Jan Salzman had a chance to sit down with Pato Banton for Island Stage Magazine and catch up on life and works with his beautiful wife, Antoinette “Roots Dawtah” Hall and his band “The Now Generation” Here is their conversation:
This Grammy nominee keeps himself busy, but we found a way to catch up with him.
Jan: How’s everything going Pato?
Pato: Everything’s going good at the moment. We just got home from a Florida tour and we’re working on future tours right now. We’ve got a couple releases coming out due in a few days time so yes we’re very busy.
Finding someone as upbeat as reggae star Pato Banton is as rare as someone dying of old age on “Game of Thrones.” Banton is so relentlessly pleasant, he could make a statue of Dick Cheney smile — well, smirk maybe. A frequent visitor to the 805 for nearly three decades, Banton will bring his songs of uplift, joy and hope to Discovery Ventura Thursday, Jan. 12.
Banton, reggae’s Mr. Happy, seems to emanate good vibrations and when and if his live shows are ever interrupted, it’s not because of a fight or the arrival of the cops, but rather … a wedding? Always a spiritual guy, Banton shows have been known to end with a prayer circle between fans and rock star.
Although Pato Banton’s been in the music industry for 26 years, he feels like a young kid starting his musical journey again. However, he admits that he has the advantage of a prolific legacy that he can pick up where he left it after a staggering personal tragedy.” This isn’t about playing music to make money, this is a mission for me. It’s like a mission for spreading positive messages,” said Banton. “I think people need to be hearing self-empowerment messages today, messages touching on social, family and political issues. But not just looking at them in a negative light, looking in from a spiritual viewpoint and being positive about the different situations that are going on right now.”Banton suffered the crushing loss of two sons to a drive-by shooting a few years ago in his hometown of Birmingham, England, so he took a break from his career to work with homeless kids, those involved in crime and with no educational background to make things better in his community.He set up a community organization that linked about 20 community centers together in the most deprived area of the city. He raised money from the British government to put musical equipment in every community center.Within the first year of Banton’s quest to ameliorate the crime and violence in his home, the top college in the city, Matthew Boulton College, invited Banton and his team to set up a music department there.
You ask me how I see the world??? My answer is sadly.”
That statement prefaces the liner notes for rising reggae star Pato Banton’s new Wize Up!, an album that dwells on the sorrow caused by poverty, war, injustice, “political foolishness,” bigotry, drug addiction and the destruction of the environment. Still, his lovely, often humorous songs are a sure tonic against despair.
“I’m not so hopeful for the world; I’m more hopeful for the individual soul,” Banton said in a phone interview from New England. Banton and his band, the Studio 2 Crew, will play Orlando’s Beacham Theatre Saturday.