“Greetings Pensacola! How you feeling tonight?” exclaimed Pato Banton, as he walked onstage for his performance at Vinyl Music Hall. Enjoying a professional career that began in 1982 when he appeared on seminal ska revivalists, The English Beat’s album “Special Beat Service,” Banton and crew were fully prepared to entertain the Pensacola crowd.

Before his entrance, Banton teased the crowd as his band, The NOW Generation, Tony Saenz (drums), Mikey Ortiz (bass) Antoinette Hall (keyboards/vocals), Daniel Lopilato (guitar/vocals), Jah (horns), Beeken (sax), Bryan Watson (trumpet), and Eddie Farmer (trombone) took the stage without their charismatic lead singer. As the band rode out an instrumental groove that got the audience dancing, Banton’s voice could be heard echoing in the venue. Greeted with cheers and playful glances questioning the whereabouts of the front man, Banton arrived on stage and embraced the ovation given to him.

After warming up the people with a few songs, Banton introduced a cover from the greatest reggae artist of all time. “We’re doing a Bob Marley song, dedicated to all of the Bob Marley fans in the house. I’m in a dance mood!” To which the band launched into Marley’s hit “Jammin.”

Along with dedications to the people that came out to the show, Banton gave special dedications to the people that keep Vinyl Music Hall running as a standout venue for performers and music lovers with acknowledgements to “my brother Disco in the sound booth” and a personal nod to Vinyl Music Hall owner, Joe Abston.

Quick to make sure that everyone was having a good time, Banton noticed a young lady standing still with her hands in her pockets while everyone around her danced to the lively music. He immediately called on his saxophone player, Beeken, to go to her side of the stage and serenade her with a seductive saxophone solo.

While each band member was given their time to shine, one of the most memorable moments involved Lopilato breaking from the syncopated reggae stabs on his Fender Strat to full-blown Randy Rhoads rock-out showmanship as he strutted to the front of the stage and immediately fired a few bars of Ozzy Osbourne’s “Crazy Train.”

As Banton ended his performance, he told everyone that he would be returning in March and to spread the word to all of the reggae fans in town, “Pensacola, thank you for coming out!”

-MLS

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