By Lavern McDonald
Caribbean News Now contributor
NEW YORK, USA — On a balmy fall Sunday evening, as the marquees of New York’s Times Square announced the latest spectacles to grab the attention of locals and tourists alike, a house manager on an aluminum ladder fixed the spacing of the letters announcing that night’s headliners at the legendary basement blues club, B.B. King’s. As he perhaps rightly anticipated, a healthy throng of reggae stalwarts came to the music temple on September 29 to pay tribute to some king men of the genre, Michael Rose, Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare.
Fenton Wardle, the founder of the Oakland, CA-based group, the Reggae Angels, opened the evening. With his black kufi, chest-length beard and modest long-sleeved shirt, Wardle’s earnest delivery of his lyrics full of positivity got the attention of the room. Camera phones held out like boom recorders of old, several abandoned their pre-headliner inattention on the margins to capture Wardle’s performance. He reminded this reviewer of the first time she saw Matisyahu at the now-closed Park Slope music house, South Paw. Matisyahu, then a member of the Brooklyn Lubavitcher Hasidim – was then rocking articles of his religiosity: his payess and tzitzit. He threw his head back for a heartfelt a-capella version of the black spiritual, “Zion Me Wan’ Go Home.” His delivery of that song reminded all about the deep yearnings people the world over have for home and acceptance. Given the many capturing Wardle’s performance, it is a fair guess that his contributions to the Sunday evening show are now in the archives of Twitter, Instagram and Youtube.