Michigan and Smiley, Casper bring the dancehall to the Legacy Inn

Jamaican dancehall legends bring roots rhythms to northern Arizona reggae fans

Michigan and Smiley, 70s Jamaican night club dance kings, headline at the Legacy Inn in Moencopi, Ariz. April 6. Photo/Rosanda Suetopka Thayer

Michigan and Smiley, 70s Jamaican night club dance kings, headline at the Legacy Inn in Moencopi, Ariz. April 6. Photo/Rosanda Suetopka Thayer

MOENCOPI, Ariz. - It was a killer night of reggae April 6 when Jamaican reggae 1970s dancehall legends Michigan and Smiley and Casper Lomadawa, Hopi's own reggae dance king, took to the stage at the Legacy Inn in Moencopi, Ariz. according to concert attendees.

A packed house of fans from the Hopi and Navajo reservations, Flagstaff and Prescott filled the conference multi-use room area of the Hopi owned resort hotel for more than four hours.

Papa Michigan (Anthony Fairclough) and his reggae partner, General Smiley (Erroll Bennett) brought down the house, as their heavy bass reggae dance beat hit the floorboards at the Legacy.

The duo pressed their first hit single in Jamaica in 1979. "Rub a Dub Style" featured a call and response style vocal.

The two followed their first hit with "Nice Up the Dance," which quickly became a nightclub favorite, and "Diseases" and "Downpression." In 1983, their single "Sugar Daddy" appeared on records released by Channel One Records and RAS Records.

"It was a killer show, they had so much energy, everyone was dancing, it was really great," said Elva Uqualla, a member of the Hopi Tribe who traveled from her home village of Hotevilla 50 miles away to be at the Legacy Inn for the reggae concert.

Uqualla took advantage of special pricing for concert ticket holders to reserve a hotel room with a musical discount for the evening saving herself the chore of driving back to the Rez after the show.

Casper Lomadawa is originally from Hopiland and is always a favorite local crowd-pleaser, a "homeboy" who has lots of love and support from his original tribal land base.

Casper found his musical calling in reggae legend Bob Marley. He has performed publicly since 1995 including at the 2000 Inaugural Ball for George W. Bush.

"Reggae is struggle music," said Lomadawa, whose Hopi last name means Beautiful Sun.

"My Hopi Kwa'ah, Sankey Lomayesva would always call me Casper, like the ghost in the kid cartoon because I would 'disappear' just before gettting spanked or disciplined for some kind of trouble I was always in. I miss him dearly," said Lomadawa.

Lomadawa was born Calvin Arthur in Winslow, Ariz. to a Hopi father and Navajo mother, but his primary upbringing was between Holbrook and his Hopi homeland of Kykotsmovi.

Lomadawa currently lives in Phoenix and is a road surveyor for the state's transportation department but by night and weekend he fronts the MIGHTY 602 Band.

Lomadawa has created music for reggae and world audiences since the mid 90s with two of his CDs receiving NAMMY accolades, 1997's "Original Landlord" and his later release "Honor the People."

The Hopi Tribe's Legacy Inn is becoming one of the hottest local venues located on tribal land to feature high quality, ethnic musical and dance groups. It features a luxury hotel and conference accommodations with the only hotel swimming pool for its guests and next door restaurant accommodations.


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