Now that we have had 2 major blizzards and one crazy ice storm here in NYC, I thought I would let my thoughts drift back to a month or so ago when I was in Jamaica.
First off...there is nothing like getting off the plane in Kingston when it is Winter in NYC. You leave out with your big, down jacket and scarf and by the time you land in Michael Manley airport you know the heat is waiting. And, boom, once that hatch is opened and you walk down the tarmac the waves of heat and humidity smack you around like jabs from a mediocre flyweight. Then, as you struggle to try and put your jacket and sweatshirt somewhere, you get to customs and the questions come...Why do you keep coming to Jamaica? Why do you stay in Downtown Kingston? Why don't you go to the beach? And not just questions, but actual ruminations on the state of the class struggle in Jamaica. Now, I like a bit of class struggle discussion, but not when I am operating on 2 hours of sleep and general travel day malaise.
Then, hopefully, you get through customs and pass muster with your bags and suddenly you are out! Sun a blazing and sea of taxis and tourists and people asking if you need a tour guide and a driver and a this and a that! But you have arrived and let the movements begin.
Michael Manley Airport
One thing that I love about Kingston is the sign painting. it is an art form that existed in every major city all over the world and has disappeared in recent decades. In New York you see ghosts murals of long, lost stores and businesses. But in Kingston, you can't have a shop without a nice, hand painted sign.
Bar with Super Ass!
Natty Clap the Barber!
Outside of Rockers
Ital is Vital tonic!
The LA Lewis Graffiti in Kingston is legendary and well documented. as a huge LA LEWIS I was pleased to spot this new one.
I personally find the entire Gully / Gaza issue to be ridiculous -- Great! More divisions and antagonisms in Jamaica! -- but the graffiti lives on!
Most of what I do in Kingston involves checking out old records. Well, on this last trip that search led me to the deeply historical building located at 22 Beeston Street in Downtown Kingston.
While there were a few nice records there, I was more interested in the building itself which, according to the residents, housed the ORIGINAL Studio One before Brentford Ave opened up. They told me that Don Drummond used to practice around the back and that Sir Coxsone's mother had her restaurant across the street and in fact had a record shop in the building where this woman now sells cigarettes and candy.
What was amazing was that the building still pulses with music and energy as people still host a sound system out of the building and are continually building and repairing speaker boxes. Here's a few of the residents!
He Knew Don Drummond!
The Next Generation!
While down there I got to link up with one of my favorite artists of the 1980s...Man called Danny Coxson. He put out a few self-produced 12"s on his own Gem Star imprint that always struck me as being way way ahead of their time. He had both a sufferer's vocals and the ability to ride the darkest and heaviest riddims to perfection. He is still a serious singer, a painter, a writer and a great father to his children.
Danny Coxson with Tiger Cat!
Danny was working out some ideas for some Dub Plates for us. As you can hear he still sounds wicked!!! He has not lost a touch! Bless up Danny Coxson!!!
Now, I cannot make a trip to Kingston without stopping in Greenwich Farm to pay my respects to some of the founders of the music.
Redemption Sounds, Church of Music, Fred Allen and Phillip Frazer
Redemption Sounds and Phillip Frazer
So big up Jamaica! See you soon!