Welcome
  News
 
  Contact

 
Site search:
About mento:  What Is Mento?   What Mento Isn't    Can I Buy Mento Recordings? 
 Non-mento Cover Versions of Mento Songs    Related Sites 
1950s
artists:
  Lord Fly   Count Lasher    Lord Tanamo    Count Sticky  Lord Messam 
 Count Owen    Lord Flea    Lord Lebby    Harold Richardson & The Ticklers  
  Arthur Knibbs    Chin's Calypso Sextet, A. Bedasse, E. F. Williams & Ivan Chin  
Later
artists:
 The Jolly Boys    Stanley Beckford    The Hiltonaires   Lord Antics 
 Sugar Belly    Mento Bands Performing At Jamaican Hotels and Elsewhere 
 Carlton James and The Rod Dennis Mento Band   Naaman Lee 
More
scans:
More on
mento:
 More Artists and Favorite Song Clips    Download Mento Screen Backgrounds   Mento Video 
  Where Can I Purchase Mento T-Shirts?    The Jamaican Music Roadmap   Lyrics on this site
Mento related:  Bob Marley & The Wailers & mento   Toots & The Maytals & mento   Mento & Jazz    Foreign Mento 
 Harry Belafonte and mento    Edric Connor, Louise Bennett and Jamaican folk music    Mento Souvenirs 
  
The Jolly Boys

 

Page last revised: 8/29/14

 

Jump to:

   

The Jolly Boys have the longest and most tangled history in the annals of mento, and are still going strong.

 

1940s through the mid-1960s

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 Navy Island. 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 “Johnny” 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. d

These earliest lineups do not appear to have recorded.

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 founder
David Martin (a.k.a. Sonny) - maracas
Papa Brown  - guitar
Derrick “Johnny” 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, Johnny 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 The
Daily Gleaner of July 17, 1962 for a calypso band contest. The Jolly Boys represent Port Antonio. Less familiar names represent other parts of Jamaica.

Meanwhile, we also learn from Dan Neely's article, of a Jolly Boys off-shoot group and how another key member was recruited:

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.)

Late 1960s - 1979

Again, from Dan Neely's article:

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 could.

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:

It 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 with them.

We 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.


Ad from 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",  b/w
"John Tom"

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 additional nick 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 this band.

Thanks to Jeremy Collingwood (www.Traxonwax.net) for these two scans.


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, described below] 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 drum), vocals
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
3. Sarah
4. Thousands of Children
5. Water In The Garden
6. Beautiful Garden
7. Build On The Rock
8. Crackdown
9. Fat Wife
10. Joy Bells
11. Linstead Market

    

Clips from the Roots of Reggae LP:
[Click here for notes About the Audio Clips On this Site.]

Built On The Rock is a variation on the old folk/mento song, "Judy Drownded".

Thousands of Children deals with social issues of the day.

Both these 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.





The 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
Sterling: rumba-box
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
2. Sara
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.

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 Bilby:

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).

1980s - 1990s

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)

 

Below are the LPs this line up released, along with clips of some of my favorite songs.
[Click here for notes About the Audio Clips On this Site.]





The Jolly Boys,
"
Pop 'n' Mento",
 (1989
RYKO)
  1. Back To Back (Belly to Belly)
  2. Banana 
  3. Ben Wood Dick
  4. Big Bamboo
  5. Love in the Cemetery
  6. Mother and Wife
  7. Nightfall
  8. River Come Down
  9. Shaving Cream
  10. Ten Dollars to Two
  11. Touch Me Tomato
  12. Watermelon

"Pop and Mento" was re-released by British label Cooking Vinyl (www.cookingvinyl.com) in early 2004.

 
Courtesy of 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.    






