Steel Pulse, David Hinds back onstage at Crystal Bay

David Hinds
David Hinds at the Catalyst Club in Santa Cruz.

Editor’s note: This story was first posted in Summer 2016.

The Steel Pulse appearance at Lake Tahoe is extra special considering founding member David “Dread” Hinds’ health scare.

The 41-year-old British reggae band canceled a winter tour, which included a January date in Reno, when Hinds was hospitalized with pneumonia.

“He’s doing a lot better … compared to what he’s been gone through,” said keyboarist-singer Selwyn “Bumbo” Brown. “We almost lost him.”

Steel Pulse will perform at 9 p.m. Wednesday in the Crystal Bay Casino’s recently expanded Crown Room. The show is expected to be sold out.

Would Steel Pulse have continued without Hinds?

Steel Pulse
David “Dread” Hinds, left, and Selwyn Brown of Steel Pulse.

“That’s the first time anybody’s asked me that question,” said Brown, who joined the band in 1977, two years after its inception. “That’s a hard question to answer because we’ve been in situations in the last year where he’s been sick on tour and lost his voice and then I took over on the vocals for those shows. So we fulfilled those obligations that we had as musicians. So I’ve done it before but after that situation, that’s a question I can’t really answer.”

Thankfully, the question doesn’t need to be answered.

For decades, Steel Pulse has delivered consciously reasoned messages and views through its roots reggae music. It formed in the Handsworth neighborhood of Birmingham, a city in England that parallels with Kingston, Jamaica in its poverty and strife. As Bob Marley rarely performed in his home country Jamaica, Steel Pulse hardly plays in the United Kingdom.

“Dreadtown,” a fan-funded documentary narrated by actor Danny Glover about the band and the issues it addresses in songs, has been in the works for several years. Brown said the producer has targeted a December release.

In recent years, Steel Pulse has released songs about the killing of blacks in the United States, such as Trayvon Martin (“Put Your Hoodies On”) and Eric Garner (“I Can’t Breathe”).

Earlier this month, the band released a song (Nations of the World) from its upcoming album, noting the 80th anniversary of Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie’s address to the League of Nations. It was during a time of slave trade and colonialism and when Ethiopia survived attacks from Italyand became a charter member of the United Nations.

The song is timely because England recently voted to exit the European Union.

“To me, it’s just the latest line in the game that the powers that be play,” Brown said. “… whatever plan they’ve got for the New World Order … it’s not going to change it, either way. So, I myself, I’m not panicking. People should go about things as they did before as far as their ambitions and their family, that shouldn’t change. What I think of this whole thing is that it’s part of the game that they’ve been playing from Day 1 so the few who have the wealth can keep the wealth.

“What I don’t agree with is the way that the English government just threw this on to the people. How can you say to the people that the most important decision … How can you leave that vote to the people and not even explain the implications? That’s my problem with the whole thing.”

    • Steel Pulse
      Opener: Dub Fyah
      When: 9 p.m. Wednesday, July 27
      Where: Crystal Bay Casino’s Crown Room
      Tickets: $25 in advance or $30 on the day of the show
      Red Room after-party: Samily Man vs. The Umpires

ABOUT Tim Parsons

Tim Parsons
Tim Parsons is the editor of Tahoe Onstage who first moved to Lake Tahoe in 1992. Before starting Tahoe Onstage in 2013, he worked for 29 years at newspapers, including the Tahoe Daily Tribune, Eureka Times-Standard and Contra Costa Times. He was the recipient of the 2011 Keeping the Blues Alive award for Journalism.

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