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Season two for the Rhythm Express has seen an alteration in the front line with the addition of former girl group member - Sugar Jones, winners of the first season of Popstars in 2001 – Maiko Watson. Sugar Jones scored a #1 hit in Canada with “Day’s Like This” and has sold over 200,000 recordings.

With the relocation of supreme frontline vocalist/guitarist Selena Evangeline to London, England the call went out for a side-mate to compliment the steady presence of singers Michael Dunston and Ammoye Evans. Express drummer Everton “Pablo” Paul consulted with daughter Liza Paul, a gifted playwright /performing artist herself and Maiko’s name was put forward.

First season the Express explored the voluptuous catalogue of ska, reggae, funk, soul and New Orleans classics. Year two – it’s all about the originals - a band caught up writing their own material. Watson not only brings a voice packed with punch, clarity, big soul and immediacy - she’s also a gifted composer/writer. Evidence of that is the universally accepted – Soul Nation – lyric scripted with partner Michael Dunston – another member of the Express with a flair for writing on point, additionally expressed in his timely message in Black Lives Matter/The Ghetto – from 2015.

Recently, the rhythm section caught fire with the original, “Welcome to Funkastan,” a throw-back to the James Brown/Sly & Family Stone, Earth Wind & Fire era.

Singer Ammoye is riding the number #1 position on the reggae charts with “Sorry.” Jesse “Dubmatix” has been touring, a big presence in the European reggae circuit – both as a performer and producer.

For the Express, it’s all about the studio - that one new single each month.

Entering June we have a gem, “Day in May” a collective write between rhythm section and Watson. Maiko sculpted a gorgeous neo-soul melody and poignant lyrics over a rhythm/chord base. It all starts with the four-piece; an idea, a scrap of paper, a feel and then turned over to the front line. Day in May is both sensual and timely. It’s the seasons in big change; rebirth, empowerment, the flowering of new relationships - resolution!

Set free, Watson pushes the harmonic structure with vocals vertically stacked over free-flowing melodic motifs that weave, intersect and cross one another – having more to do with a finely crafted jazz solo than contrived radio fare. This doesn’t mean it doesn’t fit radio – on the contrary. With summer’s heat and long restful nights, tempos slow and melt into an aural/visual mix.

You can catch the Rhythm Express at the TD Jazz Festival June 25, 2016 – 12:30 p.m. Nathan Phillips Square. Joining the front line, singer/songwriter extraordinaire Julian Taylor!

credits

released May 26, 2016
Lead vocal/backgrounds Maiko Watson
Executive Producer/drums: Everton “Pablo” Paul
Producer/arranger/keys: Bill King
Engineer/guitar: Shane “Shakey J” Forrest
Graphic Design/bass: Jesse “Dubmatix” King
Day in May: Lyrics Maiko Watson - Composed: Watson, Bill King, Everton Paul, Shane Forrest, Jesse King.

7 Arts/ Side Door records

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