I cant Simmer Down, my blood boils Steel Pulse have no star
Posted on the 21st Jun 2014 in the category sport

Today I had the good fortune to attend the Simmer Down Festival press conference at the Drum as my role as roving reporter for Birmingham Live on Switch Radio.

Last year's festival was one of the best days of 2013, it was boiling hot and the atmosphere was beautiful.

This year's Simmer Down on Sunday, July 20 will be on another level because international reggae stars Steel Pulse are headlining with Apache Indian and Music Youth also on the bill.

Selwyn Brown and Amlak Tafari spoke wonderfully at the press conference about what it means to them to be playing in Handsworth Park for the first time in 30 years.

Multi-million record selling Apache Indian also spoke movingly too.

As well as saying performing in Handsworth with Steel Pulse will be one of the highlights of his 25 year career in showbusiness he brought up an injustice which really grinds my gears.

He said: “It is unbelievable Steel Pulse do not have a star on the Broad Street Walk of Stars, how can a band as big as Steel Pulse, who have put Birmingham on the map across the world, not have been offered a star?

They should be given one straight away.”

In an interview for Birmingham Live! (Switch Radio Tuesday nights at 7pm) The Drum's director of arts and marketing Mukhtar Dar said he is campaigning for the band to get a star.

He said: “Steel Pulse need to be recognised on the Broad Street Walk of Stars and we are doing everything we can to make it happen.

They are worldwide stars who have represented Birmingham all over the world for years and we need to put pressure on so they get their star.

We can collect thousands of signatures at the festival if that is what they need, we will not stop until they get a long overdue star on Broad Street.”

Music to my ears, on the Steve Zacharanda Radio Show two years ago, me and Gurdip launched a campaign to get Steel Pulse a star. Despite the raging popularity and cultural weight of our show the band still have not got a star.

Then last year, when I wrote a profile about the band for Birmingham Review, they very kindly let me write an editorial comment demanding The Broad Street Walk of Stars organisers pull their finger out.

Well, six month on here is what I think.

It is a travesty Steel Pulse have not yet been recognised on Birmingham's Broad Street Walk of Stars.

Especially as regional weatherman and sports reporter Gary Newbon has a star.

The band, who grew up in Birmingham unlike Leicester's Newbon and Wolverhampton's Beverley Knight who also has her own shiny pavement stone, put Brum on the map for music fans in countries who would never would have heard of the city otherwise.

OK, perhaps Gregory Hinds and Basil Gabbidon cannot conduct a windswept interview on the touchline on a Tuesday night for a League Cup highlights show. 

But has Gary Newbon ever fought against injustice, inspired a generation or performed in front of the most powerful man on earth? 

Has he ever won a Grammy? He might have appeared on The Big Match but he was never invited on to The Tonight Show. 

And as each day passes, and for every tourist who looks down at Gary Newbon's star and says "who?" the more of a joke the walk of stars becomes. It makes the city look a joke and Steel Pulse need to be offered a star now.

What's more itcould be the catalyst for one of the greatest homecoming concerts the city has ever seen, then again if they refused it who could blame them?

The Walk of Stars, which is modelled on Los Angeles iconic Walk of Fame, began with much fanfare in 2007 when Brummie icon Ozzy Osborne was given the first star.

Seven years later and it is fair to say some of the calibre of names on the stars are not as quite glittering as befits Birmingham.

Funded by the Broad Street Business Improvement District stars are given to “those people who have made a significant contribution in the categories of music, television, film, radio, theatre, sport, business and literacy.”

They don't actually have to be from Birmingham just “must have made a recognisable impact in their specialist category and performed at one of Birmingham’s major venues, including the ICC, NIA, Symphony Hall and The REP or be originally from the area or have prominent links with Birmingham and the Midlands.”

Perhaps that explains why famous none Brummies Beverley Knight (Wolverhampton), Noddy Holder (Walsall) and Lenny Henry (Dudley) have stars but Steel Pulse does not.

What is more worrying is that Steel Pulse have not even been included on the list of potential stars which includes Adrian Chiles and Cat Deeley, none of which have won a Grammy or stood up to repression.

The time has come to right this wrong, lets demand Steel Pulse get their giant contribution to reggae and social justice recognised on the Birmingham Walk of Stars.

It is very rare for all of the members of Steel Pulse, current and past, to be in Birmingham so unveil the star during Simmer Down weekend.

No excuses, no hiding behind corporate bulspeak, just do it.

Because if not, who knows maybe in true Handsworth Revolution direct action style someone might just paint a nice big graffiti star on the pavement anyway.

I'm guessing after an epoch-defining homecoming Steel Pulse performance at Simmer Down there might be a queue stretching back to the Soho Road of fans willing to do it!

Anyway, as the sadly departed Casey Kasum used to say: “Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars.”

Steve Zacharanda


International reggae star Amlak Tafari joins PBFM
Posted on the 4th Jun 2014 in the category sport

Perhaps you did not read our wonderful news in the Great Barr Observer last week so have a look at this - The Perry Barr Film and Music Festival has a bona fide star on board!


INTERNATIONAL reggae star Amlak Tafari, bass player with Steel Pulse, has joined the Perry Barr Film and Music Festival.

The popular musician is taking time out of his hectic touring schedule to help advise the musical direction of the festival.

Mr Tafari, who has been in the music business for 30 years, has also promised to open his contacts book out in a bid to lure some stars to perform at the festival.

Million record selling Steel Pulse are performing in Handsworth for the first time since the 1970s when they headline the Simmer Down festival in Handsworth Park on Sunday, July 21.

Mr Tafari, who grew up in Handsworth then moved to Perry Barr as a teenager, said: “The Perry Barr Film and Music Festival is a wonderful idea and I am happy to get involved.

The Simmer Down homecoming concert will be a wonderful day for all of us in the band and got me thinking about doing more projects in the area I grew up in so PBFM is a great way to do that.

We have a fantastic musical and film heritage in Perry Barr and it is about time we shouted about it.

The possibilities are endless for the festival and this will hopefully be the first of many throughout the years all of which bigger than the previous years.”

PBFM is being held between August 21-31 across multiple venues across Perry Barr and Birmingham.

The festival's founder former Observer reporter Adam Smith, who is also known as Steve Zacharanda, is delighted to have Amlak on board.

He said: “This is a dream come true for me and it is a massive coup for the festival to have someone with international musical pedigree to be involved.

I grew up in the same grove as Amlak and having a reggae star to look up and talk about music when I was a kid really meant a lot to me so now all these years later to be working with him on a project that is so positive for Perry Barr is wonderful.”


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