Greater Expectations for The Jolly Boys

The charismatic Albert Minott, Jolly Boys' lead vocalist & guitarist.
Portland has had its share of innovations; think Boston Jerk, birthplace of Jamaican Tourism and more recently Modern Mento. This latest innovation, the brainchild of Geejam Studio's Jon Baker, is masterfully personified by the energy and musical stylings of Port Antonio's very own Jolly Boys.

The Jolly Boys have been a mainstay of Portland's music scene dating back to the 1950s. Since then the group has undergone numerous transitions all while maintaining its signature Mento sound. That was, however, until November 2008 when Baker and Dale 'Dizzle' Virgo started an experiment that has produced what many are now calling the 'Evolution of Mento.'

I caught up with the group at Geejam Studios last week to talk about the old days, their new album Great Expectations and their upcoming UK tour.

Longstanding members of the Jolly Boys l-r; Albert Minott (lead singer/guitarist), Joseph 'Powda' Bennett (maracas) & Derrick 'Johnny' Henry (rumba box). 
Prêt-à-Portie: How do you feel about this renewed interest in Mento music and the Jolly Boys?

Jolly Boys: (Dale) We're very happy with it. We were very excited to see the turn-out and the great reception we got last Saturday (July 3) at our REDBONES cafe concert in Kingston, especially from the younger fans. Its amazing to see them enjoying and appreciating Mento music.

(Albert): This music has been simmering for a long time and we're now ready to serve it to the world.   

Prêt-à-Portie: Do you think Modern Mento could possibly be the next big thing in Jamaican music?

JB (Dale): Yes, definitely. We really created this unique genre for a niche market. But it definitely has the potential to be the next big sound coming out of Jamaica. The overwhelming reaction we've gotten from our fans so far suggests this.

Latest additions to the group l-r; Donald Waugh (banjo), Dale "Dizzle' Virgo (percussion) & Lenford 'Brutus' Richards (guitar)
Prêt-à-Portie: Why was the decision taken to add new members to the original band?

JB (Dale): When we worked in the studio on the Great Expectations album we got a very unique and interesting sound that we thought represented a more modern take on traditional Mento. So under the direction of ethnomusicologist Daniel Neely, some new talent was recruited to play the modern version that we created in the studio.

Prêt-à-Portie: Tell us about your new members.

JB (Dale): Well we brought in professionally trained musician Donald Waugh as well as guitarist Lenford 'Brutus' Richards of Burning Spear fame. I also lend my talent to the band on percussions. 

Prêt-à-Portie: Do you have any more local shows planned before you go on tour?

JB: No we don't, but it's very likely that we'll have a performance here at the Bushbar before we leave for our UK tour on July 19.

Prêt-à-Portie: Great, I'm looking forward to seeing you then. And good luck with the tour.

JB (Powda): Thank you. This music can live forever and I am here to help spread it. I feel like I have another 90 or so years in me so I am ready for the journey.

(l) Joseph 'Powda' Bennett and (r) Derrick 'Johnny' Henry.

Derrick reminisces about his days performing for Errol Flynn on Navy Island while Albert and Joseph chat with a fan.

(l) The band on a rehearsal break(r) Band member Dale 'Dizzle' Virgo also co-produced the Great Expectations album.


ill-Matic World said...

This is good stuff keep up the good work you are doing.

Danielle said...

OMG Rens this is A-mazing work , sigh.... your brilliance is deadly man.

Wahzat Gayle said...

This blog and photos are wonderful!

Prêt-à-Portie said...

Really appreciate the blog-luvin' :) Thanks guys!

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