Jamaica Ska Legend Eric “Monty” Morris

Jamaican ska music legend Eric “Monty” Morris will return to the Southland on August 27th for what will be his fifth ever show in the City of Angeles. Monty will be honored in a very special Tribute To A Living Legend showcase inside the popular new reggae night spot, The Joint.

Fresh from his debut European tour and in support of his first full-length album entitled The Living Legends Collection, Monty will be backed by an all-star cast of L.A. based musicians for this one night only. Also on the bill will be L.A.’s reggae rising stars Penny Reel (named after Monty’s hit song), popular San Diego ska outfit The Amalgamated, deejay Ras Sal and emcee Junor Francis (of KXLU radio). Monty’s fans can expect a high energy set that will include his hits “Humpty Dumpty,” “Strongman Sampson,” “Penny Reel” and “Oil In My Lamp.”

Eric “Monty” Morris

Monty Morris, who has outlived many of his contemporaries, is recognized and considered one of the founding fathers of ska music. As early as 1961, prior to Jamaica gaining its independence from Great Britain, he had several hit songs such as “I’ve Tried,” “Me & My Forty Five,” “Say That You Love Me,” “Search the World” and the chart topping, “Humpty Dumpty” for singer/producer Prince Buster. Also in 1961, he recorded “To Be or Not to Be” for producer Coxsone Dodd.

That same year Monty teamed up with Jamaican expatriate who now resides in Canada, Roy Panton. The duo released several unique and brilliant cuts “In & Out the Window,” Oh Little Honey” and Sweetie Pie,” all of which made cash registers ring for producer Duke Reid. Along with giants of the ska epoch, Alton Ellis, Stranger Cole and Ken Boothe, Morris grew up in the Trench Town area of Kingston, Jamaica. His big opportunity came when he competed in the ever so popular Vere Johns’ Opportunity Hour.

Monty Morris

From there Monty went on to make hit songs for every Kingston producer of the day. With his popularity at an all time high, having placed multiple tunes such as “Strongman Sampson,” “Humpty Dumpty,” “Drop Your Sword,” “Penny Reel” and “Oil in My Lamp,” on the top ten charts on both Jamaican radio stations, JBC and RJR, Monty could do no wrong. He was commissioned to perform in the United States at the highly prestigious 1964 New York World’s Fair.

The fabulous cast of Jamaican musicians that rocked the foundation of New York City included Millie Small, Jimmy Cliff, and Byron Lee & the Dragonaires. The Fair’s theme was “Peace through Understanding,” dedicated to “Man’s Achievement on a Shrinking Globe in an Expanding Universe.”

By 1966, Jamaica’s first indigenous music had evolved into the short lived but glorious rocksteady and Monty was back in the spotlight with his last major contribution to the Jamaican music charts “Say What You’re Saying” for producer/singer Clancy Eccles in 1968.

The following year, Monty migrated to the United States where he has been residing ever since. To date, his songs have been included in numerous ska, rocksteady and reggae compilations. Much to his delight, in the 2003 Jim Jarmusch directed film “Coffee and Cigarettes,” used his song “Enna Bella” as one of soundtrack numbers.

In March of 2011 Monty released his first full-length album “The Living Legends Collection – Eric Monty Morris (Buckley Records).” /

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African American Heritage Parade 2011

On Sunday May 29th 2011, the Annual African-American Heritage Statewide Parade, celebrating its 45th anniversary, was hosted in Newark, New Jersey. “The parade received its beginning in 1966, when heritage enthusiasts conceived the concept, and called it the Crispus Attucks Parade, but it was discontinued in 1976. It was revived in 1979 as the Black Heritage Day Parade, which continued until 1993. Today, Newark can boast of hosting the largest Black Cultural Celebration in New Jersey” (

The 2011 installment of the parade paid homage to the numerous men and women, who were at the forefront of many of the struggles and achievements of African Americans over the centuries of their presence in North America. Organizers and participants in the parade honored famed individuals, such as: Booker T. Washington, Fredrick Douglas, Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Betty Shabazz, W. E. B. Du Bois, and many others.

