Global Warning comes to Keystone
KEYSTONE – As a child growing up in England, David Hinds identified more with his Jamaican roots. His parents had emigrated from Jamaica after World War II, but they remained true to the island traditions.
Every weekend, Hinds and his sisters polished the steps of his parents’ home with bright red polish – a Jamaican tradition. A couple times a week, they dusted the furniture in the front room, which still looked new after 10 years because it was reserved for visitors who updated the family on Jamaican politics, dance and music.
Hinds’ links to the island and the racial tension he experienced growing up in the ghetto of Handsworth, England, led him to develop a strong political voice, along with his high school friend Selwyn Brown. Their outrage ultimately fueled their reggae music.
Hinds, Brown and original bandmembers bassist Ronald “Steeper” McQueen and guitarist Basil Gabbidon grew up in the ghetto, taught one another the basics of music and formed Steel Pulse in 1975. But British club owners shunned the band because of reggae’s reputation for anti-authoritarian ideas and a penchant for smoking ganja.
Steel Pulse got its break with the punk and new wave movement, opening for such bands as the Clash and the Police. It signed with Island Records and recorded its first three albums under Karl Pitterson, who had worked with Bob Marley and the Wailers.
Then, in the 1980s, Steel Pulse toured the States and Europe, drawing large followings. It won a Grammy Award for “Babylon the Bandit” in 1985.
But by the late ’80s, the band lost its unique edge by trying to become more commercially viable. Hinds said the record company asked the band to tone down its messages, particularly in the way of naming such specific “enemies” as the government and the Ku Klux Klan. Whatever the reasons, its 1988 album “State of Emergency,” released by MCA, bombed.
In 1994, Steel Pulse returned to its roots, recording “Vex” in Jamaica and infusing its music with statements about contemporary issues – a trend it has maintained.
This summer, its Global Warning tour addresses tyrants, nuclear weapons and environmental themes.
“We always try to let people be aware of what’s going on in the environment,” Hinds said. “Everybody’s lifestyle is eight hours of sleep, eight hours of work and eight hours to pay bills and entertain the rest of the family. As a result, people go around with their eyes shut. This is where we come in. We try to enlighten the population.
“It’s like a bumblebee in a pollen field. We go to different parts of the world and visit and spread the word of how people are living in other parts of the world.”
The musicians base their message on positivity and spirituality – some of which is based in the Rastafarian tradition.
“From our standpoint, we’re all about God in this day and age and liberating Africa,” Hinds said. “We strongly believe the human race will never be at its heights unless every human being is elevated to the same level.”
Steel Pulse plays at 7 p.m. today at the Park Lane Pavilion in Keystone. Tickets are $27 at the door, plus service fees.
Event: Steel Pulse
When: 7 p.m. today
Where: Park Lane Pavilion, River Run, Keystone
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