10 years in the making, my book,
Ultimate Guide To Great Reggae",
is out! Five chapters of all new content on mento, plus the best of
every style of reggae! 600 pages of great artists and great
songs, telling the complete story of reggae.
for more information.
You'll love it!
If you should ever visit Port Antonio, they still
talk about how back in the 1950s, The Jolly Boys would play at Hollywood
parties that film star Errol Flynn would throw at his Port Antonio estate on
Some accounts have the beginnings of the Jolly Boys dating back to the
1940s. A 2010 article by Dan Neely (a
link to it can be found at the bottom of the page) clears
this up and gives us the best account of the
earliest days of The Jolly Boys:
In winter of 1946, Errol Flynn purchased Navy
Island. For the next decade it became the staging point for his unending
party that is today the stuff of legend. The entertainment Flynn
featured most often in those days was a small local group called the
Navy Island Swamp Boys which consisted of Noel Lynch on Guitar, Moses
Deans on banjo and “Papa” Brown on rumba box. When this group broke up
in 1955, Moses and Papa reformed the group with Derrick “Jonny” Henry
on maracas & drum, Martell Brown on guitar, and David “Sonny” Martin on
guitar. When Papa couldn’t make gigs, Allan Swymmer was brought in (he
later became a permanent member). Legend tells us that Errol Flynn named
this group “The Jolly Boys” after the vibe he caught from their playing.
These earliest lineups do not appear to have recorded.
Jonny was just 16 when founding member Moses
Deans asked him to join the band in 1956. The last original Jolly Boy, he
passed in March of 2019.
The earliest photos and most complete information on a Jolly Boys
line up comes from Gloria Aspinall of the US (more on
Gloria and her book appears later on this page). She has kindly
contributed the above photo, circa 1964, and remembers the Jolly Boys line up in the
1960s as being:
Moses Deans - banjo and guitar, and the group's
David Martin (a.k.a. Sonny) - maracas
Brown - guitar
Derrick “Jonny” Henry - rumba box
Some time near the late 1950s, The Jolly Boys
played several seasons in the US, mostly in New Hampshire.
In Gloria's second photo, below, which she dates
as being from the early 1960s, Gloria recognizes Moses, Brown, Jonny
and probably Sonny, though this is not certain, as he looks heavier than
she remembers. They are performing in the back of a truck advertising a
charity raffle to win a Ford Anglia. Tickets available at Woolworth's,
Chin's Supermarket and Doctors ... something illegible.
Here is an advertisement from
Daily Gleaner of July 17, 1962 for a calypso band contest. The Jolly
Boys represent Port Antonio. Less familiar names represent other parts of
Meanwhile, we also learn from Dan Neely's
article, of a Jolly Boys off-shoot group and how another key member was
The Mockingbirds was
generally led by Allan Swymmer. It was at a gig in 1961 that Moses met
future Jolly Boy Joseph “Powda” Bennett, who at the time was playing for
people rafting down the Rio Grande; the two hit it off and formed an
informal band that lasted for two years. (It was Moses who later pulled
Powda into the band.)
By the end of the
1960s, the Jolly Boys had became an important part of the north coast’s
entertainment industry, often performing with dance troupes in
floorshows for elite Port Antonio visitors. One of the dance troupes the
Jolly Boys very often performed with was led by Albert Minott, a young
man of extraordinary talent. Albert specialized in hand-walking and fire
eating, and impressed his audiences with his daring feats, but he also
loved mento music. When he wasn’t busy dancing alongside the Jolly Boys
in the floorshows of the 1960s, he joined them on rumba box whenever he
This included a six month stint, filling in for a
sick member. It would take almost 50 years, but Minott would
be promoted to The Jolly Boys' lead singer in 2010. Albert remembers:
all began when I ran away as a boy in 1950. My father was very very strict
and he used to beat me with a thick leather strap. One day I'd been playing
cricket and forgot the time. I knew I'd have the strap and have it hard so I
ran away. When I was 12 to get by I used to pick bananas cut cane and hang
out by the cruise ships and shout to the tourists: 'Hey ma! Hey pa! Throw
something over!' They would throw a coin into the water and we'd dive in and
find it. Then a friend taught me how to be an acrobat and we used to walk on
our hands do somersaults and do the fire dance to earn money from the cruise
ships that came to Port Antonio.
