by Howard Campbell
[NEW YORK] – Although he is one of the visionaries who defines roots-reggae, the music of Augustus Pablo does not create a buzz in contemporary reggae. Mill Rock Music Publishing Group LLC executives are determined that a publishing deal they signed with the artist’s family will introduce new fans to his Rockers International legacy.
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 done in late 2021.
This gives Mill Rock Publishing “overall control” of Pablo’s extensive publishing catalog. The catalog contains classic songs like Java and the album, East of The River Nile. pablo (real name Horace Swaby) died in May 1999 at the age of 44.
“It’s in its infancy right now, so it’s a bit premature to really say what’s going to happen over time. But we plan to build the brand for Rockers International and Augustus Pablo; build its visibility beyond the reggae market as one of the leading pioneers of dub music. Augustus Pablo’s name is well known in the reggae community, but there is not much recognition beyond the reggae community, and we anticipate to build that name recognition and build the brand,” Elias explained.
One of Elias and Schlarb’s initial projects is a documentary about Pablo’s work. Especially as a musician, producer and dub luminary. He is considered one of Dub’s Big Three along with Osbourne “King Tubby” Ruddock and Lee “Scratch” Perry. Elias notes that he does not enjoy the praise of these 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 music alive in the areas that Pablo had a following. Such as the US West Coast and College Circuit, Europe and Asia.
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In addition to a documentary, Elias said he and Schlarb are considering more commercial arenas.
“Another avenue that we plan to pursue with Augustus Pablo and his catalog is that we are going to be proactive in seeking placement in films, television shows, possibly television commercials,” he explained. “The ideal setting would be film soundtracks. For example, the Netflix western The Harder They Fall; if we had worked with Augustus Pablo when this was in production, it would have been an ideal landing point.
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 Grouphe and Schlarb work with actors and producers such as John “Jon FX” Crawford, Justus Arison and Dre Day.