On February 2, 2011, as part of the Jamaica Reggae Industry Association‘s (JaRIA) “Reggae Month” celebrations the reigning “Kings of Mento” gave an electrifying performance at the first in a series of free concerts held at the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts, branded ‘Heritage’.
Mento is a style of Jamaican folk music that predates and has greatly influenced ska and reggae music and not only are The Jolly Boys the embodiment of this genre, but they have proven to be the perfect fusion of old and new with their introduction of “Modern Mento” into the world of music. After having spent so much time on tour in Europe it only took a few seconds on stage in Jamaica for The Jolly Boys to realize they were home. The crowd erupted in cheers as lead singer Albert Minott kicked things off with the Classic Mento hit “Dig, Dig”. The song’s subtle, sexual innuendos were mirrored in the gyrations of the singer.
Up next was the comical tale of the “Talking Parrot” which got members of the audience including Jamaica’s Minister of Sport, Youth and Culture the Hon. Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange, up on their feet and swaying to the beat. Albert hinted to his acrobatic, fire-breathing past by displaying his flexibility with some outlandish moves. A resounding applause coupled with Albert’s trademark “We love you over there!” drew this song to an end and Albert explained (for those who were unaware) the legend of the talking parrot as a betrayer of the secrets of unfaithful lovers.
It was during the particularly popular Classic Mento hit “Linstead Market”, that Albert introduced the rest of the band. Joseph “Powda” Bennett was well received by the crowd who was enjoying his mastery of the maracas, as were Egbert Watson on the banjo, Dale “Dizzle” Virgo on the drums and Derrick “Johnny” Henry on the marumba box. A new member Danny was also introduced on the guitar. Keeping his jovial and witty commentary going, Albert proudly proclaimed himself to be the “youngest” of the lot before treating the audience to some fancy footwork while performing “Iron Bar”.
The crowd roared once more as ‘Johnny’ introduced The Jolly Boys’ cover of The Stranglers’ “Golden Brown” with a short solo on the marumba box and like magic The Jolly Boys had flowed into the Modern Mento segment of their performance. Albert’s raspy voice had some female members of the audience in a state that closely resembled hyperventilation, so that by the time the announcement of the upcoming Jamaican launch of The Jolly Boys album “Great Expectation” was made they were in a veritable frenzy.
The Jolly Boys’ rendition of Lou Reeds “Perfect Day” had the crowd singing along as loudly as their lungs would allow and a group of audience members began to dance as though choreographed and Albert approached the edge of the stage to get a little closer to them. When he shouted his trademark “Uhh!” they bellowed it right along with him (and continued to do so at the end of every song that followed). It was after their cover of New Order’s “Blue Monday” that the crowd began shouting their request for the smash hit cover of Amy Winehouse’s “Rehab” and the moment The Jolly Boys began performing it they were interrupted by members of the audience who had rushed forward to show their excitement.
The Jolly Boys cooled things down a bit with the slower tempoed cover of The Doors’ “Riders on the Storm” but as soon as they began their rendition of “Ring of Fire” the dancers emerged once more to form a conga line that led to a spot directly in front of the stage where they broke off into pairs and danced to the smooth mento rhythms, encouraging even more applause from an already excited audience.
( Photos via Varun Baker )
The Jolly Boys had planned on ending things with a performance of their cover of Iggy Pop’s “The Passenger” but the fans would not have it. Moments after leaving the stage they were beckoned back on with a standing ovation an a call for an old Mento classic that had not even been a part of their usual repertoire, “Soldering”. It was here that the dancers in the crowd went really wild. For contextual purposes “Soldering” or as Jamaicans pronounce it “Sadarin” is a sort of slang for sexual intercourse that was popular in the early days of mento. After much gyration from the youngsters in the crowd the septuagenarians finally left the stage with one last “We love you” from Albert Minott. The Jolly Boys will be spreading the love even further on February 24, 2011 when they perform on American soil for the very first time at the Hiro Ballroom in New York! To follow The Jolly Boys on “The Road to New York” visit our Facebook Fan Page and to see more photos of The Jolly Boys rocking the house at the Edna Manley College in Jamaica go here.
Tags: edna manley college of the visual and performing arts, Jamaica, jamaica reggae industry association, Jamaican music, mento, mento music, modern mento, Music, reggae, reggae month, reggae month concert, reggae month jamaica, reggae music, sardarin, saudering, soldering, the caribbean, the jolly boys, the jolly boys at edna manley college