Your Memorial Day weekend plans are officially set: You must be with icons from the ‘80s on Catalina Island for the Lost at Sea ‘80s Beach Party. During the three-day event, you’ll catch live performances from A Flock of Seagulls, English Beat, Oingo Boingo Former Members, Missing Persons, The Untouchables, Dramarama, Annabella’s Bow Wow Wow, Wally Palmar of the Romantics, Tommy Tutone, Stacey Q, Naked Eyes, Josie Cotton, Shannon, Musical Youth, Trans-X, Kon Kan, and Burning Sensations.
As I began preparing for this incredible event, I learned that one of my long-held beliefs was not true. I have truly believed, since I was a teen, that “Pass the Dutchie” was about marijuana. The Musical Youth hit song is actually about… a Dutch oven! Yes, a cooking pot. (insert facepalm)
In 2019, Musical Youth front-man Dennis Seaton confirmed the true history of the song to the San Francisco Examiner. “‘Pass the Dutchie’ has always been about passing a cooking pot. Can you imagine the uproar that would have ensued if minors between 11 and 15 had been singing about cooking ‘pot’? We had no experience with weed.”
Whelp. I feel dumb.
But, if you are like me, Musical Youth is likely in your memory bank because of that song. The Birmingham, England band had several other great songs and will be a perfect beach vibe in Catalina.
Formed in 1979, the British-Jamaican reggae band went number one on multiple worldwide charts in 1982 with “Pass the Dutchie,” even landing in the top ten in the US and selling four million copies of the record. The video even placed them on the newly launched MTV as the first black musical act (before Michael Jackson!).
The gents had several other songs that got them attention; “Never Gonna Give You Up,” “Youth of Today,” “Generals,” “Political.” They scored a Grammy nom as Best New Artist with their debut album, “Youth of Today.” Their time in the spotlight also included a collaboration with Donna Summer, the legendary John Peel sessions, and as all good British bands do, appearances on “Top of the Pops.”
After that quick success, things fell apart. Front-man Dennis Seaton left in 1985 and the band folded, but after a solo career and compilation albums, Seaton reformed the band in 2001 with other founding member, Michael Grant.
So where have they been? We check in with Seaton to catch up and get excited for their appearance in Catalina.
Traci: Hey Dennis! What has been happening in your world? New music? New projects?
Dennis: In my world it has been two years of taking care of my family and dealing with the worldwide pandemic, whilst, we are not fully clear of the pandemic it has been very hard for touring musicians.
Traci: Yeah, it has been a pretty awful and strange time in our world. You were able to release a new album though, right?
Dennis: We released “When Reggae Was King” on Thump Records in 2020 and it also has a lockdown 2020 recording of “Pass the Dutchie” along with other classic reggae songs from 1972 to 1982. We just started laying down songs for the, yet untitled, new album.
Traci: New stuff? Awesome! I am excited you will be in Catalina. What interested you about the event?
Dennis: What drew us to Catalina was the Lost ‘80s festival we first performed at in 2019. Also we have never performed at Catalina Island so we are really looking forward to performing.
Traci: It is a pretty special location and your music will certainly fit the beach. You are also doing the 20th anniversary tour, right?
Dennis: Yes. We are very much looking forward to performing on the Lost ‘80s tour throughout August and September as it gives us a chance to perform at venues across the USA where we never got the chance to perform before.
Traci: Is there any special band on the tour you like to hang with?
Dennis: We love performing with all the artists on the tour as we are like one big happy family. Most of the artists have a connection with the UK, so that helps immensely and even though they may have settled in the US, they still maintain their Britishness as this never leaves you. I am really looking forward to performing with The English Beat as Dave Wakeling is from my hometown, Birmingham, and The Beat was one of the first live bands I saw before I joined Musical Youth as we were supporting them at the Powerhouse in Birmingham in 1981.
Traci: Have you been able to do live shows recently?
Dennis: I have been playing festivals and ‘80s events since the pandemic and last year we performed on the shortened Lost ‘80s shows when America wasn’t allowing foreign visitors, so we were very honoured indeed.
Traci: How have shows been since COVID?
Dennis: The shows have been well attended; it is backstage where we noticed the difference as the COVID protocols meant we couldn’t have non-performers backstage.
Traci: Who will be performing with you in Catalina?
Dennis: The current band members are David Salas (guitar), Jessie Castro (bass), Andrew Jaimez (drums), who are local musicians we use whilst performing in the US. I am hoping Michael Grant (keyboards) will be able to join us on the Catalina show as he is the original keyboard player for Musical Youth. For the tour in August and September, we will have Vinnie Pryce, from Birmingham, UK on keyboards and vocals.
Traci: How can we prepare for your May shows?
Dennis: If you would like to hear the album “When Reggae Was King,” it can be found on the usual streaming services along with videos on YouTube of the band performing ‘I Shot The Sheriff,’ which was written by Bob Marley and also taken to number one on the Billboard 100 by Eric Clapton in 1974.
Thank you so much, Dennis! We look forward to seeing you live in Catalina (and in the US!). In addition to Musical Youth and all the other amazing bands, Richard Blade will be on hand to host and DJ, plus new for this year, our favorite ‘80s movies will be shown throughout the weekend. The historical Avalon Theatre will show “Fast Times at Ridgemont High,” “Valley Girl,” “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” “Pretty in Pink,” “Back to the Future,” and “Karate Kid” at no additional cost to concertgoers.
Tickets are on sale now for the May 27-29 event. In addition to regular tickets, VIP and cabana passes are available, but keep in mind, they sold out in 2021!
If you can’t get to Catalina, check out the Lost ‘80s Live 20th Anniversary Tour as it winds its way through California, Arizona, Texas, Colorado, and Florida (plus more states and dates are still being announced!). The SoCal dates include Humphrey’s Concerts by the Bay on August 27th and Greek Theatre on August 28th.