My love for world music is not a secret.While my default setting will always remain rock and roll, tribal rhythms and drum beats never cease to move me.I am inspired by the naturalness of it all, not always adhering to the Western verse/chorus/verse approach, and not always in a language I understand.It is pure energy captured by instruments and vocal chords.
I wish sometimes that I were capable of producing sounds like that, but I possess zero musical talent myself.None.At all.I own three guitars and can’t play any of them.I can play G, C, and D, and I fake the C because it’s too hard to play the right way.My friend Kevin once brought me on stage to play the tambourine, and we have since struck an unspoken agreement that we should probably never, ever do that again.I apparently have the rhythm of a broken metronome.It’s for the best I suppose, as I’d hate to find out that I possessed a talent for such an instrument.
I would feel obligated to pursue a gift like that.
The tambourine has always intrigued me.I think my fascination began back when Nick at Night used to air old episodes of the Monkees. Davy Jones used to play his like a god. Sometimes it was as if he’d gone into a trance, the way Jimi used to do with his guitar, only Davy did it much, much better. Anyone can play the Star Spangled Banner on a six-string; try it on a bell-covered disc.
For almost a decade I dreamed of entering the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as the tambourinist for a huge band.I fell asleep at night hearing Joe Elliot introduce me along with the rest of Def Leppard as we were inducted.After Rick Savage rumbled through a bass solo, they would get to me.“And on tambourine, from Houston, Texas, Mr. Slade Ham!”As I jingled the instrument that made me famous, the crowd would go wild, one person at a time, until the room couldn’t hold anymore screams or applause.
I’ve let that dream go though, and not just because Def Leppard is never getting into the Rock and roll Hall of Fame.There is a higher calling now.
World music is a vague term.Somewhere on the outskirts of that broad canvas is reggae, and in the center of reggae stands the Marley family.Bob sired Stephen and Ziggy and Julian and Ky-Mani and Damian, the latter of which happened to step onto a stage while I stood in the audience.
And that is where my dream shifted.Goodbye, tambourine.I have a new hero.
His name is Garfield Logan.If you search the name on the internet it will take you to pages dedicated to DC Comics’ Beast Boy.If you go see Damian Marley in concert though, you’ll see someone much more impressive than a superhero.The real Garfield Logan, sometimes referred to as Judah or Donovan, is a dreadlocked monument to perseverance and dedication and a man dangerously capable of stealing the spotlight from anyone he steps on stage with.
Damian was performing with rapper Nas, supporting a record that is half hip-hop, half reggae, and full of driving rhythmic beats, bass lines, and addicting choruses.The live show would have been amazing had it just been the two of them on stage, but they tour with a complete band including two guitarists, a bassist, a full drum kit, bongos, backup singers, dancers, and a pair of keyboardists.So which role does Sir Garfield Logan play?None of them.
He waves a flag.
That’s all he does.As Damian and Nas walked out of the wings and in to the center of the stage, they were followed by the Rastafarian flag, whipped side to side by the six foot six inch Garfield.Not passively the way an old person waves a little handheld flag on the Fourth of July, but with pride.Aggressively, exhaustingly, he thrashed a huge red and gold and green banner side to side.
What a great way to start the show, I thought.It must be tiring to swing that thing back and forth for a whole song.Then the second song began, and the third, and the flag never stopped.As the musicians riffed through reggae beats infused with Ethiopian jazz, he marched back and forth across the stage, the colors sweeping in bigger arcs with every song.I stood mesmerized on the front row.
The first hour passed and he never slowed down.He looked possessed, some Serpent and the Rainbow zombie on a mission.If he had pupils, they were gone.Pure white eyes flashed like a Mortal Kombat character or a snake that had recently turned into a human.He transcended reality.Ninety minutes passed.One hundred.The flag rippled through the air, left and right, harder than ever before.
The son of Bob Marley sang clear and strong on the stage in front of me, yet I couldn’t take my eyes off the madly whirling Judah and his flag.He brandished it like it could do magic.He was a leader, hypnotist, puppet master, and bright white light all at once, floating through pulsing beats and Jamaican patois.
A thousand of us crossed the two hour point together, and the show rattled to a stop.As Could You Be Loved reached its end, Nas and Damian shouted good night and walked off stage.The band played the final notes as Garfield Logan stood spinning his flag in ever shrinking circles, until the flag rolled itself up in perfect synch to the music.
And through it all, I stood inspired.Anything was possible again.It might take two decades of not cutting my hair, copious amounts of weed, and the upper body strength of a silverback gorilla, but I could be a rock star after all.
I just need a band that needs a flag waved.
Long live Garfield Logan.