psychedelic dub - with an edge
Psychedelic dub - with an edge...
Formed in 2009, freedubstar evolved out of Toronto's vibrant music scene as a dub-reggae collective, creating their own up-tempo dance-able grooves to classic reggae anthems and other recognizable top-40 tunes, while at the same time, writing and performing their own original material as well. The driving force behind freedubstar is the dedicated singer / songwriting duo of Michael Cooke on guitar & lead vocals and power-house drummer and singer - Derek Musgrave (aka. DeeLion)
After releasing their first full-length album in 2017, freedubstar was just getting touring around Ontario and Quebec, performing at festivals and venues, including Tyendinaga in 2019... just before the madness started... when music and singing came under attack. freedubstar's first appearance after 3 years of arguably illegal lock-downs etc... was at freedom-loving Soulshine Festival in 2022.
freedubstar was appropriately born during a jam, when Legendary Reggae Drummer Raffa Dean asked guitarist Michael Cooke if he could be interested in starting up a dub-reggae band... An almost rhetorical question to which the answer could only be "Yah man...!!! "
Raffa said he always wanted to call a band "Freedub...." because he said it sounded like "freedom." Without missing a beat, Michael said: "Put a 'Star' on the end of that and you've got yourself a great band name...!" Raffa loved the add-on and thus the band name freedubstar was created in under one minute... which is relatively unheard of in the biz. Raffa's reputation and connections made it easy to fill out the line-up with new members; like reggae royalty Mr. Garry Lowe from Big Sugar and reggae Keyboard Legend Bernie Pitters, who studied organ with Jackie Matoo, toured with Toots and the Maytals for over 10 years, and played with countless Jamaican artists including Gregory Isaacs, Leroy Sibbles, Glen Washington, Johnny Osbourne, Carol Brown, Jo Jo Bennet & John Holt. In fact, it has been said that certain artists touring from Jamaica in the 70's, 80's & 90's, wouldn't cross the border into Canada unless they could have Raffa on drums, Bernie on keys, and Garry on bass. Needless to say then, for Mr. Cooke, it was 'trial by fire' learning to play reggae from some of the best reggae musicians in the business - sometimes learning songs on stage while playing live...!
Unfortunately, Raffa passed away in 2014, but it was at Raffa's funeral and celebration of life that Michael Cooke met Raffa's friend and power-house drummer Derek "DeeLion" Musgrave - where they made a pact to keep the funk alive and continue on with the freedubstar project.
So the band played on. Michael & Derek continued working on recording an album until they got a call from percussionist Lucia Almeida, who offered them an opportunity to perform at her Fatima In The Alley venue in 2016 alongside Jazz Vibraphone Legend Mark Hundevad and Jazz Saxophone Legend Jim Heineman. freedubstar has also had the pleasure and the privilege of working with the great Dezi Fingers on keys, Megan Worthy, Dane Wedderburn on bass, Jose Calvete and the great Bryant Didier - who was at that first jam in 2009 - and continues to be one of Toronto's hardest working musicians and producers the city has to offer...!
Faced with the rising cost of Toronto rent and greedy landlords, Michael left the city and moved the studio up north to the Algonquin Park Area where the band recorded their first album in 2017 in a trailer with a cabin he built alongside with a wood stove for winters.
freedubstar is already working on songs for their next album and looking forward to touring a bit in Ontario this summer.