"The original band leader Moses asked me to play rumba box now and again in
the 60s. Then 12 years ago I came and started singing and playing the guitar
used to do our dance for people like the Aga Khan and Baron Heini Von
Thyssen at these beach parties where you'd get all the Hollywood stars like
Burt Lancaster and Robert Mitchum. We used to see Errol Flynn all the time.
He came to Port Antonio in the early 50s and lived on his boat Zaca with his
wife Patrice. The boys used to row up on a boat and play for rum and a few
dollars. He loved The Jolly Boys. [Dean Martin and] Elizabeth Taylor used to
come here all the time with Richard Burton. That was the big rumour yeah man
[that JFK came surreptitiously with Marilyn Monroe] but it was all a secret.
From here, the trail gets
a bit hazy. According to the excellent reference book,
Roots Knotty Roots,
two singles from 1967 were released by "Hazel &
The Jolly Boys". But these reggae recordings were apparently by another
group using that name. Roots Knotty Roots also lists five Jolly Boys singles
released from 1970-1972 that were produced by Harry Mudie, an example is
seen to the right. (There was at least one more than that.) These tracks
are, once again, reggae, not mento, and it is very unlikely that any of
these releases to have anything to do with the mento group by the same name.
The Daily Gleaner
September 30, 1967
By this time, The Jolly Boys has spun off to two separate groups.
Dan Neely's article tells us that because it was for economic reasons rather than a
falling out, both Jolly Boys bands remained on good terms. Swymmer's
group moved to St. Ann. He and and another singer, Dee Davidson, both served
as lead vocalist. They recorded singles and two LPs. Moses' group does not
appear to have recorded.
The first true Jolly Boys recording was the 1972
single that consisted of two original songs, produced by Allan Swymmer:
"Take Me Back To Jamaica"
(Allan Swimmer, lead vocals), backed with
"Thousand Of Children" (Donald Davidson, lead vocals)
Confusingly, when it was released
in Jamaica, the band was referred to as the "Jally Boys". Below is the
single, released on The Jallyboys label. Both sides are credited to
Donald Davidson and The Jallyboys.
When this 45 was released in
Great Brittan, on the Fab Records label, as seen to the right, the songs were credited to
Allan Swimmer and to Dee Davidson, with the words Jolly
Boys totally absent from the label.
Jeremy Collingwood of
London found a copy of "Take Me To Jamaica" on The Jallyboys
label that corrects the credits on the previous two pressings. It
reads "Allan Swimmer and The Jally Boys".
"Take Me Back" was remade 18 years later
on The Jolly Boys LP, "Sunshine 'n' Water". "Thousands of
Children" was included on the
1977 Jolly Boys album, The Roots of Reggae.
In 1973, the Jolly Boys released their second singe:
"Build On The Rock",
As seen to the
right, this single was released on the Jallyboys
label, but the a-side is credited to Pinkey and Allan, while
the b-side is credited to the reverse. Allan is, no doubt,
Allan Swimmer, but it's a mystery who Pinky is, unless it's an
name for Donald "Dee" Davidson. Both songs are sung duet style.
The A-side also was collected on the The Roots of Reggae album.
Jamaican folk song "John Tom" was neither collected nor remade by
In August 2003, I heard from Ken Bilby, who
produced the Jolly Boys first LP and is a lifelong mento fan. Although some
of the details are murky, Ken believes that the two Jolly Boys line ups both
may have come from the original line up:
When I recorded the group in the 70s (the first
recording I made of them was in 1975), it appears there were two groups of
the same name existing and performing at the same time... one based in St.
Ann, the other in Portland (the parish where Port Antonio is located).
Donald Davidson was then head of the group in St. Ann. The common link
between the two appears to have been Alan Swimmer, who participated in some
of the singles recorded in the early 70s, which also featured Donald ("Dee")
Davidson. Swimmer, however, was not present in St. Ann when I recorded that
group. So it is likely that both the St. Ann and Portland bands are
connected to the original Jolly Boys. Some members from both were probably
once together in the same band, and then at some point split up, both
keeping the original name. In any case, by the 1970s, the Port Antonio group
had more members from the original band, since they had some older musicians
(and at least one founding member, Moses Deans).
