Thursday, February 13, 2020

OG reggae upsetter Lee "Scratch" Perry plays Orlando fresh on heels of his first Billboard No. 1 spot ever

Posted By on Thu, Feb 13, 2020 at 12:02 PM

click to enlarge Lee "Scratch" Perry
  • Lee "Scratch" Perry
Lee “Scratch” Perry and Jah Steve & the Counteract Crew at the Social, Feb. 11

A few others may be able to also qualify as a living musical legend, but absolutely no one save for the singular Lee “Scratch” Perry can claim to be the freak lion king of reggae’s wild side. Lacing the institution’s sacramental ganja with psychedelic flair, his tripped-out tendencies have warped the edges of reggae for over a half century. A figure as visionary as he is outlandish, Perry’s influence has profound historical reach far beyond his native reggae and on into the worlds of electronic and post-punk music.

  • via official Lee "Scratch" Perry Facebook
  • Lee "Scratch" Perry
There’s a pileup of reasons to hope his latest Orlando appearance would lean more dub than straight reggae. As a certified pioneer in the genre, dub is where Scratch’s brilliant living color shines brightest and weirdest. Besides that, though, he’s arriving on the momentum of the recently released Heavy Rain. The dub counterpart to his other strong 2019 album, Rainford, it’s a work that’s not only superior but has scored the octogenarian the first ever Billboard No. 1 (Reggae Albums Chart) of his 60-year career.

click to enlarge Lee "Scratch" Perry at the Social - BAO LE-HUU
  • Bao Le-Huu
  • Lee "Scratch" Perry at the Social
Well, dub is indeed mostly how Perry’s show skewed, with the band holding down the groove deep and steady while he dropped his outer-orbit, stream-of-consciousness vocalizations in smoke-thick reverb.

click to enlarge Jah Steve & the Counteract Crew at the Social - BAO LE-HUU
  • Bao Le-Huu
  • Jah Steve & the Counteract Crew at the Social
That band was Jah Steve & the Counteract Crew, a trad-reggae group from South Florida that’s backing and opening up for Perry on the Florida leg of this tour. They’re a solid unit that gave sturdy frame for the original Upsetter to just be his flamboyant, eccentric self and hold court. And so we basked in the strange radiance of a true outsider icon. Shine on, Scratch.

click to enlarge Lee "Scratch" Perry at the Social - BAO LE-HUU
  • Bao Le-Huu
  • Lee "Scratch" Perry at the Social
click to enlarge Lee "Scratch" Perry at the Social - BAO LE-HUU
  • Bao Le-Huu
  • Lee "Scratch" Perry at the Social

Follow Bao on Twitter (@baolehuu)
Email Bao:

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Orlando Weekly. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Orlando Weekly, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Orlando Weekly works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Central Florida.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Orlando’s true free press free.

Related Locations


Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Read the Digital Print Issue

January 13, 2020

View more issues


© 2021 Orlando Weekly

Website powered by Foundation