied. A dark rum, I first sampled Blackwell Rum on my most recent trip to Jamaica. I spotted the bottle while sitting at Dougie’s Bar at Jake’s Hotel in Treasure Beach one evening and couldn’t pass up the opportunity to try something new. I’d heard good things about the rum and was not disappointed.
With its deep, dark, molasses-y look I did expect Blackwell Rum to be sweeter than it actually was. Don’t get me wrong, I did taste hints of molasses with the slightly bitter notes I associate with dark chocolate and coffee but it wasn’t cloying; the finish didn’t overstay its welcome and left me wanting more.
Blackwell Black Gold Rum goes for $29.95 at the LCBO and would make a fine tipple this holiday season. Check the following video courtesy the good people at largeup.com for more info on this fine rum:
First things first: I’ve been slipping. Really, really, slipping. I haven’t been around these parts much lately (life, I tell you, life), other than when I’m here sharing these Bass Kultcha videos–but even that is slipping as my “late-to-the-party-just-getting-around-to-posting-this-ness” can attest. Anyway, I’ll be back soon with my Holiday Gift Giving Guide (hint, there will be rum) and with a few cocktail suggestions too. Not to mention episode 9 of Bass Kultcha is coming up. Well, welcome back to me.
In the aftermath of the first Bass Kultcha event, we welcome Earl Grey, one of the guest selectors on that night. In this episode we discuss Earl’s upcoming projects, before settling in for an eclectic mix of classic dub, roots, dancehall and a few mashups and genre defying tracks for good measure.
Check out the latest episode of our show over at Studiofeed. This was a particularly high energy session with good vibes bubbling throughout the studio. Also, do you love independent music? Yeah, I know you do. That’s why you need to hit up supportindependentmusic.org and get involved.
Maybe it’s the Jamaican in me but I’m not the biggest calypso or soca fan; I’d be hard pressed to tell you the last time I made a point of listening to soca on my iPod for example. But there are certain calypsos or soca tunes that I just find irresistable–Lord Kitchener’s Sugar Bum comes to mind–and I take great joy in attending Caribbean weddings; once the DJ begins spinning the sweet, sweet soca it takes some doing to drag me from the dance floor.
So to celebrate Trinidad’s 50 years of independence I thought I ‘d bring out my dancing shoes and share not one, but two of my favorite soca tunes courtesy of David Rudder, one of the twin islands’ favourite sons. The tunes in question? Gotta be ‘High Mas‘ and ‘Trini To The Bone‘. Listen, if ‘High Mas‘ doesn’t make you raise your hand, and if ‘Trini To The Bone‘ doesn’t make you long for the comforts and joys of home, wherever that “home” may be, then I’m pretty sure you’re soulless.
Anyway, Happy Independence Day Trinidad & Tobago! I’m raising a glass of Angostura 1919 in your honour. Cheers.
Ask the average person if they know Freddie Scott’s music and your likely to be met with shrugs and blank stares. But trust me, everybody knows Freddie Scott. If you’ve ever drunkenly sung along with Biz Markie’s ‘Just A Friend‘ or if you’re a hip-hop head who swears that Ghostace Killah is the man, then you’ve probably nodded your head to ‘Save Me Dear‘; both of which sample ‘You Got What I Need’, as classic a slice of soul music as I’ve ever heard.
Anyway, it’s Sunday, it’s as hot as Hades and I recommend whipping up a refreshing cocktail to help make it through the day. A little Freddie Scott couldn’t hurt either.
What to say about Trelawny Gold Label Rum? Hmmm, let me see. Well, with everyone going through Olympic withdrawal, allow me to use track and field as a rum analog. Let’s say, in terms of quality, taste and profile (not to mention nationality) that Usain Bolt is analogous to Appleton Estate Extra 12. In that case Yohan Blake would be Appleton Estate V/X. Trelawny Gold Label? We’re talking Nesta Carter or Michael Frater.