Among the participants in the parade were numerous high school marching bands, which came from many areas of New Jersey. The Medgar Evers College Preparatory Marching Band of Brooklyn New York came across the river and enthusiastically made their contribution to the events. Together with the East Orange Unified Marching Band and the Plainfield High School Marching Band, they engaged in an impromptu and competitive Battle of the Bands in Lincoln Park, the starting point of the parade (see and These ensembles then joined the other bands, like Central High School Marching Band, to provide creative and energetic musical and marching performances, that were warmly received by the hundreds of spectators along the Broad St. parade route.

Prominently featured in the parade were the banners and placards of the People’s Organization for Progress (POP), which recalled and celebrated the civil rights and black power struggles of the 1960s. Large placards “shouted”: “Say Loud, I’m black and I’m Proud”, “Power to the People”, “Black is Beautiful”, and many others. With these slogans boldly displayed, the members and supporters of the POP undoubtedly triggered the memory of the those in the audience, old enough to remember that turbulent era of the black populace struggles for equal rights against the discrimination of the segregation laws. The banners also served to register those historical events into the consciousness of the young, and engender continued pride in the achievements of African Americans.


Lord Kitchener steps off the Empire Windrush

Lord Kitchener. Photograph: Popperfoto

When the Empire Windrush docked at Tilbury, a new Britain was born. On board was the first wave of West Indian guest workers, answering a British government advertisement for cheap transport to the mother country to fill the postwar labour shortage.

The seeds of multicultural Britain were duly sown. Further down the line lay the Notting Hill riots of 1958, Joe Harriott at Ronnie Scott’s, the Notting Hill street carnival, the Equals singing Black Skin Blue Eyed Boys, the Clash singing Police and Thieves, football fans throwing bananas at black players, black players becoming international captains, Lenny Henry offering to be repatriated to Dudley, Paul Gilroy’s There Ain’t No Black in the Union Jack, the Brixton and Toxteth riots of 1981, Janet Kay trilling Silly Games on Top of the Pops, Courtney Pine’s Jazz Warriors, the London Community Gospel Choir, the Reggae Philharmonic Orchestra, Benjamin Zephaniah turning down an MBE, pirate radio, natty dread, funki dred, drum’n’bass, dubstep, grime, Dizzie Rascal. All this was to come.

First, though, first came Kitchener. The Windrush, a former German liner popular with the Nazi naval elite, included onboard Lord Kitchener and Lord Beginner, Trinidad’s top calypsonians. Remarkably, when Kitchener disembarked, Pathe News caught the “king of calypso” on camera. Pathe was documenting “The Great British Black Invasion”. Asked to sing, Kitchener didn’t miss a beat. “London is the place for me,” he crooned, “London, this lovely city …” He had yet to experience smog-bound austerity Brixton, whose labour exchange was first port of call for many of Kitchener’s 500 fellow travellers.

“Kitch” worked his own passage, in clubs and pubs. Soon he, Beginner and others were passing comment on national life on record; the 1950 England-West Indies test match was celebrated on Cricket, Lovely Cricket. The 1951 general election and the 1953 coronation followed while closer to home was My Landlady and her demands for rent. With its wit and side order of double entendre – “Oh mister, don’t touch me tomatoes” – calypso fitted easily into the national psyche.

The musical history of multi-racial Britain is usually elided to omit the 50s, jumping to the Jamaican insurgency of the 60s, but in London at least there was a vibrant scene, ranging from the big band swing of Jamaica’s Leslie “Jiver” Hutchinson to the steel band of Trinidadian Russ Henderson. It was a diverse, global mix drawn to the mother country from different parts of the Empire, with jazz providing the lingua franca.

Little documented, the scene was caught by Colin MacInnes in his 1957 novel City of Spades, whose hero is a West African hustler called Johnny Fortune. MacInnes gives us a glimpse of a secret London of nightclubs and shebeens, petty criminals, prostitutes, corrupt cops, outsiders by race, sexuality or choice. It’s a parallel world to the starchy conformism of drab, respectable Britain.

Black America, of course, played its part, but a new, cosmopolitan fusion that spoke specifically to black Britons was under way. More than bananas had come off the banana boats in London’s docks. It was The Banana Boat Song, a Jamaican work chant, that broke calypso to an international audience.

