By Leland Smith
Daily News correspondent
Irie, mon! Anchorage's closet reggae pixies turned out en masse for the return of Clinton Fearon and the Boogie Brown Band at the Bear Tooth Theater Thursday night.
The sell-out crowd danced and tranced to the deliciously hypnotic beat as Fearon cultivated a pure state of irie, a Rastafarian phrase meaning peaceful harmony.
Drummer “Davee C” Carpenter opened solo with a crushing pulse-o-the-world groove. He was soon joined by his five outstanding band mates and groove master Fearon for a funky reggae runaway peace train.
The group opened with "Bellyful,” which seamlessly flowered into “One Destiny” as Fearon and his music invited the crowd closer to the stage. "Sleeping Lion," from Fearon's latest release "Vision," shows signs of reaching beyond the reggae framework while maintaining its integrity. Fearon, 57, is clearly a gifted vocalist and communicator.
This seasoned band of veterans is an excellent fit. The brass section carefully utilized
dynamics at all times, and they pulled out slick Motown-like dance moves for
each song. Carpenter was rock solid with the rhythm section. These guys never stopped grinning at each other.
The highlight of the show was the Fearon duet with guitarist Mark Oi. In this dual guitar setting, Fearon was able to take us all to another place. Using blues, gospel and soul devices, his voice became a colorful, endearing emotional instrument. He was able to reach down and pull art from deep inside himself, changing atmospheres and landscapes on a dime.
I drifted off and imagined a deep blues bayou, with the sound of guitars on Mark Twain's timeless river strumming in the hazy distance.
Sitting in the lobby during a break, de-ja vu kicked in and reminded me of Jerry Garcia shows I used to attend at the Warfield Theatre in San Francisco. Had the girls been spinning in circles, the vision and vibe would have been complete.
Fearon delivered heartfelt messages of peace, love and hope as a selfless offering. His voice sat atop the band and stretched out like a maiden on the bow, riding life's rhythmic waves. There was truly remarkable artistry, always moving forward, antennae out, reaching to touch your soul with the reggae wand of spiritual harmony.
Bear Tooth master engineer Allen Nielsen graced us with superb, crisp sound and lighting. The cordial and capable Bear Tooth staff -- serving up brewcrafter Aaron Benolkin's first tap of Boogie Brown Ale -- made it an evening of sheer irie for all.
Leland Smith is a performer and music educator