by Howard Campbell
[NEW YORK] – Although he is one of the visionaries who defines roots-reggae, Augustus Pablo’s music does not create a buzz in contemporary reggae. Principals of Mill Rock Music Publishing Group LLC, are determined that a publishing deal they signed with the artiste’s family, will introduce his Rockers International legacy to new fans.
Mill Rock Music Publishing Group was founded in 2016 by Murray Elias and Chris Schlarb, music industry veterans with long records in reggae/dancehall.
In an interview with South Florida Caribbean News last week, Elias said the deal was sealed in late 2021.
It gives Mill Rock Publishing “global control” of Pablo’s extensive publishing catalogue. The catalogue contains classic songs like Java and the album, East of The River Nile. Pablo (real name Horace Swaby) died in May 1999 at age 44.
“It’s in the early stages right now, so it’s a little premature to really say what’s going to transpire over time. But we plan on building the brand for Rockers International and Augustus Pablo; build his visibility beyond the reggae market as one of the key pioneers of dub music. Augustus Pablo’s name is well known among the reggae community but there is not a lot of recognition beyond the reggae community, and we plan on building that name recognition and building the brand,” Elias explained.
One of the initial projects Elias and Schlarb have in mind, is a documentary about Pablo’s work. Especially as a musician, producer and dub luminary. He’s considered one of the Big Three in Dub along with Osbourne “King Tubby” Ruddock and Lee “Scratch” Perry. Elias notes that he does not enjoy the acclaim of those men who died in 1989 and 2021, respectively.
The deal with Mill House Publishing was initiated by Isis and Addis Swaby, Pablo’s children. For many years, it was distributed by Shanachie Records, an independent label based in New York. They kept Rockers International’s music alive in areas Pablo had a following. Such as the United States West Coast and college circuit, Europe and Asia.
Adding Music to Commercials
In addition to a documentary, Elias said he and Schlarb are eyeing more commercial arenas.
“Another avenue we plan on pursuing with Augustus Pablo and his catalogue is we are going to be proactive in seeking placement in movies, TV shows, possibly television commercials,” he explained. “The ideal setting would be movie soundtracks. For example, the Netflix western The Harder They Fall; had we been working with Augustus Pablo when that was in production, that would have been an ideal landing spot.”
Elias has been in the music business for over 40 years. He has worked with several companies including Island Records, Priority Records and VP Records.
At Mill Rock Music Publishing Group, he and Schlarb work with acts and producers such as John “Jon FX” Crawford, Justus Arison and Dre Day.