As the 50s teetered into the 60s, calypso was still popular. Like much else, it would be swept aside by pop, R&B, and folk. In particular, there was soul, whose confident, civil rights-tinged modernism offered a new model to black people across the globe. When Sam Cooke sang A Change is Gonna Come, the racial rulebook changed.

Jamaican music was quickest to pick up the new mood of black America, and add its own innovatory ideas to create reggae. When the Notting Hill carnival moved onto the streets in 1966, it was a Trinidadian, calypsonian celebration, though reggae and its sound systems would come to define the event in the 1970s, when the story of Reggae Britannica takes off. First, though, there was Kitch.

For original article:  Lord Kitchener steps off the Empire Windrush | Music | The Guardian.


Notting Hill Carnival could be axed

Notting Hill Carnival 2011 may yet be cancelled with directors are set to make a decision on whether the event will go ahead late next week following the riots that have swept the country this week, Event can reveal.

As Event reported yesterday, comments were rife on Twitter, suggesting the carnival could be called off if the violence persists.

There is concern the event, which attracts two million people over the August bank holiday weekend, could spark a repeat of the recent trouble.

A carnival insider confirmed to Event they are still working on the event as if it is going to happen.

“The directors are speaking with police and the council and assessing things on a day-to-day basis,” they told us. “They would like it to go ahead but understand the severity of the issue. It’s early days yet.”

A statement issued later read: “Given the huge number of people who take part in Carnival crime rates are low, and our policing style in recent years has ensured that less people become victims of crime. We know that everyone who loves Carnival wants that success to continue this year.”

For original article:


Marvin Gaye- What’s Going On: 40th Anniversary

The following is a review, published in Black Grooves, of the Universal Music Group 40th anniversary release of Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On album.

album cover:

Marvin Gaye wrote and produced the suite of songs that make up What’s Going On out of what he called a religious motivation to speak truth to troubled people in a troubled time.  That was back in 1971.  Men were coming home from an unpopular war, their bodies and souls in tatters, and they couldn’t find jobs. The natural environment was threatened.  Hopelessness, drug addiction and violence dominated life in the inner cities.  It’s a sad commentary on American society that so many of these beautiful and deeply disturbing songs still ring as true in 2011 as they did in 1971.

Despite that depressing perspective, this deluxe reissue (a gatefold LP with 2 CDs inserted in the back cover) is a joyous occasion for fans of great soul music. Universal Music Group has remastered the original album (CD 1), with resulting punchier sound.  Also included on the first CD are the original mono single versions of several songs plus some unreleased demos and mixes.

CD 2, called “The Detroit Instrumental Sessions and More” is, first of all, a sampler’s delight as well as college-level schooling on how great funk beats and hooks are laid into coherent grooves.  The tracks also provide a window into Gaye’s creative process right after What’s Going On exploded on the scene and raced up the charts, showing what sorts of musical ideas he contemplated exploring and exploiting.  Judging from many of the hard-funk grooves, he was headed where Jimi Hendrix had gone in the last year of his life, toward a meeting of rock and soul with a funk beat that included layers of rock-style distorted guitars and heavy electric bass.

The main feature of the set is an LP of the original “Detroit” mix from April 1971.  What was actually issued as Tamla TS 310 in May 1971 was a remix and revision done in Los Angeles, just weeks before the final release date (the new LP was not previewed for this review).

What’s Going On represented a new direction at Motown.  With this album, Marvin Gaye moved Motown into the ‘70s and moved his music into a new, serious and thoughtful, realm. But it was a struggle to get it released. According to the liner notes, Gaye put his career on the line with Motown founder Berry Gordy, who was also his brother-in-law.  After Gordy delayed putting out the single of “What’s Going On,” Gaye threatened to “never record for (Gordy) again.”  In a recent interview with Marc Myers, published in the Wall Street Journal and also on Myers’ Jazzwax blog, Gordy denied there was that much drama but admitted that he had strong reservations about an album he considered commercially questionable and potentially very controversial and divisive.  The album did succeed in the marketplace and its prominence grew with time, causing Gordy to later admit that “Marvin was right.”

