Legendary reggae artist Pato Banton comes to Homer this week. Banton’s tour of Alaska begins at The Alibi tonight leading into a headlining performance at Ravenfest, a two-day music festival.
The music fest will be Friday and Saturday at the Ravenhouse Alaska Bed & Breakfast Rentals near Whiskey Gulch north of Anchor Point.
Pato Banton, whose name means “wise owl,” is originally from Birmingham, England. Born Patrick Murray, Banton was exposed to reggae and music from an early age. His stepfather was a Jamaican DJ, and their home came to be known as a popular spot to party on the weekend. Banton would serve as lookout for these, often illegal, house parties.
“You know because I was so small I was up late looking after (the parties),” Banton said in a recent phone interview. ”So I was called Pato, which is a small owl from Jamaica that comes out at night and goes ‘Patoo! Patoo!’”
When he auditioned for Fashion Records in the 1980s, he impressed the judges so thoroughly they dubbed him “Banton,” which means “story teller” and is considered a title of respect within DJ circles.
Pato Banton’s first album, “Mad Professor Captures Pato Banton,” was released in 1985. Over the decades, Banton and his music stayed both relevant and well received. His 2000 album “Life is A Miracle” earned a Grammy nomination.
“I think that’s because my music is about current issues, you know? My music talks about social issues, political issues … the problems that human beings face,” Banton said.
The message people take from his music is important to Banton, who considers himself a deeply spiritual person. In 2012 he released “The Word of Christ,” a seven CD trilogy based on the teachings of Jesus Christ found in the Urantia Book.
“I did religious studies for about 15 years. … and I got frustrated after awhile. I had a list of questions but I couldn’t find the answer. Then I found the Urantia Book and it answered every single question I ever had,” he said.
After releasing his third album, “Visions of the World,” in 1989, Banton went on tour with Ziggy Marley & The Melody Makers. This elevated him from the ranks of fledgling star to reggae legend and mainstay.
Banton topped the UK music charts when he teamed up with pop icon Sting for the single “This Cowboy Song.” The two talented musicians would collaborate again to remake the hit song by the Police, “Spirits in a Material World.” This song was featured on the soundtrack to the film “Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls.”
At Ravenfest, Banton and his band The Now Generation will be playing along with other bands including Raised By Humans, Uplift, Howlin’ Whales and others.
Ravenfest will celebrate the grand opening of the Ravenhouse Alaska Bed & Breakfast Rentals near Whiskey Gulch north of Anchor Point, said owner and festival organizer Andrew Pruitt.
The family friendly festival will feature play areas for children and a variety of music including reggae, folk and bluegrass.
The festival will not be Banton’s first visit to Alaska.
“Alaska is a wonderful place. I feel inspired while I am here, I enjoy coming back,” he said.
After Ravenfest, Pato will continue to travel on his tour, with his next show taking place in California.
Pato Banton will play at the Alibi at 10 tonight.
On Friday, he will headline the first night of Ravenfest, which runs through Saturday. Tickets for Ravenfest are available at the Homer Bookstore at $25 a day and $45 for the weekend.
Fermin Martinez is a freelance writer living in Homer.
Pato Banton and the Now Generation
When: 10 p.m. today
Where: The Alibi
Also plays: 8:30 p.m. Friday, Ravenfest 2015
When: Friday and Saturday
Gates open at 11 a.m. both days
Where: North of Anchor Point near Whiskey Gulch; follow signs
Friday acts: Zach Atchley, Howlin’ Whales, Roots Rock, Raised by Humans, Pato Banton and the Now Generation
Saturday acts: Mike Fairman, Hillary Arwen, English Bay Band, John Cottingham/Barrroom Roses, Firelight, Uplift and Tails and Tassels Burlesque (inside, 18 and older only)
Admission: $25 daily or $45 both days, on sale at the Homer Bookstore