“Forward Ever” is a new Third Thursday monthly reggae night at Café Bourbon Street that sets off Thursday, January 23. Flipp-A, Jah Shaolin, Timothy Blender, Ashley, DJ Johnny Bananas and host Mario Rankin are the driving forces behind “Forward Ever.” Jah Shaolin said the goal of “Forward Ever” is to “spotlight the broad spectrum of Jamaican music for both reggae fans and novices alike.” Jah added, “I will focus on the 70s and 90s for this night. Tim & Flip have the 80s covered, Johnny loves early reggae (60s-70s), and Ashley loves roots reggae in general.” Ashley is a 20 year-old man from Zimbabwe who connected with the other guys at the Israel Vibration Show at Al Rosa Villa on March 07, 2013 and by shopping at Roots. Eventually, they all bonded performing at Chef Orlando’s Bistro on Shrock Road. When asked how he got into reggae, Ashley responded matter-of-factly, “I grew up on it.” Ashley got into deejaying because artists he likes such as Dennis Brown, Hugh Mundell and Junior Clark 's music was primarily available on vinyl when he moved to Columbus, saying, “Vinyl was limited. It was the way to check it out. The only way you can play vinyl -deejay-wise- to express your collection of music.” Well, I was at that Israel Vibration show to check Flipp-A because I knew him back in his days of being a heavy influence on Columbus graffiti in the early 90s. Flip was playing Digital Dancehall, a genre of reggae from the mid 80’s made with computers and drum machines whose era ended in the early 90s when Ragga became popular. When Flip was in High School here in central Ohio, he befriended a writer named Bluster FC/TC5 from the Lower East Side of New York City who was attending CCAD. “We became friends but it was through graffiti. I may have crossed him out or something. I was jealous there was a more talented writer. Those actions are what led us to become buddies.” Flip and Bluster would attend reggae parties at defunct reggae store Negus Negast because Bluster lived on Oak Street in 1990. “So we would walk on down. It didn’t matter that I wasn’t a black kid nor was I 18. They didn’t really care. Everyone was nice to me. ” Flip had an authentic straight letter style that was really influential due to its classic flavor. One artistic highlight happened when Flip was in Bronx legend Phase Two’s proto-graffiti magazine, the International Graffiti Times back in the day. Flip explained to me when and how a kid from Columbus, Ohio ended up in such a revered publication. “1992 at the New Music Seminar. I was standing in line…It was the DMC Battle for World Supremacy that year. Oddly enough, I ran into a guy name Toneboots that went to OSU but he was out there. Our conversation was graffiti based, another guy turns around and started chatting with us. His name was Lonny Wood but most people know him as Phase 2. It was just a chance or a fluke. I managed to get some photos to them and they printed them.” In 2014 Flip might not be out there trying to be the king of graffiti he still keeps in touch with Bluster. “Last time I was out in the city, we had a magical time. We had some High-grades and a Deadly Dragon mix. Let me give experience some credit about getting rid of compact discs, and going straight vinyl.” Forward Ever is a vinyl only night. The host of the evening in front of the “selectors” will be Mario Rankin. In reggae, the MC or host is called a “Deejay” but I will only say this once to avoid confusion. The host talks in a rapid-fire manner known as “chatting” or “toasting” over the music. Mario is a Columbus Native who talks with a very Columbus accent, so to hear him switch up and chat in Jamaican patois is something special. He credits the reggae community in Columbus for his ability to “toast” authentically. “When I got introduced to Jah-Tee. He introduced me to the culture. He told me this is the way I am really supposed to be talking.” Mario has been “toasting” for seven or eight years as a regular at the Flex Crew Nights at both Little Brothers and Skully’s. As far as Mario’s approach to hosting an event like “Forward Ever,” “Deal with the vibe that is going on. Mic is open. The music is playing. I just say stuff according to what the music is saying. I might make my own ad lib to what the music is playing over there, just like they would in Jamaica.“

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