Frederick "Toots" Hibbert is one of the half dozen or so Jamaican musicians who can justifiably lay claim to having "invented" reggae, and hardly anyone disputes that he gave the genre its name ("Do the Reggay," 1968). When he and Bob Marley were getting their first U.S. releases (1974 or so) the two were considered rivals for the pinnacle of the reggae pantheon. I don't know whether Marley just had a better hype machine or what, but Toots deserves attention every bit as much as Marley did. History aside, he represents a tough, gritty aesthetic that stands out all the more in a latter-day reggae scene cluttered with crooning blandnesses of sound-alike Jah jive. Strongly influenced by the gospel-based shouting of 1960s Memphis soul singers like Otis Redding and Wilson Pickett, Toots really knows how to work a groove incisively, and where so many reggae guys sound like they're blissing from too much hemp, Toots seems to favor keeping a slightly clearer head--the better to grab life by the throat. Saturday, Cubby Bear, 1059 W. Addison; 327-1662 or 477-7469.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/George DuBose.