According to Ben Edmonds’ liner notes, the album was produced and overseen by Gaye, but many others played key parts.  The title track was conceived by Obie Benson (of the Four Tops) and Al Cleveland, and then embraced, altered and re-worked by Gaye and the “Funk Brothers” (Motown’s studio musicians).  Gaye’s wife, Anna Gordy Gaye, helped with lyrics to “Flying High.”  Motown elevator operator James Nyx came up with the lyrics used in “What’s Happening Brother,” “God Is Love,” and “Inner City Blues.”  Gaye was solely responsible for “Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology).” Gaye also added outside musicians, including jazz drummer Chet Forest and saxman Wild Bill Moore, plus lush instrumentations by David Van DePitte (who was given a credit on the front cover of the LP).

Following is a clip from the DVD Marvin Gaye: Real Thing: In Performance 1964-1981:

What’s Going On was also the last major Motown album recorded and produced in Detroit; the company completed its move to Los Angeles while the album was still on the Billboard charts.  The new, complex and mature music style that Gaye pioneered was immediately embraced by Stevie Wonder and other Motown artists, and the days of “hit factory machine” pop ditties were over. In that same era, Motown had success with Rare Earth, an all-white rock band.

Marvin Gaye went on to other great successes, but What’s Going On will always stand as his deepest and broadest statement, a suite of music that was very bold and new in its time and still sounds fresh and relevant today.  The facts of Gaye’s later life and death, and the fact that his songs still ring true 40 years later, add a poignancy to this new reissue.  In the tradition of well-done deluxe reissues, this set augments the great album at its core with good liner notes and artwork, related musical perspective and something new and collectable with the alternate-mix LP.

Reviewed by Tom Fine


For the original review: Marvin Gaye- What’s Going On: 40th Anniversary |


…Drum Call a ‘tribute to the ancestors’

A HANDFUL of devoted Orisha members yesterday kickstarted the Emancipation Day celebrations at the All Stars panyard, in Port of Spain with the spirutal drum calling.

The drum calling, which was the official opening of the day’s celebration, started at 5 a.m., some 30 minutes later than scheduled, with close to 20 participants, beating drums and other instruments, singing, chanting and calling on their ancestors to not only bless the day, but all people of African origin in the country.

The procession began at the panyard on Duke Street, and then proceeded to Piccadilly Street and on to Independence Square where the participants ended at the Treasury Building where the Emancipation Declaration was signed 177 years ago and celebrated for the past 173 years yesterday.

Speaking with the Express yesterday during the procession, Zakiya Uzoma-Wadada, a member of the Orisha faith and participant in this year’s Drum Call, said the idea behind the exercise is in essence a message to the ancestors.

“We are using the time to give thanks and praises to our ancestors for all their blood, sweat and tears,” Uzoma-Wadada said, adding “it is a tribute to our ancestors because we are showing them that we can walk on this earth as we are, not as slaves but a beautiful, creative people”.

Uzoma-Wadada added that the loss of using the drum is symbolic of “losing part of ourselves”.

When asked what can be done to curb the number of African descendants involved in criminal activity, Uzoma-Wadada said the education system needs to be revamped and teach about the Africans prior to slavery to show the children where they came from.

“We have to educate ourselves about ourselves. African people are the only people on earth who do not educate themselves about themselves,” she added.

For original article: …Drum Call a ‘tribute to the ancestors’ | Trinidad Express Newspaper | News.

Emancipation Festivals

173rd anniversary of emancipation

173rd anniversary of emancipation | CNC3.


Know Your Culture dance group holds second annual cultural gala


Dancers in 18th century quadrille costume

Know Your Culture dancers shone vibrantly in a variety of Dominica’s cultural attire at their second annual cultural gala held on Saturday July 30th in New Jersey.

The groups founder, Sabina George-Mingo works tirelessly with Dominican citizens and their children, in teaching dances such as, flirtation, waltz, belle’, quadrille, heel & toe. Adults got rave reviews from the audience as they graciously danced the 18th century waltz and kids bounced around on stage with bows and arrows, performing Karifuna, while teen men & women danced the quadrille, all showcased on Saturday.

A live band serenaded the audience and dancers with cultural rhythms and musical instruments such as the boom boom, shack shack, accordion and drums.