In 1977, world-music label Lyrichord
Discs released on LP and cassette, the first Jolly Boys LP, "The
Roots of Reggae", produced by Ken Bilby. Regrettably, it has been out of
print for some time. This LP is the start of the international
resurgence in mento's popularity.
Ironically, Ken Bilby explains that the international market was not the
original intent for this LP.
The Lyrichord Jolly Boys LP that I recorded and
produced came about at the request of Donald Davidson and other band
members. The idea was that they would be able to sell copies to guests at a
hotel called Club Caribbean in Salem, St. Ann, where they had a regular gig.
When I returned to Jamaica in 1978, I brought them a few copies of the LP,
along with the cash advance for the record. They were very excited by the
final product. We all met with the manager of the hotel, who was excited
too, and very much in favor of selling it on the premises. He tried to
import several hundred copies, but the plan ended up failing because of the
import restrictions (and heavy tariffs) then in effect. There appeared to be
no way to get around the problem. This is why the band then went into the
studio and locally produced an LP for themselves [The Jolly Boys At Club Carribbean,
so that they could sell it out of the hotel.
It's a rural mento collection originals, mento classics and two reggae
covers. Unlike later releases from the mento resurgence, which were
relentlessly upbeat, this LP features a number of tracks that are quite
mournful by comparison. This is not meant as a criticism, as these tracks
are no less enjoyable.
The line up and track listing of this LP (and cassette, as seen above,
right) is as follows:
Donald Davidson: guitar, vocals
Fitz Ramus: maracas, vocals
Leon Morrison (alias Shorty): repeater (traditional Rastafarian
Sterling Thomson: rumba-box (bass sanza)
Luther Summerville: four-string banjo
Special thanks to George Dillon of Lime Hall for banjo on Linstead
Market, Water the Garden, Pomp and Pride, and Joy Bells.
1. Oh Carolina
2. Pomp And Pride
4. Thousands of Children
5. Water In The Garden
6. Beautiful Garden
7. Build On The Rock
9. Fat Wife
10. Joy Bells
11. Linstead Market
tracks are examples of the mournful sound of some tracks by the
Saint Ann version of The Jolly Boys. Sara, on the
other hand, is an upbeat, very country sounding track.
harder to find 1979 Jamaican release "The Jolly Boys At Club Caribbean", on Sonia Pottinger's High Note label. (Thanks to Olivier
Albot of France for dating this release for me.) This LP contains different renditions of several songs found on
the Lyrichord LP. It did not include personnel info, but
luckily, the original owner of this LP happened to pen in the band
member's names when he bought this souvenir.
As seen below, the line up is largely the
same as on the Lyrichord LP, giving us the only photo of a 1970s line up.
From right to left (excluding the waitresses, who are helping the boys
stay jolly), these Jolly Boys are:
Donald Davidson: guitar
Bongo Shorty: repeater
Luther: four-string banjo
Prince Romeo: maracas
Desmond Rust: congas
The Jolly Boys At Club Caribbean:
1. Jamaica Farewell
2. Club Caribbean
3. Big Fat Wife
4. I Know You Are A Child
5. Dip And Fall Back
1. Hurry Up
3. The River Has Come Down
4. Love One Another
5. The Beautiful Garden
Here's another autographed copy of "The Jolly Boys At Club
Caribbean". This one reads. "Dear friend Pam, May the good lord bless you
until we meet again. One love, Sister Lu Lu + Donald and The Jolly Boys,
providing the perfect segue to the release below.
At the end of 2020, this LP was rereleased as part of the collection called
The High Note Mento Collection.
Additionally, there may or may not have been a
re-release of "Thousands of Children" credited to Dee Davidson and
Alan Swimmer. "Built on the Rock" may have been re-released at some
point, re-titled as "Judy Drowneded". And there may have been at least
one Jolly Boys single from this era credited to "The Jolly Brothers".
Also, to confuse the matter a little more, the was was a different roots
reggae act in the late 1970s called "The Jolly Brothers" as well as an earlier, totally
unrelated, African Juju music act called "The Nigerian Jolly Boys
Orchestra". And there was a rock band in the USSR called "The Jolly
Boys" during 1970s and 80s that released at least 2 LPs.
