So Ive decided to start a blog. A place to reflect on my musical life, and the things that get me buzzed. Also to reflect on my experiences and what they mean to me as a singer and player of instruments. Thinking about the last year, or even the last ten years, gives me such a mixture of feelings, and lots of things I think about a lot. The music lifestyle always has a lot of ups and downs, and Jamaica is a land of serious extremes. One day yuh nice, the next day its rough again. But its a real trip. I love it. I came back to Jamaica in late 2007 to focus all my energy on music and its been a constant ride, lots of growth as a musician and an artist, lots of experiences i might not have had anywhere else. But its been one tough trod.
The main thing with Jamaica is that its a small pie that youre trying to get a little slice of. So few venues and shows, so many talented people. The pickings can be slim sometimes. Not to mention if we get into the politics, the bad-mind bullshit that happens, payola, and so on. But thats an entire separate story in itself, for some other time. So….. naturally you have to just persevere and make sacrifices, just like anywhere else. Its not unique to Jamaica, but from what I see in other countries, it really is especially difficult here.
A lot of the time its a bitter sweet experience, exhausted, long nights, not being paid after hours onstage, not a drink or even a little gas money. After putting in so much time and energy, driving up and down, rehearsing.Disorganised soundcheck for the show, and not even get to go home to eat or bathe before showtime. “is jus’ so it go”. You just have to keep supporting the music until it really starts to support you. And it has its moments.
Life as a free-lance musician is almost always busy recently. Ive been playing with more and more bands over the years, always an average of 4 or 5 different bands, with occasional random gigs with a singer or a different band. One thing I know, the more instruments you play, the more music you get to play = ). Usually only one or two of the bands is busy enough to be a constant activity (sometimes I sit at home broke with nothing to do but play music by myself), but it all helps to be a well rounded musician. Jamaica really is a land of diversity. Especially when it comes to the music. Along with all the mainstream reggae and dancehall stuff i do, theres been lots of rock, jazz, and stuff I dont want to put in a box. But its the work with different musicians that has been a blessing. Especially when it comes to the dynamics of a reggae performance, and the roles that different band members play, all of these things are a science/art that you have to live to learn. So I know it was a good choice to come home and be immersed. The jamming is sweet, even if its hours and days of toil for a short hour or two of excitement. But its worth it.
This year has had some cool highlights too. I finally got to play at Sumfest, with Protoje, my bredgrin whose band “Indiggnation” I play in. We did a festival in Toronto, in Dundas square, me him and Jah9. It was a few thousand people, probably the biggest crowd Ive gotten to play for so far, but Im still dreaming of stadiums. But it was still a nice feeling.
Working with the Uprising Roots band has been the definition of irie. I got to play with John Holt in Negril. If youre a serious reggae fan, you have to know John Holt, a major vintage reggae singer. If not, youve still almost surely heard his songs. And I also met and did a few shows with Winston Makanuff, someone I discovered a year ago and I would have to say is one of my favorite singer/songwriters now, I know all of the time listening to his stuff and then playing with him has affected me as an artist. Who else? Fredlocks was cool. And Sizzla rushed on the stage and grabbed a mic the other night when we were playing in Trench Town. That was crazy too, Sizzla and his entourage. So nuff respect to Uprising. And working with Protoje and Jah9, my two favorite lyricists of my generation! We’ve been playing and growing together for awhile, and what can I say? I love my music family. Its good to get a feeling that music in Jamaica is still growing and developing positively, anyone who says reggae is dead or not growing needs to get out more.
Last but not least, playing at Jamnesia in Bull Bay every other week with From the Deep- the sons of Billy Mystic of the Mystic Revealers, has been a constant joy for the last two years. From the Deep and the crew out there has been the source of some good times. Sometimes even jamming with the man Billy Mystic himself, this whole family is a set of musicians and songwriters that I have the utmost respect and admiration for. But these are all things I could write pages about, let me just say theres been some wicked stuff.
So looking back, looking around, looking forward. It looks good! With all the fuckry, I still have to give thanks. And next year I hope will be even better. Touring with Protoje, two of my self-produced songs going on a compilation album, so many promising things that may manifest. And I also decided to start this blog. Just about people or music that I want to share, or talk about. Stuff that inspires me or I just dig a lot. If you’re reading this, I hope you find it an interesting perspective on Jamaican music life, or something, or whatever. I just hope I can find enough time to practice and keep getting better, lol.