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New Kingston brings reggae sounds, family affair to Black Sheep

September 7, 2017 Updated: September 8, 2017 at 3:31 pm
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New Kingston is comprised of brothers Tahir, Courtney Jr., and Stephen Suckarie (pictured) along with their father, Courtney Panton Sr. and cousin Kris Harmon (not pictured)

If Bob Marley is the king of reggae, then Courtney Panton Sr. is the prince.

At least, that's the opinion of his son, Courtney Panton Jr., 30, drummer for the family-only band New Kingston. The two, along with Panton Sr.'s sons Tahir Panton, 29, (vocals and keyboards), Stephen Suckarie, 36, (vocals and guitar), and the boys' cousin Kris Harmon, 23, (percussion) make up the band.

"Just vibing with family is really cool," Panton Jr. said. "We do our best to get along. We all work it out for the better of the music."

Panton Sr., or "Pops" as his sons call him, inspired his sons to learn music as boys. He sings and plays bass in the band, which will stop at The Black Sheep on Saturday during a national tour that co-headlines with reggae act SpawnBreezie. The tour also stops in Grand Junction, Denver and Fort Collins.

"He's the foundation," Courtney Panton Jr. said of his dad. "We all input our experiences in sounds. Sometimes we have inspiration from our pops. Sometimes he'll come in with a fire line."

At the end of August, the Brooklyn-based reggae band released its latest album, "A Kingston Story: Come From Far" (Easy Star Records).

It's music that has the power to uplift you and get you moving - as reggae is known to do - but it also has meaning.

"The album just came out, and we're all on a super high," said Panton Jr. "The main message is, 'Look how far we've come, look how far we have to go.' We're looking back at life like, 'Wow, there's still a long road ahead.' Our music has that energy plus lyrical content. You'll come in, and you'll just feel that free-up."

Everyone in the band contributes to writing songs, he said.

A song on the new album that speaks to him is "Stereotypes." "It's about us leaving New York for the first time for California, because it's really a different world, where people try to put a title or a stigma on you that holds you out," he said. "That's our anthem, I'd call it. We want to break down all those gates and barriers."

The band previously visited Colorado, playing Red Rocks with Sublime and Rome last year and stopping in Colorado Springs' Sunshine Studios Live in November 2014 during a blizzard.

"There shouldn't be any snow this time," Panton Jr. said with a nervous chuckle. "We're just ready to play. I'm excited to come back to Colorado. There's just something about it."

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