The Teskey Brothers like to take their time. That’s not to say they’re running late for our interview: quite the contrary, they were both bang on schedule for this Zoom conversation, despite one of them, Sam, being in Gloucestershire while the other, Josh, was speaking to me from a very sunny Portugal. [I know: the wonders of modern tech, etc.]
No, what I mean is, the soulful brothers Teskey, recently headlining up and down this country throughout April and May [and soon to return], like to practice what is generally known as ‘slow touring’. The essence of the latter being, rather than running through [say] a dozen dates across little over two weeks, playing pretty much night-after-night and ending up exhausted by the process, instead these days they spread out the schedule, do a couple of gigs at a time, take a few days off to recover and spend some downtime either with family or sightseeing. Then, maybe a week later, they’ll bang in another three shows, perhaps over a weekend… and generally pace themselves.
An anniversary is a key marketing tool in any business. Survival, after all, is a form of success. Sticking around for two dynamic decades deserves a party, as Jazz re:freshed, one of the most imaginative promoters of black music in Britain, will tell you. But amid the popping of champagne corks there is still a drumbeat of discipline that keeps everybody on the one. There are always things that need to be done.
“I think with us, it’s like you’re constantly moving,” says JRF’s Adam Moses.
There’s been much talk in reggae circles expressing concern that the music coming from Jamaica no longer sounds like authentic reggae or dancehall, and that it’s too heavily influenced by trap, Afrobeats and whatever else is fashionable right now. The new music’s detractors worry that fans of traditional reggae are now looking to labels in Europe and elsewhere for the type of recordings they want to hear, and that Jamaica is no longer first choice for the music that Bob Marley and other pioneers introduced to the world. So there’s a delicious irony in the fact that one of the main standard bearers for authentic reggae on the island these days is a white Sicilian who’s lived there for many years and whose entire career has been devoted to promoting the real sounds and cultural mores of his adopted homeland.
Alborosie’s latest album Destiny is a case in point, as it’s a total affirmation of what reggae music stands for in the hearts and minds of its grassroots followers.
Neil Jones is from Sutton Coldfield and supports Manchester United. Neil Sheasby is an Atherstone lad who loves Leeds. Somehow, they’re not only best mates but have just done a quarter century in a band together. They’re as astonished as anybody.
“If you’d told me, aged 14, I’d still even be playing at 55, I wouldn’t have thought that could be reality,” says Sheasby of Stone Foundation’s 25th anniversary on June 30. “But I don’t think you ever look back, do you? You never count the years; you just pile on forwards to the next thing.”
“Our time’s always taken up just writing and recording, doing demos… as we are now,” adds Jones. “We haven’t even put this anniversary record out and we’ve got about 12 or 14 demos for new stuff lined up.”