"Sunshine 'n' Water",
 (1991, RYKO)

  1. Take Me Back To Jamaica
  2. Rachel
  3. Hold Me Jack
  4. My Pussin'
  5. Don't Fence Her In
  6. Bring Back Lou-Lou
  7. Woman's Smarter
  8. Ripe Tomato
  9. Bitter Cassava Killed Joe Brown
  10. Salt Lane Girl
  11. Red Head Girl
  12. Requimbine Song






"
Beer Joint and Tailoring,  
(1991, First Warning)
  1. BaBaDiYa (Miss A Ram Goat)
  2. Before the Next Teardrop Falls
  3. Donkey Want Water
  4. He'll Have to Go
  5. Iron Bar
  6. Mattie Belly
  7. Mattie Rag
  8. Never Find A Lover Like Me
  9. No Rice, No Peas, No Coconut Oil
  10. So Long Babylon
  11. Solas Market
  12. Tenement Yard
  13. We Want More Money
  14. Wheel and Turn Me






"Live In Tokyo",
 (1997, Respect Records. Performance:
    June 26, 1990) 

  1. Introduction
  2. Mother And Wife
  3. Ben Wood Dick
  4. Come To Jamaica
  5. Big Bamboo
  6. Water Melon
  7. Bang Bang Lulu
  8. Hol' Him Joe
  9. Feel So Nice
  10. Love It
  11. Banana
  12. Rachel
  13. Night Fall

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 Funzalo Records.

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 Port Antonio.

     

 

Gloria Aspinall 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 above 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 1998.

2001

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 her photos:


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 two 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.

Allan Swymmer's Jolly Boys,
Port Antonio, December 2001.
[Click on image for a larger version]
Joseph Bennett's Jolly Boys,
Port Antonio, December 2001.
[Click on image for a larger version]


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.



"Mento Calypso" is a CD we bought from Allan Swymmer.
It's actually a repackaged "Sunshine 'n' Water" on CD-R.
[Click on image for a larger version]

On the same trip we saw
The Upstanding Mento Band,
Trident Villas, Port Antonio

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 in the past with The JBs and would one day be their lead singer. He happily 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!

2003

A new web site http://www.Thejollyboys.com/shows.html lists tour
dates of a Jolly Boys line up that consists of the following personnel:

Joseph Bennett - lead singer, maracas and percussion
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.


Download the video:  

 
Jolly Boys 2003    (Real file format)

Courtesy of Valerio Marques here are two YouTube videos of The Jolly Boys performing in Montreal, Canada in 2003:

"Requimbine Song"

(a.k.a.: "Requimbine" or "Rukumbine" )

 
title unknown

2006 - 2008

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  CDBaby. All participants play well, and Swymmer's voice has never been better. Interestingly, his voice sounds more traditionally mento was in the past.

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  CDBaby.

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 Davidson:
  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 started.
 
 

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
picture, left

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.


Click here for more on this performance.

2010 -2014 

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).

 

1. The Passenger
2. Perfect Day
3. Rehab
4. Nightclubbing
5. Hangin' On The Telephone
6. Do It Again
7. Riders On The Storm
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 effect.

Compared to last month's gig, Johnny 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:

Emmanuel Road,         Dog War Inna Matthews Lane,         Soldering,
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 2011.

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 late 80s:

"Christmas A Come"   b/w 
"Long Time Ago In Bethlehem"

Search iTunes or try this link.

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.

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 sending $20.00 + $5.00 shipping to:

Gloria B. Aspinall
Box 405
Madison, NH 03849
USA

or contact her at glori7@localnet.com.

The excellent new for 2010 website www.jollyboysmusic.com  is rich with video, audio and news.

Dan Neely's full Jolly Joys article can be found here:
http://www.dalevirgo.com/blog/2010/06/the-jolly-boyshalf-a-century-of-mento-madness/ and on the above Jolly Boys page.

A 2010 feature in the UK Guardian: http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2010/jul/25/the-jolly-boys-music-jamaica-mento

A 2010 album review in the UK Guardian: http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2010/sep/12/jolly-boys-great-expectation-review

A 2010 appearance on Later Live with Jools Holland: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dLHZdMfzFdE

A 2010 feature on Sky News: http://news.sky.com/skynews/Home/video/Jolly-Boys-From-Jamaica-Sign-New-Record-Deal/Video/201008115676607

The television ad for the Great Expectation album: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vho-LDSYjrA

 

email me at:
mike@mentomusic.com

© 1999-2013 MentoMusic.com
All rights reserved.