“Music is the voice of the Jamaican people. We think about it hour to hour, year to year. The speed of it changes, the voice changes. But it always depends on what is happening in our society.” Sean Paul Hotel Mocking Bird Hill has developed with Backayard Magazine a superb new music tour of Kingston that explores the history of Jamaica’s most acclaimed musicians & producers across ska reggae, rock steady and dance hall. Amilcar Lewis the magazine’s editor plays guide, giving an insightful and colourful story of the musical trends Jamaica created around the world.
Waxy Beat, Rebel Bass
Beyond Jamaica’s biggest export, Mr Bob Marley, and a hallowed tour of the museum created in his memory, we visit exploring the fascinating Jamaican Music Museum, whose archive, research and exhibit Jamaica’s music forms to highlight the social, historic & musical values and aesthetics. Lunch is upon request, depending on what you’d like to eat, Amilcar will recommend a restaurant, street food or even going to the local thriving Jubilee Market with its diverse set of pushcarts and stalls, selling anything you’d ever need, and a people-watching window into the real Jamaica from where the music started.
Orange Street Labels
After lunch the tour continues to weave though Jamaica’s capital following in the footsteps and record shops of the legendary musician and producer Winston Riley, founder of the best-selling cutting edge Techniques Label, behind the most sampled reggae song Stalag Ridim, and creator of the UK’s 1971 first No.1 reggae hit Double Barrel. Reggae thrived from the competing small labels on Orange Street and included in the tour is the melodica roots reggae musician and dub producer Augustus Pablo’s label and still busy shop, Rockers International. Home to Junior Delgado and King Tubby our musical stop includes listening to the tunes that made this label internationally acclaimed and so busy that it still thrives today.
Vinyl still plays a part on Jamaica’s sound systems; we watch a pressing at what was regarded as Kingston’s first state of the art studio, Dynamic Sounds, originally named WIRL Studios, (West Indies Records Ltd). It was established in the 1950s to record Jamaica’s version of American Rhythm & Blues tunes that were proving popular on the island at that time during the 50’s. We get to play on the mixing desk used by legendary figures from Jamaica and abroad and watch the whole process of recording, imprinting onto vinyl and labelling in one of the last remaining pressing plants on the island. For those that would like a keepsake you can record your own dancehall, reggae edit to play to your friends Tours start at 10.00 am and cost US$ 106.00 per person based on 2 people participating but not including transport. The price is reduced per head if a family or groups wish to participate or alternatively if the recording session is not required in which case it is US$88.50. There is the option to visit the Culture Yard in Trenchtown in addition $15 entrance fee per person.
Join us on Wednesdays for free DubStep live
Bookings received by the end of April receive a free online subscription to Backayard Magazine Wednesday Night Live Music Many observers have said that our island of Jamaica seemly does everything to a musical beat. From the politicians and civil servants to the venders that colourfully dot the roadside, all has a history with or been inspired by sound emanating from speakers island-wide. So vast is Jamaica’s musical history that it would take several trips to many different locations to learn it all, however we have taken the time to streamline it all in-view of a better experience for our guests. Head tour guide Philip Lobban affectionally known as “MusicPhill” in addition to having hosting his own radio show, (The MusicPhill Roots Reggae Show) has worked at record shops such as: Derrick Harriott, Sonic Sounds, Disco Land Record Shop, MusicFair, Aquarius and the world famous Joe Gibbs Records. Tour Coordinator Amilcar Lewis co-created and still runs Jamaica’s only reggae/dancehall culture magazine (BACKAYARD Magazine) which has put him direct contact, over the years, with most of the local music makers both past and present. Come along with us and move to the reggae beat.
Rockers International photography ©Lucciola.me