These re-releases may or may not have been
related to the fact that, as Ken Bilby explained, some of these tracks
were released as 45 rpm singles by producer Harry Mudie. On these 45s, the
sound was "muddied up" and presented in mono to give the impression that
these were old mento recordings, perhaps from the 1950s. Those 45s have
since turned up in a few collectors' catalogues.
More interesting Jolly Boys information from Ken
Leon Morrison (aka, Shorty, or Ras Shorty) -- a
dreadlocks Rasta man -- ended up "repatriating" to Africa. By the 1990s he
was living and working as a musician full-time in Ghana, and he plays a
small role in a book about the African diaspora (and about "return"
migration to Africa) by Caryl Phillips, The Atlantic Sound (2000).
The next Jolly Boys' related release was an
obscure LP, but not by The Jolly Boys. "Beautiful Garden" was recorded by
Donald and Lulu Davidson and The Wailers. It was released in Germany on
the Third World Sound Ltd label in 1982, and as such, is probably the
first work that the instrumental Wailers did after the passing of
Bob Marley. The Wailers' line up consists of the Barrett brothers
(drums and bass), Junior Marvin (lead guitar), Wire Lindo
(keyboards), Seeco Patterson (percussion), Leroy Hamilton
(rhythm guitar), and Stephen Stewart (keyboards). They back husband
and wife Donald and Kevan "Lulu" Davidson, who both sing and play
acoustic guitar. This gives Donald Davidson a unique place in the history of
Jamaican recorded music. Who else has recorded LP backed by both The
Jolly Boys and The Wailers?
Recorded at Tuff Gong in Jamaica, the producer is
billed as "Martin, The White Man at Tuff Gong". All songs are credited to
Donald and Kevan Davidson, except two credited to Bruce J. Coleman
and one that is listed as a traditional Jamaican song. Three of Davidson's
Jolly Boys songs are heard here: a reworking of the title track,
previously heard on both 1970s Jolly Boy's LPs, as well "Love One Another"
and "I Know You Are A Child", both originally heard on the "Club Caribbean" LP.
The music is not at all mento, but instead
reggae. It sounds like a slightly lighter and less adorned (there are no
horns on this recording) version of Marley's "Kaya" LP. Two
exceptions to the reggae rule are "I Know You Are A Child", which has more
of a do-wop arrangement, and the sparsely backed "Beautiful Garden", which
is performed as a spiritual. Lulu's voice is very good and her higher
register is a good complement for Donald's baritone. They sing the entire LP
in duet fashion. In this musical context, Donald sometimes sounds
reminiscent of Peter Tosh.
Side 1: 1. Just Cool Runnin's (Donald and Kevan Davidson)
2. You Better Believe It (Donald and Kevan Davidson)
3. I Know You Are A Child (Donald and Kevan Davidson)
4. Lulu, What We Gonna Do (Donald and Kevan Davidson)
5. Dream Of Me (old Jamaican song)
Side 2: 1. Love One Another (Donald and Kevan Davidson)
2. Marble Stones (Donald and Kevan Davidson)
3. I Never Wrote A Love Song (Bruce J. Coleman)
4. Destiny (Bruce J. Coleman)
5. Beautiful Garden (Donald and Kevan Davidson)
The LP contains a 36 page book, as seen below. I
would be indebted to anyone who can translate this and the jacket notes
from German to English.
When the Jolly Boys recordings next appeared on a
series of CDs released from 1989 - 1997. The line up was a remerging of the
two groups orchestrated by Deans. Swymmer brought Bennett into the fold. Dee
Davison was not involved, whose
recording career, as far as I have been able to determine, ended with the
above Wailers LP.
This was the most popular Jolly
Boys line up. They would record 4 CDs and tour the world. This Jolly Boys
line up consisted of:
Allan Swymmer -
Lead vocal and drum
Moses Deans - Banjo and vocals
Noel Howard - Guitar and vocals
Joseph Bennett - Rhumba box and vocals
(With the addition, on the
live CD, of
Renford Bailey - Maracas and vocals)
"Pop and Mento" was re-released by British
label Cooking Vinyl (www.cookingvinyl.com)
in early 2004.
Jurjen Borregaard of Amsterdam is the label and back jacket of the
Jamaican LP release of "Pop 'n' Mento". The label is First Warning,
distributed by Sonic Sounds. Please note that the larger
image of the back jacket is big to allow legibility.
