On the second track of Mishka’s 2009 album Above the Bones, the international reggae sensation announces, “Here comes that train again.”
Not a moment too soon for Martha’s Vineyard, where there’s been a 30-year delay.
Mishka, who hasn’t been to the Island since he was five or six, will be opening for surf-rocker Donavon Frankenreiter July 25 at Nectar’s.
Mishka’s tour of the U.S. — which has dragged him from Denver to Edgartown — wraps up at night’s end. The moment will offer him an opportunity to reflect on a couple years that have yielded two chart-topping albums, a major clothing endorsement, and extensive world-touring. Mishka says that he’s excited to see “a few friends from years past” who plan on attending the show.
“It’s definitely going to be a good time,” he says and chuckles.
Mishka spent most of his childhood sailing around the Caribbean with his parents, who landed him on the Vineyard long ago. Listening to a small cassette player on the boat, he was exposed to The Beatles and The Police. It wasn’t until Mishka discovered reggae, however, that he found his true calling.
“[W]hen I heard Burning Spear, Culture, and Bob Marley, I got addicted to roots reggae,” he says on his website.
With a blend of reggae, folk, soul, and rock, Mishka released his self-titled debut album in 1999, which saw its lead single “Give You All the Love” work its way into the top ten of Japan’s singles chart.
In 2006, actor Matthew McConaughey signed Mishka to his new label, j.k. livin.
“I have a lot of gratitude for someone who gets the message and appreciates my music,” Mishka says of Mr. McConaughey. “He wanted to create a record label to help me get my music out. It’s been a bit of a learning curve for both of us.”
Mr. McConaughey contributed to production on Bones, Mishka’s third studio album. Released in February 2009, the record debuted at number one on the Billboard reggae charts. That same year, iTunes named Mishka “Best New Artist” in its singer/songwriter category.
Following an “exhaustive world tour,” Mishka released his most recent album Talk About on March 30, and has been touring the states ever since. Upon its debut, Talk About landed at number one on iTunes’s reggae chart.
A chance encounter with the CEO of O’Neill — a surfboard and clothing company based in San Francisco — led to Mishka’s designation as the face of the brand’s new eco-friendly clothing line. The ECO’Neill Men’s Collection features tee-shirts, tanks, and hats made of 100 percent organic cotton and board shorts composed of plastic bottles and other recycled materials. Mishka says that his partnership with O’Neill has been a natural fit given his past experience competing at the windsurfing world championships in the early 90s.
“I’m really into windsurfing and water sports in general,” he says. “It’s been beneficial for the both of us. It’s been really nice working with them.”
Mishka has enjoyed another natural fit touring the U.S. this year with Mr. Frankenreiter.
“He’s a wonderful cat, a really down-to-earth person,” Mishka says. “We’re having a really good time.”
Their Nectar’s show begins at 9:30 pm. Tickets are on sale for $25, and the show is 21+.
Nectar’s will also host hip-hop stalwart Arrested Development July 24 at 9:30 pm. While Mishka was catching waves in the early 90s, AD won two Grammy Awards (for Best New Artist and Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group) on the heels of its debut album 3 Years, 5 Months & 2 Days in the Life Of… The album saw tracks “People Everyday,” “Tennessee,” and “Mr. Wendal” go number one on various Billboard charts.
Alexander Budney, a promotions manager at Nectar’s, describes AD’s music as “top-notch” and says, “Their music seems socially conscious… A lot of people relate to their message.”
Nectar’s has made an effort to offer a wide variety of live shows for Island audiences. The venue has hosted acts this season with styles ranging from reggae to hip-hop to indie rock.
“We’re definitely striving to appeal to as many people as we can,” Mr. Budney says. “We hope people come out and have a good time.”
The AD show is also 21+, and costs $25 at the door.
For more information, visit nectarsmv.com or call 508-693-1137.
Max Orenstein is a recent graduate of La Salle University in Philadelphia, Penn., currently living in Edgartown.