Between November 3rd and 12, I was in Jamaica at GeeJam Studios to work on Jon Baker’s Jolly Boys recording project. Months ago, Jon came up with an idea to invite the Jolly Boys (featuring Albert Minott, a Jolly Boy from the early 1960s who took a long hiatus to perform in north coast floor shows) into the studio and ask them to take on something different from the “island music” repertory that makes up a large part of what they play. The tunes Jon chose were mostly rock tracks from the 1970s-2000s (including songs by The Stooges, Lou Reed, The Doors, Amy Winehouse, as well as some more modern Jamaican repertory from the likes of Sean Kingston and others) that are well outside the comfort zone of most mento bands. Charged with adding some modern but mento-inspired riddims (which turned out wicked) was Dale “Dizzle” Virgo, GeeJam’s studio manager and chief engineer. My job was to play banjo and perhaps even to offer a little of my doctoral expertise with mento to round out the album’s sound. Anyhow, I took some short videos of the experience and edited together a little thing that I’ve put up on the Youtube. Have a look:
As you might hear from a couple of the clips here, it’s not a “traditionalist” album, rather, it’s a modern take on the tradition that I hope raises awareness of the music and widens the creative and commercial possibilities for others playing it today.