Concert Review: Ken Boothe, Jay Douglas, August 21, CNE Bandshell


During his set opening for Ken Boothe at the CNE Bandshell on Wednesday night, Jay Douglas had history on his mind, acknowledging some local history by talking briefly about the battle of York which took place on the CNE grounds back in 1813. Furthermore, Douglas acknowledged the historical roots of his music throughout the set, paying his respects to the artists who laid the foundations of reggae not just with shout outs but with a few well-chosen covers. Of course Douglas himself has played a significant part in Canadian music history, fronting R&B band The Cougars (represented on this evening with “I Wish It Would Rain”) and later helping to put together the excellent Jamaica To Toronto compilation.

Following Douglas was headliner Ken Boothe. Sharply dressed in a red suit and bow tie, Boothe started strong, opening his set with “Freedom Street” and grabbing the crowd’s attention from the get go. While his career stretches back to the 1960s, I’ll admit that I’ve only just discovered Boothe quite recently through his performance as part of Inna De Yard at Roskilde Festival last month. Seeing this 71 year old man come out on stage at that show and sing a reggae version of “Speak Softly Love” (aka the theme from The Godfather) definitely piqued my curiosity, so when I saw that he was playing a show at the CNE, I took the opportunity to check him out again. And he did not disappoint.

Before returning to the stage for a brief a capella version of “Try A Little Tenderness”, Boothe closed out his main set with his version of Bread’s “Everything I Own”, a big hit for him back in the ’70s which he’s recently rerecorded with the aforementioned Inna De Yard, a project put together in the wake of a documentary of the same name covering Boothe and several other old school reggae stars. Check out the video for Inna De Yard’s version of “Everything I Own” below:

Posted on by Paul in Concerts