The weekend event has grown every year, bringing fans of reggae and wine to the scenic hills of Wrightsville overlooking the Susquehanna River.
The lineup this year is bigger and better than ever including the Saturday night headliner: Mystic Bowie’s Talking Dreads.
That is a play on words as they pay tribute to the legendary Talking Heads by mixing in their authentic Caribbean and calypso style music with the poetry of David Byrne. I had an opportunity to talk to Mystic Bowie and dig further into his musical journey and upcoming show at Moon Dancer Winery & Cider House.
MJ: What first drew you to music and performing?
MB: The music actually found me. I was discovered in church singing as a child in a choir in Jamaica when I was just 7 years old when I started. When I was 9 years old I recorded my first single that gave me enough confidence to follow the path of music. I entered a competition at the age of 13 called The Jamaican Pop and Variety Fest and ended up winning first place in my region. The music chose me and I followed its path.
Tell me how you approached dissecting the music of Talking Heads?
It was pretty simple because Talking Heads music is very reggae inspired, very African music inspired. If you strip down their music, it is very reggae. Their songs have stories to them and it’s not just a jam session. When I was a member of Tom Tom Club, that included former members of the Talking Heads Tina Weymouth and Chris Frantz, I started stripping away their music in my mind and coming up with my own rendition. I wanted it to be something to reflect my roots and preserve the Talking Heads Artistry to deliver the story.
If someone never heard your music before, how would you describe your interpretation of Talking Heads?
Personally, my goal was to never be a cover band. I feel that we achieved that goal because when creating this, I took away their music 100%. I kept David’s poetry. I went to Jamaica and used legendary Jamaican musicians to help me create my own music, this helped me bridge the two cultures together. Once I managed to do this, I sent the instrumental tracks out to members of Tom Tom Club and friends of mine that were musicians to get their opinion on it and never once did they know it they were Talking Heads songs. Then, I sent it to them all again with my vocals on it and everyone told me how amazing my interpretation of the songs was.
Your deep roots into Jamaican culture, specifically your Maroon culture and traditions you hold close, how do those traditions translate through your music?
I was born and raised as a Maroon, the standards are instilled in me. Everything I do and including my music is influenced by my tradition. As a child I was not a reggae singer, I sang calypso and other Caribbean styles but not the traditional reggae style of music. My music reflects the Maroon traditions and not that of reggae.
What can fans expect from your performance at Moondancer on August 4?
What you can expect is very high energy from me in my performance. I use the stage as my own gym. You get 100% positive Maroon energy that will reflect from the audience and back to me. I’ve played Moondancer before and there is going to be a great crowd and great energy!
Check out Mystic Bowie’s Talking Dreads on Aug. 4 at Moondancer Winery and Cider House during the 13th Annual Reggae Festival featuring some of the best reggae to ever come through our area.