The Big Takeover

I arrived at the Bearsville Theatre "Tribute to One Love" reggae show as The Big Takeover was playing. I was surprised that all the musicians were white, though the lead singer was black. All looked to be in their 20s — they moved and gyrated like a Popeye cartoon from 1923. The drummer, Sam Tritto, wore a jaunty felt hat. The other instruments were: tenor sax, trombone, guitar, bass. The trombonist, Andy Vogt, also quietly sang backup vocals. The Big Takeover featured solos, on every instrument except bass (Rob Kissner). "Reggae is a form of jazz," The Big Takeover believes. Yes, it’s dance music, but its looseness allows for musical elaboration. The sax player (Chas Montrose) was the best; the guitarist (Billy Trimarchi) a little prosaic. I only heard one trombone solo, and though not dexterous, it was delighting. Neenee Rushie, the lead singer, is a young woman from Jamaica in a layer-cake pink dress and silver heels. She seemed to be skating on the stage. Neenee has a high voice, and a gentle, ironic face. She represents the new reggae feminism, with songs like "Walk the Plank" — which she sang with singular pleasure. Neenee reminded me of classic pop singers from the 1960s, like Lulu or Gladys Horton (of the Marvelettes). She is sexy, precocious, teasing. In the balcony, I gazed at her and wiggled. (Late in the set, Neenee announced: "This is another sexy song, so couple up — or triple up!")

 

For moments, such as the beginning of their new song "No One Is Gonna Rain on My Parade," the band is near-punk, but mostly they are pop-reggae. In a better world, they’d have a hit, and gyrate on Jimmy Kimmel Live!