Joseph Israel performs Saturday at Stickyz pic

  • Joseph Israel performs Saturday at Stickyz.

9 p.m. Stickyz. $8 adv., $10 day of.


So a few years ago, I was living in Fayetteville and I walked into the natural foods store to buy some organic Cheetos or something, and I look up and there’s standing Earl “Chinna” Smith. No exaggeration: The man played on like half the reggae albums I own. Probably more than half now that I think about it. I-Roy, Burning Spear, Toots & The Maytals, Big Youth, Dillinger, Max Romeo, The Upsetters, Scientist, The Mighty Diamonds, Augustus Pablo — the list goes on seemingly forever of albums to which Smith contributed his versatile, snaky guitar playing. I think it would be fair to say that he’s the king of reggae session guitarists.

So why was he was standing in a hippie “co-op” in Arkansas, looking around like, what is this place? He was in town because he’d hooked up with Joseph Fennell, a.k.a. Joseph Israel, a guy from Fayetteville whose dad owns some popular restaurants. Israel loved reggae so much he grew out dreads and started talking with a patois and converted to Rastafarianism (he also quotes the Bible a lot on his Facebook). Oh, and he went down to Kingston and recorded at Tuff Gong and actually did a duet with Luciano and Dean Fraser (which isn’t too bad). He’s got a new album out called “Kingdom Road” and … I don’t know, it’s all just so weird.


There was this bizarre Fayetteville thing going on for a while where these people from Arkansas were all “Jah” this and “Irie” that and “I and I gon’ chant down Babylon” or whatever and lots of us were all like, “Ha-ha, whatever poseurs.” But then one of them actually became a somewhat notable reggae artist. He put out an album on Universal a few years ago. He’s on a compilation album for children called “Songs for the Car,” alongside Billy Ray Cyrus and Smashmouth and Hanson and Patti LaBelle. Just, weird.