"Live In Tokyo",
(1997, Respect Records. Performance:
June 26, 1990)
The 3 studio CDs are
recommended as an excellent way to hear
resurgent mento. As of 2011, these
out-of-print CD are being made available as digital downloads from
Ken Bilby provides the following biographical
information on two of the Jolly Boys:
Moses was of Maroon descent -- his family was
from Moore Town -- and Joseph, aka "Powder," is actually a Maroon from
Charles Town; he also knows how to play some Maroon drumming styles; in
fact, I actually studied Maroon drumming with him briefly in 1978.
Thanks again to Gloria Aspinall,
this time for these two photos she shot in 1993. The first is of the band on
tour, performing at Springfield Massachusetts. It shows Moses, Joseph and
Allan. The second has the whole band back at home base, the Trident Hotel in
also alerted me
to the fact that Moses Deans appeared briefly
and uncredited in the 1989 movie The Mighty Quinn. He is seen playing the banjo in a
scene where a mento trio join Denzel Washington, who is playing the piano. A
video capture is seen to the left.
Occasionally, a Jolly Boys track from one of the
releases turns up on a compilation, such as "Putumayo Presents Calypso:
Vintage Songs From the Caribbean", the RYKO Records sampler,
"Steal This Disc" and Cooking Vinyl release, "Hootenanny
Folk". In some editions of the Microsoft's
Encarta CD-ROM encyclopedia, there is a reference to mento, along with a
sound clip of the Jolly Boys' "Take Me Back To Jamaica". This clip was my
first exposure to the sound of mento.
Sadly, Moses Deans, original Jolly Boy, passed in
Christmas of 2001, my wife, Grace, and I traveled
to Port Antonio, (where, 50 years later, they are still based) to see the Jolly Boys play. Below is her account along with
I planned our trip around the primary reason for our journey, the
performance schedules of the two Jolly Boys groups who were performing
the Dragon Bay Hotel. It was gratifying to see the respect that the
hotel staff paid to The Jolly Boys. We were saddened to learn that banjo
player Moses Dean, said to be the last of the original Jolly Boys, had recently died.
As a result of some sort of rift between Allan Swymmer (formerly the
group’s lead vocalist and bongo player) and Joseph Bennett (who had been
the rhumba box player and backing vocalist), Alan Swymmer formed his own
group. It's is alternately called "Allan Swymmer’s Mento Band", or, by
some, "The Jolly Boys".
The other Jolly Boys group was now led by Joseph Bennett (or "Powda", as
he is also known) who became the group’s lead vocalist and maraca
player. Noel Howard continued on guitar and backing vocals. A new rumba
box player and an incredible banjo player were added [probably Wah
Watson], but unfortunately,
we did not get their names.
We got to see and hear each of the two Jolly Boys groups twice. In Allan
Swymmer’s group, Allan is the lead guitarist and vocalist and his voice is
still strong and pleasing. But that voice deserves a stronger musical cast
than the rumba box player and the relatively weak banjo player he was
accompanied by. The only member in Mr. Swymmer’s group that could be called jolly
in any way was Allan Swymmer himself. Upon our request, they performed
Jolly Boy’s songs for us, but he generally seemed to steer clear of that
repertoire. We talked with him at the end of both of his performances
and he was a very nice man, who seemed genuinely thrilled by our interest
in and love of his music.
Although Mr. Bennett's voice doesn't have the power and range of Allan Swymmer’s, it is
very endearing and distinctly Mento.
He also plays the maracas with such precision that you are left with the
impression that he fully commands the motion and sound created by
each individual bead. At various points in the performance, Mr. Bennett does some
delightful Jamaican soft shoe dancing. This adds to
the sweet island spirit of this truly jolly group. We later learned that
Powda won many ska dance competitions in the 1960s.
At the end of their first performance, we thanked The Jolly Boys for
sharing their great music with us and we relayed a happy birthday wish
to Powda from Dan Neely. He was very pleased at this, as he bowed in
gratitude. They seemed truly flattered by our delight in their music and the fact that we
traveled all the way from New York to see and hear them
play… gotta love that! Later that evening, by chance, we ended up
sharing a ride in the hotel’s van with The Jolly Boys. It was all very
wonderful and surreal.
