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Playing Around: David Kirton



There's a lot of the old natural mystic flowing through David Kirton's music, but the music created by the Baja artist is a new kind of reggae. Based in the roots style of Bob Marley and Jimmy Cliff, Kirton has drawn from Spanish influences and world beats for his concoction of reggae, island and pop.

Born and raised on the tiny eastern Carribbean island of Barbados, Kirton went to England in the mid-'80s to train as an audio engineer. That time spent in the urban wilds of London, at a time when dancehall, dub and reggae were taking over the club scene, helped to shape Kirton's modern view of old-school island music. With a respect for the old masters that is inherent in Rastafarian culture, Kirton began to develop a new brand of roots-rock. His first album, 1999's Stranger, reflects Kirton's musical history through the traditional reggae bounce and hopeful, spiritual lyrics. Lovers rock, a major influence, also grooves heavily throughout Stranger and Kirton's subsequent albums.

All of these tropical inspirations and northern instrumentations give birth to a fresh, up-to-date roots melody that, without someone like Kirton at the helm, might crash on the reef already inhabited by UB40. But Kirton keeps in the forefront the realistic, honest and bare-breasted humanity of true reggae music, and his reverent rhythms, lyrics and inflection pay homage to those in the past while providing a floor plan for those to come. It's new, and it is different, but it will still make you groove and praise.

Kirton performs Thursday night up at Tres. There's no cover; call 687-0625.

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