by Jim Ridley
A dreadlocked giant with wide-ranging talent and great reserves of charm, Himons had been a child prodigy in the 1940s, a doo-wop vocalist in the ’50s, a soul singer in the ’60s and a bluesman in the ’70s before having an epiphany late that decade at a Bob Marley concert. The reggae group that resulted, Afrikan Dreamland, was one of the seminal indie bands on Nashville's club scene. Sanders, a longtime observer of the city's clubs, sets the scene:
To say that Afrikan Dreamland stood out, even among Nashville's burgeoning punk and college-radio scene of the early 1980s, is beyond understatement. Fueled by a high-stamina live show, they soon became one of the city's most popular acts, drawing large, enthusiastic crowds who danced nonstop to the group's irie rhythms. Before disbanding in 1987, they became the first American reggae group to get a video on MTV ("Television Dreams" in 1984) as well as the first Nashville-based act to release a video album (Apartheid Kills in 1985). They were also the first act in the city to mix drum machines with live drums.
But of course, nothing topped the spectacle of a larger-than-life reggae-soul shaman before throngs of adoring Vandy frat kids. A new day had dawned in Music City.
It's a piece that'll probably have a lot of people agreeing with veteran music scribe Robert K. Oermann's assessment: "They made me proud to be a Nashvillian."
UPDATE: Here's the link Nashville Jumps host Pete Wilson posted on the Nashville Cream thread, which will let you hear a rare 1960s R&B side Himons recorded under his "Little Archie" moniker.