Steel Pulse: Amlak "amBASSador" Tafari
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July 6, 2014
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Dig the music Mr. Deejay: Handsworth's reggae heritage

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HISTORY
RAR 78
In 1978, race relations in Britain were in crisis. The National Front was gathering power and immigrants lived in fear of violence.

But that year also saw the birth of a campaign - Rock Against Racism (RAR) - aimed at halting the tide of hatred with music - a grassroots movement culminating in a march across London and an open-air concert in the East End. The campaign involved groups like The Clash, Steel Pulse, Buzzcocks, X-Ray Spex, The Ruts, and others, staging concerts with an anti-racist theme, in order to discourage young people from embracing racist views.

Learn more >>

AMLAK "amBASSador"TAFARI
bass

Amlak Tafari

TECH-TALK with
Amlak "amBASSasdor" Tafari

I have a full endorsement deal with Carvin who manufacture my ICON 5 STRING basses. Not only do I have a great relationship with my basses, I have an equally great relationship with the company, representing them at NAMM, and in a number of industry related publications; including Bass Player Magazine and their own monthly catalogue.

A must and very important mention is my Carvin GS25 DELUXE GUITAR STRAP. These straps are very light weight, yet wide enough and padded enough to ensure comfort and steadfastness on the shoulder. DUNLOP STRAP LOCKS secures the instrument allowing me to safely dart around the stage.

My strings of choice are SR2000 medium roundwound by Dean Markley. My full endorsement with this company has lasted for the better part of 20 years, also with features in Bass Magazine.

Likewise, I have held an endorsement deal with Eden-Electronics for an equal amount of time, using their WT-800 BASS AMPLIFIERS and two 4x10 XLT BASS CABINETS. The sound is simply incomparable!

The most reliable, road worthy tuner on market has to be the Boss TU!

Hailing from Handsworth, Birmingham, the ‘International Reggae Am-BASS-Ador’ is an English-born Jamaican and internationally acclaimed musician, who embarked upon his path in music at the tender age of six when he picked up a recorder and mouth organ. By the age of ten, he was a devoted member of the steel band playing at his local church and at 14, joined his first reggae band playing rhythm and lead guitar. With this band, Amlak toured Europe and Africa while on occasion performed as a session guitarist for Musical Youth. He soon began playing bass guitar and went on to tour and record with such luminaries as I Jahman Levi, Pablo Moses, Culture, Beres Hammond, Luciano, Johnny Osborne and the legendary Big Youth from Jamaica.

In 1989, Amlak worked extensively with Grammy nominee Pato Banton and The Reggae Revolution playing rhythm/lead guitar. He later switched back to bass while enjoying brief stints with Lt Stitchie, Tippa Irie, Earl Sixteen and Mikey Dread. Pato Banton celebrated chart success in 1995 when ‘Baby Come Back’ recorded with UB40, skyrocketed to number 1 in the U.K. ‘Bubbling Hot’ recorded with Ranking Roger of the English Beat also reached the number 1 spot. Once gain, the band pinnacled with long-time friend Sting, with hits such as ‘The Cowboy Song’ and ‘Spirits of the Material World’. Additionally, Amlak wrote and performed the Spanish DJ-rap for the track ‘Ven A Mi Fiesta’ on Pato's album ‘Stay Positive’ album thus demonstrating his developing linguistic adaptability and unique artistic expression.

Also known as Mr. A.T. by some of his closest friends, Amlak performed as front man/emcee for the UK dance band Piano Man. Their song ‘Blurred’ climbed to number 6 in the British pop charts, culminating in a performance on MTV's largest international simultaneous broadcast at that time, featuring many of the world's top artists.

