Mykal Rose | Credit: Courtesy

With ska, rock steady, dance hall, dub, and roots covering just some of its many subgenres, reggae comes in almost as many flavors as go into a jerk chicken recipe. On Friday, August 20, the fancifully named En Fuego Events team will bring one of reggae’s greatest singers to Elings Park for the second concert in their Evenings at Elings series. At 64, Grammy winner and international reggae superstar Mykal Rose has made countless recordings both under his own name and as a member of the legendary group Black Uhuru. As lead singer and chief songwriter for that group during its period of greatest acclaim, Rose was responsible for a number of hits, including the classic track “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner? (Natty Dreadlock).” Following 1980’s Sinsemilla and 1981’s Red, the band found themselves touring with the Rolling Stones and picking up the first-ever Grammy Award given in the reggae category for Anthem in 1985.

Rose left Black Uhuru after Anthem to retire to Jamaica’s Blue Mountains, where he began growing coffee. Five years later, he was back in the music business with a short-lived deal at major label RCA that resulted in one album. His longstanding and highly productive working relationship with rhythm section Sly and Robbie came to the rescue however, and Rose began releasing a series of singles and then albums with the indie reggae outfit Heartbeat Records. Visitors to the Evenings at Elings event can expect to hear great music not only from Rose, but also from local Santa Barbara reggae bands King Zero, Free Love Project, and DJ Marco. The event will be emceed by Winston the Cool Ruler from the Reggae Sound Clash and KjEE, and if you can’t make it this time, consider coming by on Friday, September 17, for Don Carlos, another reggae great and former member of Black Uhuru as well. Kids under 12 are admitted to the show free. For more information, visit

This edition of ON Culture was originally emailed to subscribers on June 7, 2024. To receive Leslie Dinaberg’s arts newsletter in your inbox on Fridays, sign up at


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