Posted March 5, 2009 in

While Jamaican reggae music underwent its most satisfyingly turbulent and creative period during the dub mad 1970s, by the end of the decade it appeared as if rigor mortis was setting in. Hobbled at one end by the increasingly dreary proselytizing of devout Rastafarians and degraded at the other extreme by the inconsequential pop jive of the emerging Lover’s Rock style, the once vibrant regional sound was crying out for a fresh, relevant voice—and long, tall oddball Eek-A-Mouse provided exactly that. With a deft, daffy, freestyle brand of microphone malfeasance, acrobatic falsetto scat runs, bizarro transposition of consonants for vowels (“murder” became “murther”), and a natural comfort within, around and above whatever rhythm he took on, Eek-A-Mouse looked to a strange, bold new future for the established Jamaican toaster-singjay tradition. Add to that his eye-popping employ of unusual wardrobe, often appearing costumed as a pirate or a poncho-wrapped, sombrero topped bandito, Eek-A-Mouse’s gift as an entertainer was unmatched. Highly idiosyncratic—his first album had a song lampooning Adolf Hitler, for crying out loud—and thoroughly original, Eek-A-Mouse betrayed no obvious vocal influences. In fact, he has told interviewers that his favorite singers were Marty Robbins and Jerry Lee Lewis. From the 1980 release of his self-titled first album, the Mouse has never broken his stride. Touring ceaselessly but never at a loss for spontaneous wordplay, reggae’s most notable rodent always delivers the goods. (Jonny Whiteside)

Eek-A-Mouse at Stingers Bar and Nightclub, 194 W. Club Center Drive, San Bernardino, (909) 872-0308; Sun., March 8, 8PM. $20


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