From Drummer to Producer Kirk Bennett is the Backbone of Jamaican Music
by Howard Campbell
[KINGSTON, Jamaica] – The drummer has been the backbone of Jamaican music for decades. Ska had Lloyd Knibb, rock steady was driven by Fil Callender and Joe Isaacs while reggae has a number of heroes including Sly Dunbar, Carlton Barrett, Winston Grennan and Santa Davis.
Kirk Bennett is the hottest drummer in contemporary reggae. He brings an innovative flair to dancehall that has yielded a number of hit songs as a musician and producer for his Kirkledove Records.
His latest chart-rider is Sound Clash Army by veteran singer Anthony Red Rose.
“Unique and different, soulful and lively” is how Bennett describes a typical Kirkledove production. Being a drummer, the songs have a live feel which he believes is critical.
That formula has made hits for Elephant Man (Yuh Too Bad Mind), Busy Signal (Bedroom Bully) and Mr. Vegas (Tek wey Yuhself). Bennett, who played in Beres Hammond’s Harmony House band for over 15 years, is determined to improve on each production.
“I always want to top whatever I did before. I push myself to different dimensions, different places, different vibes,” he said.
Bennett is from Trelawny parish in western Jamaica. He began playing drums in a marching band and quickly moved up the ranks as a session musician after moving to the capital Kingston for greater opportunities.
His big break came when he was recruited by Hammond, arguably the biggest act in dancehall/reggae. Bennett was a focal point of the singer’s band; his patterns can be heard on Hammond hits like Come Down Father and I Feel Good.
He has played on numerous hit songs such as Tarrus Riley’s Lion Paw, Sizzla’s Solid As A Rock and My Dream by Nesbeth.