Real feast of reggae; jazz, classics, blues and roots.
TYNESIDE may appear to be an unlikely hotbed of reggae music but the third annual Boss Sounds Reggae Festival, taking place this weekend, proves just how popular it is.
There is another all-star line-up this year, perhaps even the best yet, over the two nights.
The live performances, however, take place at the Carling Academy tomorrow and Sunday with a 4pm start on both days.
Top of the bill on Saturday is the ex-Paragons vocalist and songwriter John Holt. While the Paragons were Jamaica's premier vocal group, Holt is probably best-known for his song The Tide Is High, which became a massive hit for Blondie.
One of his biggest successes, though, was his version of the Kris Kristofferson song Help Me Make It Through The Night, which made the UK top 10 in 1974.
Albums such as Holt, Still In Chains and 1,000 Volts Of Holt kept him in the spotlight and the late 90s effort New Horizon proved that he had lost none of his appeal.
Slightly younger than Holt is the guy known as the Cool Ruler, Gregory Isaacs, a man who has worked with all of the major reggae producers over a three-decade period.
In the 1970s he used his own label, African Museum, for his releases but later joined the majors like Virgin and Charisma. His 1982 album Night Nurse is probably still his best-known work with the title track - as covered by Simply Red - giving him a major international hit.
Maxwell Livingston Smith, Max Romeo to record buyers, started out in talent competitions.
He graduated via the Emotions to solo artist and top 10 status with the single Wet Dream, which was aided by a BBC radio-ban (it was, after all, still the 60s) in becoming a top 10 hit.
He had the help of Rolling Stone Keith Richard on his 1981 album Holding Out My Love To You. In the 1990s his work was introduced to a new market when his songs were sampled by Prodigy (Out Of Space) and producer Kanye West (Lucifer).
Rounding out the Saturday are Ernest Ranglin with Mafia & Fluxy and Massive Attack's Daddy G, who plays both nights.
Prince Buster, profiled here last week, heads another all-star bill on Sunday. The former Mr Rocksteady, Ken Boothe, started out with Alton Ellis in the Soul Vendors before conjuring a mainstream No 1 hit with the David Gates song Everything I Own.
Another mainstream success for Boothe, Crying Over You, was reused for a career retrospective double CD a few years ago.
Two prolific recording artists complete the bill. Dennis Alcapone (aka Dennis Smith), with more than 100 singles to his name, is joined by the mysteriously named Eek-A-Mouse!
Actually, there is no real mystery. Eek simply dispensed with his birth-name of Ripton Hylton and assumed the name of his favourite racehorse!
Included in his extensive list of releases is a version of Led Zeppelin's cod-reggae number, D'yer Maker. The ticket line for the Carling events is 0870 771 2000 with day tickets at pounds 25 or a special weekend ticket at pounds 40.
AWAY from reggae, there is another chance to catch the rocking Philadelphia six-piece Marah, at the Cluny tonight. The band has had a number of line-up changes but one stand-out performer on their third record, Float Away With The Friday Night Gods, was none other than Bruce Springsteen. Ticket info on (0191) 230 4474.
Sticking with uptempo sounds, the cracking blues singer/guitarist, Ian Parker, takes his band to the Blaydon RnB Club tomorrow night at the town's Sports & Social Club.
BACK at the Cluny, next Tuesday, is the prolific jazz/ambient saxophonist, Theo Travis, with his latest project, Double Talk.
The Birmingham-born, London-based leader has worked with many key jazz performers as well as prog-rockers, Gong and he recently replaced Elton Dean in Soft Machine Legacy.
ON WEDNESDAY night, the Sage's Hall One provides the setting for frequent visitor Beth Nielsen Chapman - this time with her full band - and the award-winning Scots Gaelic singer/multi-instrumentalist, Julie Fowlis.
ACROSS town on Thursday night, at the Irish Centre in Gallowgate, the Poozies are the guests. The quintet is still fronted by Karen Tweed's vibrant accordion.
WRITER OF HITS - Ken Boothe plays as part of the reggae festival on Sunday; VIBRANT - quintet the Poozies play the Tyneside Irish Centre