Derrick Harriot NYE Hop Review & Photos

» WORDS BY JESSE WARD FROM BAKERSFIELD’S TOP SKINHEAD REGGAE BAND THE TARFONS.

» PHOTOS BY TAURINO TADEO – SOUL SHOTS PHOTOGRAPHY

Well, they’ve done it again! First Round Promotions, one of the finest promotion companies in Northern California specializing in Reggae and Ska, have put on yet another spectacular show with a Reggae legend. First Round Promotions in conjunction with Wake the Town Radio and the San Francisco Vintage Reggae Society rang in the New Year in grand fashion at the Rockit Room in San Francisco with the legendary Reggae/Rocksteady artist Derrick Harriott.

This was the second presentation by First Round Promotions that I have attended. I had the pleasure of seeing Pat Kelly play the Rockit Room in San Francisco on September 17th, 2011 and I was so impressed not only by the caliber of the performers but by the overall production level and professionalism of those who put on the show. I made a promise to myself that I would definitely make my way up to San Francisco again to see another show put on by First Round Promotions and they did not disappoint.

I left Bakersfield early in the afternoon on the 31st and thanks to no traffic, I arrived in San Francisco with plenty of time to get to the venue. The show opened up with an outstanding performance by a local Reggae group called The Satisfactions. They are a fairly young group with a female lead singer who has an amazingly lovely voice. The whole band is extremely talented and their unique blend of Soul, R&B, and Rocksteady was definitely a great prelude to the rest of the show.

Next up was a band from Chico called Boss 501. This group is made up of several highly talented musicians who all share a passion for traditional Jamaican sounds. This group has been making a name for themselves over the last few years, having played shows all over California with some of the biggest names in Reggae and Ska. They put on a truly excellent performance, playing such original songs as “Extra Sad Mary” and “Do The Reggae” which can be found on their debut album “In The Groove.”

Next up on the bill was a band from Los Angeles that I’ve had the honor of seeing a few times before as well as shared the same stage with. The Delirians are a septet of musicians who play a mix of Reggae, Ska, and Soul. They have performed alongside several of the biggest names in Reggae and Ska over the last few years including The Skatalites, Bad Manners, See Spot, Queen P and Stranger Cole. On this night they definitely got the crowd moving with such songs as “Musical Remedy” and “El Gigante” which can both be found on their soon to be released 7” vinyl on Moondust Records as well as “Little Red Truck.” The crowd was dancing up a storm by the time they finished their set but the good times were far from over.

By the time The Impalers took the stage at the Rockit Room the crowd had surged to such a capacity that there was barely enough room to move around. This didn’t stop anyone from getting down and moving their feet to the electrifying rhythms of this local outfit. The Impalers are a San Francisco based group that plays an eclectic mix of Reggae and Rocksteady infused with elements of Soul and Funk. This unique blend of rhythms, melodies and grooves has given The Impalers a one-of-a-kind sound that continues to draw large crowds to their shows and this show was no different. The crowd reacted with great enthusiasm and energy as they played such original songs as “Uppercut” (from their debut album and also a soon to be released Moondust Records 7″) along with “The Return of Jackson” and “Blood, Rum and Reggae”. By the end of their set, there was barely a person standing in the Rockit Room who wasn’t moving and dancing to the beat. However, this would pale in comparison of what was to come.

It was nearly 11:30 before The Impalers had finished their set and the whole crowd was anxiously waiting to see Derrick Harriott. First Round Promotions had been working for nearly 18 months to bring him to San Francisco and to put on this show. Now all the hard work and sacrifice would finally come to fruition. When Derrick Harriott finally took the stage around 11:45 with his backing band, California based Reggae outfit Sand Dollar Sound, the crowd went berserk.

For the first time ever on the West Coast, the legendary Derrick Harriott was playing. He opened up with his classic Rocksteady hit “Psychedelic Train” then immediately transitioned into the highly popular song “Monkey Ska.” After playing “Over The River” Derrick Harriott initiated the countdown and all those in the Rockit Room welcomed 2012 in with style. From there, he played a multitude of his classic Reggae/Rocksteady hits. From slow, romantic ballads such as “We Belong Together” and “What Can I Do?” to more upbeat, soulful numbers such as “Born To Love You” and “Been So Long”, Derrick Harriott brought forth an energy and intensity that truly captivated the standing-room-only audience. It’s that energy and spirit that has followed him throughout his career and has made him the legendary performer that he is.

In his 18-song and nearly hour and a half performance, there was not a single person in the Rockit Room who was not mesmerized or fully immersed in what they were witnessing. Whether they were dancing or singing along with classics such as “Solomon” and “Loser” all those in the audience were having the time of their lives. When Derrick Harriott finished off his set with “Let Me Down Easy” it was around 1:15 and no one, including Derrick Harriott, wanted the night to end.

Sadly though, it had to. However, on a positive note, everyone in attendance knew that they had witnessed possibly one of the best Reggae/Ska shows of 2011 and it definitely set the bar high for any other Reggae/Ska show in 2012. It seems only appropriate that it would occur on New Year’s Eve.

Major props to First Round Promotions, Wake The Town Radio and the San Francisco Vintage Reggae Society for putting on such an amazing show. Major props also to DJ’s Nina and Viktor of L.A.’s Rocksteady Lounge, Revival Sound Selector, Mr. Ryha, Dukey, Shawn Atkinson, and Sure Shot who kept the party going from the beginning to the end spinning Reggae and Ska classics. Also, fantastic performances by The Satisfactions, Boss 501, The Delirians, The Impalers, Sand Dollar Sound, and of course, the absolutely amazing and legendary, Derrick Harriott. Absolutely fantastic show!

SET LIST:
1. Psychedelic Train
2. Monkey Ska
3. Over The River
4. We Belong Together
5. What Can I Do
6. Checking Out
7. Born To Love You
8. Been So Long
9. The Loser
10. Do I Worry
11. Solomon
12. Walk The Streets
13. Tonight Tonight
14. Stop That Train
15. A Long Story
16. Close To Me
17. Standing In
18. Let Me Down Easy

I've been involved in the Los Angeles music scene since at least 1995 going to shows, promoting, spinning records and running labels. Ska and Early Reggae are my passion among other things of course.