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Pressing Tunes – A Historical Music Tour of Kingston

“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

Together with Backayard Magazine, Hotel Mockingbird Hill has developed 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

You start by exploring the fascinating Jamaican Music Museum, whose have archived, researched and exhibit Jamaica’s music forms to highlight the social, historic & musical values and aesthetics.

The next visit is to the Alpha Boys School, where a number of famous Jamaican musicians were trained.

You then visit the new street art landmark, 41 Fleet Street created by Paint Jamaica. This is a community art project that evolved into a movement of democratic art in July 2014, engaging volunteers of all backgrounds and the residents of Parade Gardens, where you can also have lunch. Click here to buy a print from Paint Jamaica online.

Paint Jamaica

Originally centered around the designs engineered by the muralists in consideration to the team’s dialogue with the community, each visual center piece was done with the help of volunteers. The preparation for the project involved two weeks of expeditions within the community. Paint Jamaica is the latest in social and artistic activism in the Caribbean. It combines artistic talents, with the potential of places that need rehabilitation like Parade Gardens where the project is still ongoing. It implements the belief that not only visual forms of art possess a therapy over the human condition, but also that positive social activity is healthy step toward rehabilitation.

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.

Tours start at 10:00 AM and currently cost US$ 125.00 per person based on 2 people participating but not including transport. There is the option to visit the Culture Yard in Trenchtown for an additional US$ 15 entrance fee per person.

Other Additional Options: Vinyl Archives

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 1950’s to record Jamaica’s version of American Rhythm & Blues tunes that were proving popular on the island at that time during the 50’s.

You 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.

Book this Tour

To book this tour please email us with the dates your require and we will reply as soon as we have confirmed with Backayard Magazine that there is availability.

Further Information

Backayard Magazine

Rockers International photography ©


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