All right Bend, if you were or are (for you youngsters reading) bumping any original reggae music in the '80s, you might understand the excitement and rarity happening here this month. After over 13 years since his last U.S. tour, the reggae legend Eek-A-Mouse graces the Domino Room stage May 13, and this surely isn't one to miss. Bonus points if you were at his show at the Domino Room in 2009.
Ripton Joseph Hylton, aka Eek-A-Mouse (aka The Black Cowboy) is known for his "Jun-glist" reggae music and at 65 years old is one of the first 'Singjay' performers — a Jamaican vocal style that rhythmically combines singing, chanting and "toasting" (developed in Jamaica) to reggae deejaying. His recognizable hits such as "Wa-Do-Wem" and "Ganja Smuggling" have almost 100 million listens combined on Spotify and over 700 monthly listeners total. Eek! Not bad! His first album, "Skidip," released in 1982, grants him a humble 42 years in the music industry, spreading reggae music straight from his roots in Kingston, Jamaica, where it all began.
It was in his hometown of Kingston where he met and grew up with Bob Marley. As Eek-A-Mouses's longtime friend, promoter and manager David Banuet told the Source Weekly, "He [Mouse] always shares stories about being at the house [Marley's] while waking up in the middle of the night, where Marley would get a band member and they'd start playing something and have Mouse start his voice with whatever idea or whatever song he had in his head."
Mouse also shared that he would sing for Bob Marley's kids, Ziggy and Steven Marley, when they'd come home from school and ask him to sing them a song.
He is a creative genius in his own right as his brain operates as a rhythmic poem that will shock your system even when having a casual conversation with him. Because having a casual conversation with Eek-A-Mouse is so casual, right? It's sort of like the most rhythmically inclined foreign language I've ever heard. They really should invent a transcribing app for Eek-A-Mouse in particular because I think we'd all learn a lot. I felt like I was listening to one of his songs just talking to him (while also trying to comprehend what he was saying).
"He's definitely a character. It's what makes him unique," Banuet continued, "When I asked him to get on Twitter he said, 'Twit-her? What about Twit-him?'"
"DING DING" is what popped up in my WhatsApp messages before my phone interview last weekend where Mouse rang in all the way from Stockholm, Sweden — where "the people are nice," said Mouse. And where he's been since the COVID lockdown. When I asked if he's excited to be coming back to Bend after performing at the Domino Room in 2009, he responded, "Oh yeah. I Bend backwards for Bend. I love Bend. It bends, but it don't break."
Joining Eek-A-Mouse is local reggae artist Jah Yogi. And don't forget to catch Eek-A-Mouse's new single, "She Feels It," featuring Irie Ites, released earlier this year in addition to "You Soon Come a Road," which includes the lyrics, "Desperate challenges give me no sandwiches."