The singing drummer is troddin’. San Francisco, San Jose, Santa Cruz, Los Angeles, Oakland, Mendocino, San Pablo, Willits, Santa Rosa, Ukiah, then Boston, Miami. Lutan Fyah tonight. The Whiskey Avengers tomorrow. The singing drummer just keep troddin’. That Bloodline keeps him troddin’. The road is always tough but “Rub a Dub Have The Power” – that’s what he say.
Wilburn Anthony “Squidly” Cole is on the California leg of his North American tour to support his new album Bloodline. Who is Squidly Cole, you say – this singing drummer? Squidly Cole is a drummer, songwriter, producer and now, singer. Cole is not just any drummer, but the drummer who recorded the demo for Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers‘ Grammy Award-winning Conscious Party and laid down the wickedest reggae riddims of the late 1980′s and early 1990′s on ZM&MM‘s classic, Grammy Award-winning albums Conscious Party and One Bright Day.
Squidly Cole, along with bassist Chris Meredith, was the backbone of the Grammy Award-winning Melody Makers – Conscious Party, Jahmekya, Joy and Blues, Free Like We Want 2 Be – there’s Squidly Cole “Beating Up Di Drum Again.” The list goes on to include most of ZM&MM albums plus Stephen Marley‘s Grammy Award-nominated Mind Control and Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley’s Welcome to Jamrock. In fact, he has been the go-to drummer for the Marley family for more than 20 years. A member of the Stephen Marley Band, Squidly traveled the world in 2007 in support of Stephen’s debut album Mind Control, and returned just yesterday from a tour in support of Stephen’s Revelation Pt. 1: The Root of Life. He has played among many of the greatest Jamaican musicians including Mykal Rose, the Marley Brothers, Jimmy Cliff, Mikey General, Luciano, The Itals, Rita Marley, Gyptian, Capleton, Sizzla, Chuck Fenda, Etana, Buju Banton, Don Carlos, Dennis Brown, and Junior Reid just to name a few. Add to that list Alborosie, Bobby Digital, Mad Lion, KRS One, Sugar Minott, Anthony Cruz, Richie Spice, Terry Linen, Lady Saw, King Jammy’s, and Jon Jon Productions and you’ve got a virtual who’s who of popular reggae, dancehall, and hip-hop artists. Cole has crossed genres to support R&B and hip-hop musicians including Lauryn Hill, Amy Winehouse, Joss Stone, Bobby Digital, Trina Broussard, and many more. He currently runs his own recording studio, 100 Studio, which features the best blend of roots reggae culture and dancehall music from both seasoned musicians and the best of Jamaica’s up and coming talent.
Squidly made his debut in 1980 at the age of 13 playing drums on ”Black Black Roses” with Barrington Levy for Channel One Studio. At the age of 14, Squidly auditioned for legendary reggae artist and Rock & Roll Hall of Famer Jimmy Cliff, resulting in a world tour to Europe and Africa. After touring for several years with Mykal Rose, formerly of Black Uhuru, and Dub Poet Mutabaruka, Squidly joined Ziggy Marley‘s backing band in 1988, the Grammy Award-winning Melody Makers consisting of several of Jamaica’s most gifted musicians including, Sticky Thompson, Franklyn “Bubbler” Waul, Earl “Chinna” Smith, and Christopher Meredith. The run he made with ZM&MM spanned nearly 20 years and is marked by legendary performances all over the world along with several Grammy Award-winning albums.
In 1992, Cole produced Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley‘s smash hit “Me Name Junior Gong” on Damian’s debut album Mr. Marley. He also recorded “Arm Your Soul” and “Lion In The Morning” on Julian Marley‘s debut album Lion In The Morning. In 1998, he and Christopher Meredith co-produced Lauryn Hill’s retelling of the Bob Marley and the Wailers‘ classic love song “Turn Your Lights Down Low” for Chant Down Babylon, an album in which famous Bob Marley songs were remixed with contemporary artists. The album was a smash hit, achieving platinum sales and the track “Turn Your Lights Down Low” was released as the single and music video for the album. Squidly’s work with Lauryn Hill on Chant Down Babylon led him to record Hill’s debut The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill, an album that garnered ten Grammy nominations at the 41st Grammy Awards, winning five, making Hill the first female recording artist to receive that number of nominations, as well as awards in one night.