On the same trip we saw
Upstanding Mento Band, Trident Villas,
A very effective mento duo, with a guitarist/lead
vocalist and a rumba box/backing vocalist, who added percussion by slapping
the side of the rumba box. The singer had a deep, soulful voice. Little did
we know that he was Albert Minott, who had performed
past with The JBs and would one day be their lead singer.
performed our requests including the ones he didn’t know! (He improvised a
new song to the title on the spot.) They performed one original song with a
haunting melody, called Evening Dress.
When we asked them what their name was, he paused
for a moment, looked skyward and then said with great sincerity that they
were The Upstanding Mento Band. Most enjoyable!
Joseph Bennett - lead singer, maracas and
Lindsay Lynch - banjo and singer
Henry Derrick - rumba box
Noel Howard - guitar and singer
This site also contains information on the JB's, pictures, posters, song clips, screen backgrounds, and even a video clip of them performing.
While we're on the
topic of video, here is another video clip. It's a 2003 Jolly Boys
performance of "Ben Wood Dick". Though only 46
seconds long, small and blurry, the clip is a joy to see and hear nonetheless.
This version is quicker, lighter and sweeter than the ones found either on
the "Pop 'n' Mento" or "Live In Tokyo"
CDs. The Jolly Boys are timeless. This clip comes to
www.mentomusic.com with the
permission and the courtesy of the BBC.
In 2006, Canadian banjo player Andrew Roblin
traveled to Port Antonio to record with Allan Swymmer, Roy Harris on
rumba box and Melbourne the Drummer. They played a nice loose set of
mento, reggae and at least one original Swymmer song at Frenchmans Cove.
In October 2007, this session was released by Roblin as "Hear Duppy
Laugh", available from
participants play well, and Swymmer's voice has never been better.
Interestingly, his voice sounds more traditionally mento was in the
A month later, a second CD was released of a
show at Jamaica Heights in Port Antonio prior to the one above. "Jamaica
Heights" features Allan Swymmer, lead vocals and guitar, Andrew Roblin,
banjo, and JoAnn Nicolas, rumba box. There is a good number of old
Jamaican mento/folk songs remembered here, plus some new originals by
Swymmer. It sounds as nice as the above CD. "Jamaica Heights" is also from
The above links includes details on these release
and long song samples every track.
Also in October 2006, Kaye Terry of Knoxville,
Tennessee, provided the following update and photo on another former Jolly Boy,
Donald is well and performs at the Columbus Park in Discovery Bay
daily. He is seen in historical Jamaican dress, playing and singing
his songs to the visitors, where he sells his CD's to tourists. We
have also met his son Daniel, who performs under the name of "Raslee" who is also extremely
talented and is very devoted to music also. His primary goal is to
promote his father's music and has been copyrighting all of his father's
songs as well as his own. The death of his wife Lulu took a real toll on
him, but he's trying to get back out there now and continue what he
That same year, Robert Wright of
Toronto, Canada also met
Donald Davidson. Although he was warded that Davidson was mad,
Robert came away quite impressed by the meeting. He provided the
The Jolly Boys were mentioned in Margaret Cezair-Thompson
2007 novel, "The Pirate's Daughter", a fictionalized account of the impact
of Errol Flynn's time in Port Antonio.
Jolly Boy Joseph "Powda" Bennett was
part of the 2008
"Lord of The West Indies" performance
at NYC's Jazz At Lincoln Center.
It was a night of great music, but it's fair
to say that Powda stole the show.
In 2010, The Jolly Boys story got even longer and
even better. They have a great new (old) lead singer, utilizing the
previously peripheral talents of Albert Minott.
There's a new CD, "Great Expectation" with a surprising, fresh approach. And
they are touring overseas for the first time in years.
They have a great new video that can be seen
below or on their media & communication filled new web site, www.jollyboysmusic.com
(make sure you check their TV commercial for ginger beer).
