Anyone out there a fan of reggae legends Black Uhuru?
Singer Don Carlos, born Ervin Spencer, was one of the founders of the trio in 1972, when it was just Uhuru. The group struggled early and Carlos bailed to pursue a solo career that's lasted some 40 years. He briefly rejoined Black Uhuru in the early '90s to make the Grammy nominated album "Now," but that didn't last long.
Most consider Carlos' peak solo years to be during the 1980s, when he rode the dance-hall craze with figures such as Johnny Osborne, releasing solid albums "Day to Day Living" and "Spread Out," or "Laser Beam," as it's become known.
The 61-year-old was born and reared in the rough Waterhouse district of Kingston, Jamaica. His musical director, David Lodge, who's played keyboards for him for the past 15 years, notes that Waterhouse artists seem to share a particular singing sound.
"It's almost Middle Eastern-tinged, kind of," Lodge says, with a little hesitation. "But still very accessible to the Western ear. You'll know the song when it starts, then we throw our own twists in." The material performed during Carlos' three scheduled Folk Fest sets should cover all aspects of his career, up to his most recent album, 2010's "Changes."
Carlos continues to tour the world with his Oakland-based backing group, Dub Vision — and he's known for collaborating with newer reggae hybrid acts such as Slightly Stoopid. As far as Lodge knows, Carlos hasn't heard about the infamous Toots bottle incident on Brown's Island — or if he did, was unaware it occurred in Richmond. "He's the most peaceful, loving guy in the industry," he says. "So it wouldn't matter."
What does matter is that, even though Carlos may be older, his silky smooth voice remains intact. "Don stays healthy and eats well," Lodge says. "But if you ask him how he does it, he'll say, 'Just Jah.'"
Friday: 7:45-9 p.m., Community Foundation Stage.
Saturday: 5:30-6:30 p.m., Dominion Dance Pavilion; 8:45-9:30, Altria Stage.