In 2001, Squidly teamed up with the Marley brothers once again to record Damian “Jr. Gong Marley’s Halfway Tree. The album was released on September 11, 2001 and received the 2002 Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album. It was co-produced by Damian Marley and his brother Stephen Marley. He also appeared on Sizzla’s Da Real Thing in 2002. He beat up de drum again in 2007 ‘pon Kymani Marley’s surprise hit “Hustler” off of the album Radio. In 2010, Squidly appeared on Buju Banton’s Grammy Award-winning album Before The Dawn.
It’s not hard to understand from where Squidly Cole gets his talent. He’s got the Bloodline of “StrangeJah” Cole and Donald “Tabby” Shaw, aka Tabby Diamond, running through his veins. Lion’s blood. His father, Wilburn Theodore “StrangeJah” Cole is a Jamaican vocalist whose career spans over 40 years. He is perhaps best known for being one of the founders of the Rocksteady movement in 1960′s Jamaica. Cole’s uncle, “Tabby” Diamond is a founding member of the legendary Jamaican harmony trio The Mighty Diamonds. The Mighty Diamonds are perhaps the greatest harmony collective to ever come out of Jamaica, responsible for classics like “Go Seek Your Rights” and “I Need A Roof.“ With a pedigree like that, the drummer was bound to end up behind the microphone. It Was Written.
Squidly Cole’s new album Bloodline has been well received among reggae artists, fans, and critics alike. The follow-up to his smash debut Babylon Days, Bloodline is an uncompromising album that features a perfect mix of roots reggae, dancehall, and hip-hop. The album contains 16 blazing tracks including, “Can’t Sit Down”, a jumpy, drum-heavy, danceable fusion of dancehall and hip-hop featuring a spitfyah Sizzla Kalonji. The title track is an uptempo tune with an R&B feel featuring the graceful voices of “StrangeJah” Cole and “Tabby” Diamond. In my opinion, the standout track is the rootsy “Words to Survive”, a purist reggae tune which hearkens the heyday of rockers. “Is This The Way” is an unrequited love tune reminiscent of a classic Gregory Isaac’s lover’s rock standard. On Bloodline Squidly Cole explores classical themes of black survival, love, life and death, oneness, and Rastafari culture. Squidly Cole’s voice is strikingly melodic, riding each melody as tight as the most righteously rolled spliff. Who would expect different with a “Bloodline” like Cole’s?
Bloodline is a modern roots reggae album with influences from roots and culture, dancehall, hip-hop, R&B, and dub. In a time when the market is hyper-saturated with popular, but soul-less Americanized reggae, Bloodline is a Jamaican album that we need to hear. Much like Stephen Marley’s modern classic Revelation Pt. 1: The Root of Life, Bloodline contains just-the-right meld of roots, dancehall, hip-hop and R&B. Squidly lays it out for all to hear: his past; his fears; his hopes; his dreams. And we like what we hear. An uncompromising album from an uncompromising artist. So let me ask you: “Got That Bloodline?”
Squidly Cole “Tell U How I Love You”
Squidly Cole “Life Is Not For U Alone”
Squidly Cole Live with SOJA “War And Violence”
Squidly Cole w/ Stephen Marley Lowlands, Netherlands August 20, 2011
Squidly Cole Live on Hype TV January 31, 2012
Squidly Cole is currently booking U.S. shows in support of his album Bloodline to begin March 5, 2012. Booking agents may contact the artist at firstname.lastname@example.org for booking.