- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 4, 2004

Reggae is getting a lot of airplay these days, with Sean Paul and Wayne Wonder bending the groove

to a hip-hop beat. But if you’re looking for the real thing, you may have to dig a little deeper than what’s filling up the airwaves.

“You should listen to my kind of reggae,” says Frederick Hibbert, better known as Toots of Toots and the Maytals, who will be playing the Roots Rock Reggae Festival at Wolf Trap on Sunday. Toots should know. After all, he’s the one who first used the term, in “Do the Reggay” way back in 1968.

Back then, reggae was coming into its own, evolving from Jamaican ska and rocksteady into the now-familiar form. Through it all, Toots was able to develop his own distinctive sound and singing style, thanks in part to some very early practice.

“My parents took me to church when I was about three, put me on the table, and I sang,” Toots remembers. “I was singing, and everyone turned around.”

So you could say that Toots’ career as a solo artist started right there. Not that Toots is averse to working with others. His latest album, “True Love,” features collaborations on reggae standards with the likes of Bonnie Raitt, Eric Clapton and Bootsy Collins.

“We bring the roots from Jamaica to the roots from America,” Toots says.

The Roots Rock Reggae festival itself includes some of the newest names in reggae — albeit with an impeccable pedigree. Bob Marley offspring Julian, Damian, Stephen, Ziggy and Ky-mani Marley will all be playing here as well.

“I appreciate what the youth is doing,” Toots says. “And I get to teach them what real reggae is. It carries a message, and culture and is in no way negative. We are coming to make people rejoice.”

• • •

Meanwhile, the ninth annual Guitar and Saxes tour blows into the Birchmere on Monday and Tuesday. This year’s lineup includes guitarists Jeff Golub and Marc Antoine and saxophonists Warren Hill and Euge Groove, featuring the kind of smooth jazz that radio folks like to make much of.

In truth, there’s more than a dollop of soul in the program. Take Mr. Golub’s brand of jazz, as evidenced by his latest album, “Soul Sessions,” which makes use of musicians playing together, as they did in the glory days of rhythm and blues.

Over the years, he’s played with Rod Stewart, Ashford and Simpson, and Vanessa Williams, and all of them have influenced his playing. (He’s also gone a round or two with Billy Squier, opening up a host of possibilities for his sound.)

There’s a certain California vibe to the tour this year, though the four principals are scattered around the country when they are on their own. There’s the sound, of course, the sort of groove that’s usually associated with the West Coast. Then there are the easy combinations among the group members. The four play solo, all together and in various permutations throughout the evening.

“It’s really a good thing to be a part of,” Mr. Golub says. “We get to take advantage of the other artists. We do end up playing quite a bit together.”

There’s also a bit of a D.C. influence at work here. You might even call new-to-the-tour Euge Groove a hometown boy. He grew up in Hagerstown, Md., and spent many nights glued to the radio listening to WKYS-FM.

“I listened to all the great old soul hits,” he says. “Kool and the Gang, the Brothers Johnson, Peaches and Herb, everybody.”

Euge Groove went on to tour with a number of headliners as a sideman, including Tower of Power, Tina Turner and Joe Cocker. A solo artist since 2000, he plans to include at least a couple of cuts from his latest album, “Livin’ Large.”

Now, although he’s associated with a style of music that some would call “smooth jazz,” he insists that there’s actually no such thing.

“It’s really just a radio format,” he says. “It’s really very diverse with lots of influences. You can’t try to pigeonhole it.”

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