The name of this band is Talking Dreads
Mystic Bowie brings project to O.P. Rockwell
Singer and bandleader Mystic Bowie is a huge Talking Heads fan.
His fandom goes as far as creating a new band called Taking Dreads, which transforms Talking
Heads rhythm and punk tunes into reggae jams.
“I kicked it off two years ago,” Bowie said during a telephone call to The Park Record from Cincinnati, Ohio. “I wanted to bridge the musical generation. I didn’t just want to tap into the
Talking Heads fanbase, but also the Caribbean music fan base and the younger generation.”
Park City will get a chance to hear and see Talking Dreads in action on Thursday, Aug. 17, at O.P. Rockwell.
“I’m looking forward to come entertain, and show the power and talent of Talking Dreads,”
Bowie isn’t bandwagon jumper when it comes to Talking Heads music.
He was first introduced to the music while he was growing up in Jamaica.
“Talking Heads music was piped or funneled into Jamaica back in the day thanks to Chris Blackwell of Island Records.” Bowie said. “I grew up with the music back in those days.”
After the group broke up in 1991, bassist Tina Weymouth and drummer Chris Frantz focused their efforts on their band Tom Tom Club, and Bowie joined their throng as a front man a few years later.
“Once I started working with Chris and Tina, eight years before I started Taking Dreads, I had the idea of doing all their songs in reggae,” Bowie said.
He was drawn to the lyrics, David Byrne’s poetry.
“The songs are also very rhythmic,” Bowie said. “The rhythms laid down by Chris and Tina and (keyboardist) Jerry Harrison align perfectly with Caribbean ears.”
All the time Bowie worked with Tom Tom Club, he hoped, wished and dreamed that the Talking Heads would get back together.
“I realized it wasn’t going to happen, because I saw the offers come in and get rejected time and time again,” he said. “I thought how could I sit back and let this amazing piece of artistry go to sleep, so I went out and secured the idea, concept and name of Talking Dreads.”
One day, Bowie mentioned Talking Dreads to Frantz and Weymouth.
“They both laughed and said, ‘What an amazing idea. Mystic, you should definitely do it,’” he said. “So, here I am.”
Bowie began selecting songs and arranging them in reggae fashion.
“Since, I want the younger generation to give this a good listen and understand the artistry, I went back to Jamaica to record the new album,” he said. “I did this because I wanted to authenticate the reggae and Caribbean part of what I was doing.”
Bowie called on various artists who he has met, worked with or shared the stage with to help with the album.
“One of the main people I called was Cindy Wilson from the B-52’s,” Bowie said. “She sang on the song called ‘Heaven.’”
Bowie recruited reggae legend Freddie McGregor for the song “Life During Wartime.”
“Lincoln Thomas, who as Freddie’s arranger, helped me with the arrangements and played guitar on all the songs,” Bowie said.
Other reggae notables who are on the album include saxophonist Dean Fraser, who arranged and played all the sax parts on the album, the late trombonist Nambo Robinson, singer Taurus Reilly, Jamaican rock-a-billy band The Melodians and guitarist Ernest Ranglin.
“I was so honored, because every single person I called said yes and wanted to be a part of this,” Bowie said.
The bandleader said he was careful to not lose sight of his goal of bridging generations through the music.
“It was very important to maintain the integrity of Talking Heads songs,” he said. “I didn’t want to come off like a cover band. So, we rewrote and rearranged all of the songs. We sketched everything out, because I would be a fool to erase or eliminate all the things that I love about Talking Heads music.
“So, we made sure we kept the original hooks and melodies, while achieving my goal of making them Caribbean music.”
This album is already mixed and packaged for release in a few months.
“In the meantime, we’re just touring to promote the concept,” Bowie said.
As a lifelong fan of the Talking Heads, Bowie said it is hard to name his favorite song.
“I have many favorites, but I really like ‘Pulled Up,’” he said. “I have never asked David where he was in his life when he wrote those lyrics, but I like the song because I feel like every single living being can associate with the lyrics of that song. It’s about being pulled up from being
Bowie hopes Taking Dreads succeed because he wants to make the Taking Heads proud, and has not heard any complaints from Byrne.
“That is so great, because David is a very outspoken person,” Bowie said. “If he doesn’t like something, then he’ll tell you.”
A couple of weeks ago, Frantz, who hosts a radio show called Talking Head, started off one episode with Talking Dreads’ version of “Psycho Killer.”
“That is one of the biggest endorsements that I could ever have,” he said. “That made me feel so happy and proud to know that I am making them proud. I think they realize that I didn’t work outside the integrity of the music.”
Bowie hopes Park City audiences will come to the O.P. Rockwell show.
“I want people to come and experience Talking Dreads,” he said. “It’s a family and not just a group. We are trying to make every person who hears us become a part of the Taking Dreads family.”
Talking Dreads will perform at 9 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 17, at O.P. Rockwell, 268 Main St. The show is for ages 21 and older. Tickets range from $13 to $30. They can be purchased by visiting http://www.oprockwell.com.
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