On “Life During Wartime,” the first single from Talking Heads’ 1979 album Fear of Music, David
Byrne famously sang the immortal lyrics, “This ain’t no party, this ain’t no disco…no time for
dancing…” Yet all those anti-fun declarations go gleefully out the window when Mystic Bowie,
aka the “Head Dread,” takes the stage, re-imagining and infusing fresh life into the Talking
Heads’ classic catalog with his high octane mix of roots reggae, ska and lover’s rock (aka
Since debuting his musically revolutionary Talking Dreads project live at the High Times Music
Festival on the beach in Negril in late 2015, the charismatic Jamaican-born singer and
performer has electrified audiences at more than 100 shows across North America – spinning
the heads of initially skeptical Talking Heads fans, and getting everyone else grooving along to
the infectious, joyous rhythms and jubilant spirit of his native island. Considering the success of
these events, it was only a matter of time before Bowie – who has lived in the Northeastern U.S.
for many years – headed back to his cherished homeland and set up shop at the famed Barry
O’Hare Studios in Ocho Rios. He gathered old friends he had played music with since
childhood, along with younger musicians, legendary Jamaican artists and other surprise guests
to capture all the magic of his live performances on the epic, 13 track recording Mystic Bowie’s
“Talking Dreads is much more than a cover band,” Mystic says. “I am very much drawing on my
own musical culture and history to make these amazing songs my own, while at the same time
preserving the integrity of the Talking Heads songs. I’ve always felt that reggae’s dance-
inspiring, feel good vibe is universal, as are many of the band’s songs. And don’t forget their
intelligent, powerful lyrics, which are fun to sing and shine fresh light on through this new fusion
of styles. It took a lot of effort to deconstruct and dissect each song to make it work seamlessly
with my singing and performance style. I removed all the instrumentation, kept the story and
words, then created my own reggae, Caribbean and tribal feel and married those two elements
– then brought back a few of the melodies that captured my attention back in the day.”
The release of the full length debut album titled MYSTIC BOWIE’S TALKING DREADS, will feature reggae
spins on classic Talking Heads songs, due June 15.
In conjunction with the album release, the group will hit the road with U.S. tour dates
starting May 24 in Buffalo, New York through September 2 in Salisbury, MA (with additional
dates to be announced).
The Talking Dreads album will feature a lineup of legendary reggae figures including singer
Freddie McGregor; ska guitar master Ernest Ranglin (Bob Marley, Jimmy Cliff and Monty
Alexander); Soul Train Award nominated Tarrus Riley (“Start Anew,” “Good Girl Gone Bad”);
and saxophone great Dean Fraser. The album also includes drummer Kirk Bennett and
Lincoln Thomas, McGregor’s longtime guitarist. Cindy Wilson of the B-52s special guests on
a duet with Mystic for “Heaven.”
As a former member of the Tom Tom Club, a band that included former Talking Heads
founders Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth, Mystic Bowie infuses fresh life into Talking
Heads’ classic catalog with his high octane mix of roots reggae, ska and lover’s rock.
The album will include 11 Talking Heads songs with Mystic’s own unique, Jamaica-fied spin;
plus two additional tracks, including: “Love Goes to Building On Fire,” “Slippery People”
(Feat. Tarrus Riley): “Burning Down The House,” “Houses In Motion,” “This Must Be The
Place,” “Once In A Lifetime,” “Pulled Up,” “Life During Wartime” (Feat. Freddie
McGregor); “Crosseyed And Painless;” Grateful Dead’s “Shakedown Street,” “Psycho
Killer,” “Piece of My Heart,” “Heaven” (Feat. Cindy Wilson).
Says Salon of a recent Talking Dreads live performance: “Talking Dreads covers Talking
Heads songs as shimmering one-drop reggae jewels…swapping out urbanity for roots and
Since introducing his musically revolutionary Talking Dreads project at the High Times Music
Festival in Negril in 2015, the Jamaican-born singer has performed at more than 100 shows
across North America – spinning the heads of initially skeptical Talking Heads fans, and getting
everyone grooving along to the rhythms and jubilant spirit of his native island.
Mystic’s close personal and professional relationship with Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth
began when he joined the Tom Tom Club as a singer in 1996. He appeared on their 2000
album THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE FUNKY and performed with them for nearly 20 years.
MYSTIC BOWIE’S TALKING DREADS current U.S. tour dates