Let me be clear here; this is no slight against the rum nor against the aforementioned sprinters–seasoned track and field watchers will recognize Frater and Carter as quality, serviceable sprinters, forming the backbone of say a world record-breaking relay team. Yet they are not the stars, they do not garner the laurels or the plaudits. Or the headlines.
Similarly, I don’t expect TGL to win any awards. I don’t expect it to highlight of anyone’s rum tasting. But, much like Appleton Special, it is a versatile rum that is perfect for punches or any rum based cocktail.
Speaking of which, I tend to consume cocktails far more frequently in the summer than I would come autumn or winter. And after bringing a bottle of TGL back with me from Jamaica I almost immediately set about whipping up libations. My current favourite? Well, I’ve been using rum in a twist on an Aperol Spritz. Here’s how it’s done:
1.5 oz rum (in this case Trelawny Gold Label)
1.5 oz Aperol
3 0z Prosecco
Orange Bitters (Angostura or Fee Brothers)
Fill a highball with ice, add rum, Aperol, Prosecco, and bitters. Stir. Feel free to garnish with a citrus wedge (I prefer orange, but have also used lemon). Et voila, a wonderfully refreshing and tasty cocktail. Feel free to whip one up and toast the Nesta Carter’s and Michael Frater’s of the world.
Several bottles I brought back from Jamaica.
Here’s the latest episode of Bass Kultcha via Studiofeed. urbansteve and I celebrate Jamaica’s 50 years of independence with a diverse musical mix representing a slice of past, present and future sounds of Jamaican culture. Peace. And love
As you can imagine, folks inhabiting my sphere are pretty excited today. There’s Jamaican Independence, Jamaican domination of the sprints; just all around reason for Jamaicans to puff out their chests a bit. Not that we usually need any help with that. So here, as further tribute to the land of my birth, are a couple of Heptones tunes that for me capture the mood, the hopes and dreams of Jamaicans worldwide. Plus, the legendary Leroy Sibbles‘ connections to Toronto run deep; for Jamaican-Canadians he is one of us.
…Happy 50th Birthday Jamaica. Land we love.
I recently spent 17 days in Jamaica. How was it you ask? Well, it was the perfect holiday. A little bit of this, a little bit of that. Spent some time with family and toured the island with friends. Hit beaches in Montego Bay, Negril and Port Antonio. Had fruit so fresh and so sweet that I’m not sure I can buy fruit from my grocer anymore. Ate more ackee & salt fish, breadfruit, festival and fried dumplings than necessary. Drank more beer in 17 days than I usually drink in a year (The LCBO needs to start stocking Red Stripe Light). Laughed so hard with my friends I thought my sides were going to split. Biked for the first time in over 15 years….and did so on a Blue Mountain bike tour. Splashed around in the YS Falls. Took the Appleton Estate Rum Tour. Twice. And brought back lots of rum. I can’t wait to tell you guys all about the rums so check back in soon. In the meantime, enjoy the following clip. Popcaan, the hottest artiste in Jamaica right now, has tune after tune that sticks to my ribs. I love how he rides a riddim. And I love his lyrics. Especially on this tune….
On my way home. Or back to Toronto. Whichever.
Yes folks, I’m still on the move. Wondering where I am? Well, I’ll let General Trees fill you in……
Jamaica, and my memories of Jamaica inspired the very first post on this blog. Well, I’m heading there once more and felt like sharing this (ch)tune with you all. Walk good people.
Chune! Yes, we’re back again….
Kevin Reigh and urbansteve return for the fourth episode of the Bass Kultcha show, on StudioFeed Radio. This episode is filled with a blend of dancehall, spacey dub, future bass, and “a few odds and ends”. Kicking the set off with the trippy Sun Araw and punctuating things with their agreed upon big tune of the mix by Up, Bustle and Out, The Bass Kultcha duo guide us through what is arguably their best episode yet. Oh ya, all this and a special reggae tinged tribute to their favourite Beastie, the late legendary MCA.