2. Perfect Day
5. Hangin' On The Telephone
6. Do It Again
7. Riders On
8. Golden Brown
9. I Fought The Law
10. Ring Of Fire
11. Blue Monday
12. You Can't Always Get What You Want
As you can see, producers Jon Baker Dale Virgo
and musical director Daniel Neely (who also
provided banjo and some guitar) chose a repertoire of rock songs from the
1950s thru today to give the project an entirely different feel. Likewise
some modern production elements like sequenced drums contribute their
"modern mento" approach. How does it sound? Well, released only in England
(US release in planned for early 2011 with Japan to follow), its currently
outselling all reggae albums. Even before this, the video for their cover of
Amy Winehouse's "Rehab" (embedded below) became a must-see viral sensation.
Comparisons to the Buena Vista Social Club abound, but The Jolly Boys' music
is far more accessible, so look out!
Sad news came on November 25, 2010 from his
family that Donald Davidson has passed away.
2011 started well for all involved with The Jolly Boys giving
this line up of the band their first NYC show. It was January 8, 2011 at BB
Kings nightclub. Here are some pictures:
The crowd was clearly there to see the act that
followed The JBs. But by the time "Ring Of Fire" was heard, Albert and
company had won the crowd over .
On February 24,
2011, The Jolly Boys again played NYC at The Hiro Ballroom. All in
attendance had a great time as the Jolly Boys' natural charm was in full
Compared to last month's
gig, Jonny is present on rumba box freeing Powda to provide maracas and
dancing. Jah Tea is on guitar and Brutus plays banjo throughout the
show, displacing the banjo player seen the previous month. Below are a
bunch of photos prom this gig.
Did you ever wonder what this JB lineup sounded
like playing traditional mento songs? The Jolly Boys have answered your
question with an iTunes digital download 5-song EP called "Classic Mento
From Port Antonio". It includes:
Dog War Inna Matthews Lane,
Night Food (the Chin's Calypso Sextet song),
Perseverance (the Count Lasher song)
Here are The Jolly Boys
performing at Port Antonio's Bush Bar at the end of
In 2012, just in time for the season, Funzalo
Records, who make The Jolly Boy's late 80s/early-90s albums
available on iTunes, released a surprise for fans of that JB's lineup.
Its the first release of a Christmas single, recorded some time in the
"Christmas A Come" b/w
"Long Time Ago In Bethlehem"
Joseph 'Powda' Bennett passed away in August
of 2014 at the age of 76 of a repertory illness. Bandmate Albert
Minott, who took the lead singer torch from Powda some
years ago remembers him best for his long and varied contribution to the
Jolly Boys and his sense of humor. Fans will not doubt add his
dancing to that list. No one could better steal the spotlight with a
subtle more of a leg.
From The Jolly Boys' Facebook account comes more sad news:
Albert Minott 14/09/38 – 29/06/17
Albert, lead singer of The Jolly Boys mento band since 2009, passed away
peacefully sitting on his veranda yesterday; he had suffered from
respiratory problems for some time. After just completing a new Jolly
Boys album, he was ready to launch ‘Day O’, its signature song. ...
Albert will be remembered as the voice and figure whose vibrant tones
and eclectic dance moves re-launched the band onto the international
music scene. Albert’s legacy will live on within the story of this
70-year-old group, one of the longest existing bands in the world.
March 2019, rhumba box player Derrick ‘Johnny’ Henry died.
He was 79, with 50 of those years plating with The Jolly Boys.
In June of 2019, news came of a replenished JB's lineup: ‘Brutus’
is still on banjo and is band leader, Donnovan ‘Puss’ Miller on
hand-drum, Karl Thompson on lead vocals and maracas, Lawrence ‘Larry’
Christie on rhumba box, and Noel Howard (who played with the band in the
’80s and 1990s) returns on guitar. They have plans to record an album
Gloria Aspinall's Book
Gloria Aspinall of New Hampshire, USA had an
interesting story to tell about her twenty five year relationship with Jolly
Boy Moses Deans. So much so, that she has written a self published a book, "Cast The First
Stone". She was a white conservative New England widow in her 30s when Deans
fell in love with her in the late 1960s. Their story explores the struggles
of a mixed race couple in the 1960s from Port Antonio, Jamaica to
Manchester, NH. Gloria remembers Moses as kind, spiritual, and loving, and
not having received the recognition he deserved.
"Cast The First Stone" is a 72 page spiral-comb
bound self published book. It can be purchased directly from the author by
$20.00 + $5.00 shipping to: