This Reno reggae star was born in Barbados in 1962, lived in St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands and first arrived in Reno in 1981. Interested in restaurant management, he began his time here working in casinos in the food-service industry as a busboy. Soon, though, he moved back east, where, through the inspiration of his friends, the Anthony Blackman Reno knows was born.
What kind of work were you doing when you first arrived in Reno?
Back then, I was working in the casinos. … I left Reno in 1984 and went to New York and Boston, and that’s when I started to run into old friends from school and back home and stuff like that. I had the jheri curls. They thought I was crazy and being an American, instead of being a West Indian, I figured that was time to take charge and grab the identity that was created for me. I started DJing in Boston after being in New York with my sister for a year; I moved to Boston with another sister and started DJing there. I realized if this was something I wanted to be doing, I should head back west to Reno. I returned to Reno in 1990, and Bruce Van Dyke [at KTHX] started to call me up shortly after that, and we used to do the Rastaman thing, and he’d make it seem like he called Jamaica. (Laughs). I would just get on the phone and say, “Ya mon, everything is nice and positive,” and just do up the whole Jamaican thing. About a year after doing that, I started DJing at the Beer Barrel. I don’t know if you remember that.
I remember the Beer Barrel. I threw up in that joint.
So I started DJing at the Beer Barrel at $1 a head. My first show, I brought in $402. Everybody thought that was amazing. Reggae night in Reno pretty much started then. … Then I jumped over to the Zephyr Bar. Then Bruce came in the Zephyr Bar one night and offered me an hour on the radio. I had the opportunity then to really share something true. Something real. I took the radio show, and I did that for 10 and one-half years.
What was the name of that show?
“The Positive Hour” on the X.
Didn’t you play with some bands?
I was told that I started the first reggae band out of Reno, which we called Serious Ting, with Tracy Moore, “Too Dread,” who is the DJ now at KTHX. Anthony Postmon, who is at KUNR, he was also a part of that. … That band fell apart, and then we came up with another group. Some of the same guys, some different. We called that band Soul Libation. I was booking shows in town, and I joined up with Renegade. … I was booking shows at the Ice House, which is now the Spice House.
And something else since then. That was the late ‘80s right?
I started in the early ‘90s. I was doing a reggae thing there. I booked Shiloh, who was “Quino,” who is now Big Mountain—a big name in the industry. Rob came down with those guys. He saw what we were doing in Reno, and we teamed up and brought The Wailers to the Peppermill. And pretty much the rest is history.
And now you are into T-shirts, a clothing line? How are you doing that?
New technology. It’s called, “Direct to garment.” It’s digital printing. It’s a little different from a silkscreen. I get the image in PhotoShop in jpeg and hit “print.”
Not to be too technical, but you have a Web site?
I have a Web site [www.ablackman.com]. The site consists of shirts and things I’ve been saying on stage, as a MC, for the shows: “Practice Love” … “PUSH: pray until something happens” … “As long as race or religion matters to us, there will always be something the matter with us.” I’m just trying to do something to generate a little love. That’s my message: Made with love, for love, to generate more love. We don’t know how far we can go if we have an abundance of love. And that’s what I’m hoping to see.