Check out this wicked cerebral and tripped out episode of Bass Kultcha in the video below, or download the free mp3 audio podcast from the SoundCloud player. Track list after the jump. Enjoy.…
I’m not a complicated man. I enjoy simple things. Simple things make me smile, allow me to forget the frustrations of the day, enable me to drag myself out of bed and head to work each and every morning. Simple things bring me pleasure.
And very few things bring me more pleasure than sipping rum.
People often ask me for rum recommendations or try to ascertain my favourite rum but to be honest I’m not sure if I could choose one. Having said that, I am a sucker for Appleton rums, and not out of patriotic or jingoistic fervor. No, I believe Appleton rums (and I’m talking VX, Reserve, 12 yr old and older here) are perfectly balanced; not too much heat, just enough bite and the right amount of smooth to ease it down the throat.
My current bottle of Appleton 12 yr old rum was a recent purchase; I’d gone a long time without tasting this rum and had almost forgotten how good it is. Now, this is not meant to be a rum review but I had forgotten how the mere sight of its rich bronze colour in a glass promises so much. I had forgotten that it is that rarest of items that makes good on its promises.
I am writing this at the end of another in a long line of spectacularly unspectacular days. This isn’t a lament, it’s merely an observation. As is my belief that Appleton 12 yr old rum is one of (my) life’s simple pleasures; the kind to put a bow on the most unspectacular of days. This is a rum drinkers rum. And I am nothing if not a rum drinker. A simple rum drinker.
A couple of nights back, after leaving a cozy cocktail soiree, a couple of friends and I strolled umbrella-less down the street as rain fell. My two companions chatted about the day’s work and fretted about the rain; I looked to the sky, searched for the moon and smiled as raindrops fell upon my face like freshly ground pepper.
I can do without mud but I’ve always loved rain; perhaps that’s one of the reasons I can’t imagine trading my urban life for a rural one. The concrete jungle threatens many things but it rarely threatens to muddy my shoes with impunity. Plus, there’s something about the sound of rain colliding with paved streets that tickles me.
Anyway, rain almost always reminds me of one of my favourite songs. This night was no different. And as David, Eddie, Melvin, Otis and Paul (better known as The Temptations) might say: I do wish it would rain.
Alright folks, it’s that time again. My man urbansteve and I are back with episode 3 of our Bass Kultcha program via Studiofeed radio, and this time around we’re bringing you a heavyweight clash of dancehall titans. In one corner, urban is reppin’ Cutty Ranks and Beenie Man. In the other corner, I’m the flag bearer for Shabba Ranks and Buju Banton. Plus, we brought along our usual mix of reggae-fied sounds, highlighted by a selection of soulful reggae covers, mashups and a dancehall-ification of The Cure. Peace. Love. And Bass.
If you’re a foodie, live in Toronto and enjoy a well conceived cocktail you need to drop by The County General if you haven’t already. Now, I’m not going to bother with a proper review; Mr. James Chatto, blogTo and a host of others have already done the honours. No, I’m interested in one thing and one thing only:
Okay, those who know me understand that family, friends, music, rum and good times are my passions. And not necessarily in that order. And those who know me also understand that I’m often b*tchin’ and moaning about this city’s lack of respect for my favourite spirit. The rum selection at too many establishments in Toronto is the liquor equivalent of buying a suit at Value Village; it looks like what you want or need but doesn’t really fit that well and is of questionable quality.
So I was quite skeptical when a friend told me about the great rum selection at CG. Then I went on their website and checked out the menu for myself. Ka-ching! Not only did/do they carry some of my favourite rums but I’ve also been getting into a little bourbon these days and their bourbon selection is pretty sweet.
But you want to know the best part? Want to know how I knew they were serious about providing quality? Well, the minute I walked into County General, sat at the bar and realized that Bacardi and Captain Morgan were nowhere to be seen, I knew I was in an establishment that really respected rum. I knew I was in a place that would make me happy. Sometimes, the thing you don’t do is just as significant as the thing you do.
So do yourself a favour, grab your girl/boy, grab your friends, grab your rabbi, whatever; just get yourself to County General. The food is good. The staff is great. And the rum is excellent. I promise you won’t regret it.