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Pop Music Review : Eclectic Duo With A Feminist Twist

March 17, 1987|CHRIS WILLMAN

Reminding the crowd to go home and tell their friends, the two women who make up Casselberry-DuPree helpfully described themselves as "an acoustic reggae duo," shortly before ending the first of two shows Sunday at Santa Monica's Church in Ocean Park.

And that wasn't a bad encapsulation, though it seemed a modest or limiting one; "African-styled feminist duo" or "internationally influenced American folk-pop duo" might be just as accurate in trying to pin down what these eclectic two do.

Acoustic reggae is, though, indeed the rarest of the several commodities Casselberry-DuPree offered up. Providing all the necessary syncopation was guitarist J. Casselberry, aided on percussion at times by Jaque DuPree (both women sing lead).

Lest anyone mistake them for strict Rastafarians, though, the women wore African-style dress and opened the show in the church aisle with an a cappella chant from Africa; later on, they covered material by Michael McDonald ("I've Got to Try") and Dory Previn ("Did Jesus Have a Baby Sister") in addition to the expected Bob Marley salutes.

Good humor pervaded both the between-song patter and the performances themselves, helping make the polemics palatable to whatever few non-leftists might have snuck in among the predominately female crowd. (The duo has been embraced by devotees of "women's music," though they rarely address feminist themes to the exclusion of others.)

In fact, their playfulness pointed up that--for all their international garb and genres--you can still see in these two a little bit of the streetwise brats that they probably were when they met in high school 20 years ago in . . . not Kingston, not Soweto, but Brooklyn.

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