Sitting in amazement was a hall filled with Dominicans and foreigners, who felt deep memories as their island’s culture came alive. Sabina ensures that every segment was perfect! From the dancers array of brightly colored attires, including jazzed up fullers and head pieces, hyped movements and stunning smiles.

Enticing dishes such as salt fish with bakes, peleau, fruit juices and other delicious foods were served.

Please visit for more information on upcoming events, pictures and information on the organization.

A special thank you to all supporters and sponsors.

For original article: Know Your Culture dance group holds second annual cultural gala | Dominica News Online.


Thousands celebrate Emancipation Day at National Park

Thousands of Guyanese made the annual journey to the National Park to celebrate Emancipation Day yesterday. And this year, things were to be spiced up given celebrations for International Year for People of African Descent. The rains, however, marred attendance.
Many dressed in flambouyant African wear, while others dressed casually for the day out – mostly geared towards the cultural show. This was despite the fact that it rained for most of the morning, and the weather remained cloudy for the rest of the day.
The activity is held every year by the African Cultural Development Association, ACDA. President Bharrat Jagdeo, Prime Minister Samuel Hinds and his wife Yvonne, Presidential Candidates of the main political parties, Georgetown Mayor Hamilton Green, and members of the Diplomatic Corp were on hand for the celebrations.
While the cultural programme was being staged, President Jagdeo and Presidential Candidate of the ruling PPP, Donald Ramotar, greeted those who were in the National Park.
African drumming helped to create a lively atmosphere as patrons either tried to get African foods, African-inspired jewelry, craft, and even literature.
The celebrations organized by ACDA were held within the theme of the United Nations International Year for People of African Descent (IYPAD): “Recognition, Justice, and Development” for our Emancipation Festival.” ACDA added the sub-theme “Re-uniting the African Family” to add focus to this year’s celebrations.
Ghana, which was the first country south of the Equator to gain Independence from Colonial rule in 1957 and also the first African country on the Continent of Africa to celebrate  Emancipation, also used the theme “Re-uniting the African Family” as both its Emancipation and IYPAD themes.
Every year, ACDA chooses one African country to celebrate, but this year decided to capture inspiration from all 54 African countries.
“The celebration of Mother Africa underscores the reality that Africans were brutally dispersed throughout the World during the Arab and European slave trades and most Africans in the Diaspora cannot be sure of which African country their fore parents and ancestors lived in,” ACDA said.
ACDA also stepped away from its tradition of recognizing one African village for the Emancipation celebrations and instead decided to celebrate the more than 100 villages bought by African ancestors after Emancipation.
A visiting Mexican Folk Dance Group also performed at yesterday’s ceremony, much to the delight of the crowd.

For original article: Thousands celebrate Emancipation Day at National Park : Kaieteur News.


African Heritage Celebrated

The President of the St. Andrew’s Development Organization (SADO), Martha Bowen, has reminded Grenadians of the importance of celebrating their African heritage.

“We must keep that flame burning,’’ Bowen said August 1 at the SADO-sponsored 2011 Emancipation Day celebrations and Rainbow City Festival in St. Andrew.

Emancipation Day commemorates the official proclamation of 1838 when enslaved Africans working on sugar plantations in Grenada and other British colonies in the Caribbean were granted their freedom from chattel slavery.

According to Bowen, Emancipation gave the fore-parents of today’s Africans “the freedom to express themselves and to practice all their customs and traditions.’’

She added that the customs and traditions are now part of “our culture. It is part of us, even though we may be influenced by outside culture. We still have to hold on to what is unique – our African roots.’’

Emancipation Day included a march around the Town of Grenville, a cultural show and an exhibition of locally made craft, clothing, food and drinks at the Grenville Car Park.

Bowen said the event “remains an exhibition of our Grenadian culture centered around Emancipation.’’

Among the hundreds from St. Andrew and across Grenada who attended the August 1 celebration of Emancipation was MP for St. Patrick East, Prime Minister Hon. Tillman Thomas.

The theme of the Rainbow City activities was, “Celebrating our African Heritage with the Spirit of Emancipation”.

For original article: » African Heritage Celebrated.