After relocating to California, while frequenting Brazil, Amlak began touring with The Wailing Souls. He then formulated the concept of the Yellow Wall Dub (YWD) backing band then partnered with the outstanding guitarist Fazal Prendergast shortly thereafter. Subsequent collaborations include Don Carlos, Apple Gabriel, Sister Carol, The Itals, Ras Shilo and The Abyssinians. Although Amlak later returned to the UK to develop the YWD (UK) and Yellow Wall Productions Music and Mentoring Services, the YWD (USA) continues to back acts such as Yami Bolo, The Melodians, The Mighty Diamonds and Frankie Paul, to name but a few.

Since his UK return, Mr A.T. has written, produced and performed internationally with a plethora of artists including California-based bands Boom Shaka and Dub Nation on their 2012 album release, Rising Force For Change; featuring Amlak Tafari’s lyrical chants alongside sweet melodies from Quino of Big Mountain. Brazilian collaborations include Djambe, Jota lll, Namaste, Dada Yute and Lindy Lopez, backing vocalist of the world-renowned, Oludun. Argentinian collaborators include Princessa and the unstoppable Fidel Nadal. A.T. co-produced and guest appeared on the album ‘Unidade’ by the, Chilean/Californian reggae star, Red I and has recently produced and performed on ‘Bless and Fya’ by the Chilean new roots sensation, Aflora Reggae band. As well as producing 'My Love' for Dennis Seaton, lead singer for the band, Musical Youth, A.T. has since been appointed as the musical director and co-producer for their forthcoming album.

As a Master of Ceremonies, public speaker and consultant, A.T. has hosted a number of events around the world including the two-day televised Afribbean Festival in 1998 and 1999 Mountain View, California and the prestigious Raggamuffins (Bob Marley Day) Festival at the Long Beach Arena, California 1999 to present. Other assignments include hosting the Reggae Ambassadors Worldwide conference and showcase USA 1999; Birmingham UK's Artfest-Reggae Rocks event 2004/5; Taking Over Production’s annual Reggae Fest, Portugal 2008-present; corporate conferences; lecture seminars; weddings and a range of social events.

The Reggae Am-BASS-Ador has appeared in the Reggae Festival Guide, Bass Player, Bass World and Bassics magazines representing Carvin. His full endorsement and great relationship with artist relations Richard Cruz and the staff, has allowed him to help develop his signature ICON 5 string bass. He represented Carvin at the 2007 NAMM show with an autograph signing session alongside fellow endorsing artist Moonie (Steel Pulse), Frank Gamble, Bunny Brunel, Tony MacAlpine and Steve Vai. A.T. also endorses Dean Markley Strings and David Eden Bass amplification.

As well as a busy tour schedule as bassist for the Grammy winners Steel Pulse, Amlak works as a mentor facilitating music workshops and motivational talks. He has worked closely with East Staffordshire Racial Equality Council (U.K), Express Yourself Youth Projects (U.S.A.) and Biruta (Brazil) and regularly takes time out to visit educational institutions and correctional facilities whenever time permits.

I was born and raised in Handsworth, in an era of misunderstanding, prejudice, racism, riots, great expectations, disappointment and astounding triumphs! Throughout it all, music was the very core of my existence. My mission now is to educate, motivate and empower, through one of the greatest powers known to the human race… the power of music
– A. T.

A native of Birmingham in the U.K. [also home of Duran Duran, UB40, Black Sabbath, and Joan Armatrading] Amlak's versatility and interests ranges from mentoring, facilitating workshops, songwriting, producing, composing for TV, performing and hosting major events. With a B.A. in Popular Music and a M.A. in Musicology, he is continuously expanding his extraordinary talents into other areas of his long and rich journey in life.

THE REST OF STEEL PULSE:

David Dread Hinds
David
"Dread"
Hinds
Selwyn Brown
Selwyn
"Bumbo"
Brown
Sidney MillsSidney
"Predator"
Mills
Amlak Tafari
Amlak
"AmBASSador"
Tafari

C SharpWayne
"C#"
Elvis Clarke

Donovan McKitty
Donovan
"Macka-T"
McKitty
Keysha Taggart
Makiesha "Keysha" McTaggart
Jerry Johnson
Jerry
"Saxman"
Johnson

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