LargeUp TV: The Jolly Boys’ New Wave Mento

Words and Direction by Jesse Serwer, Photos and Video by Georgia Blake

We were fascinated to learn the story of Jamaica’s Jolly Boys after hearing of them through their cover of Amy Winehouse’s “Rehab” last year and ecstatic to witness their Buena Vista Social Club-like emergence as wise re-interpreters of punk, new wave and other modern pop. Here was quite possibly Jamaica’s longest-running band, its members now well into their 70s, not only bringing mento music—a virtual relic confined to resort areas since the emergence of reggae four decades ago—back onto the world stage, and actually steering it in a new direction (with the help and supervision of Geejam owner/ music industry vet Jon Baker).

When the current touring incarnation of the Boys—frontman Albert Minott, a former hotel firedancer and longtime Jolly Boys affiliate who has only recently stepped into the role as the group’s frontman; founding member Derrick “Johnny” Henry; and Joseph “Powder” Bennett— came to New York City this past winter to promote their album Great Expectation, we jumped at the opportunity to spend some time with them. We watched as Albert, Johnny and Powder rehearsed for their show at Manhattan’s Hiro Ballroom (including a rousing rendition of Steely Dan’s “Do it Again,” then headed upstairs to a suite at the Maritime Hotel, where they performed acoustic versions of “Rehab” and “Iron Bar” for us, and answered our questions about mento, the rhumba box, their hometown of Port Antonio and their old friend and patron, Errol Flynn.

  • The Jollyboys were the opening act for SADE in Rotterdam. ( i just use a lot of pseudonyms with all that terrorism going on nowadays) really enjoyed it, the crowd i was in were so demanding and dissatified , there was a guy screaming SADE i love you all the time and it wasn’t me. The Jollyboys were very entertaining and opened the concert as it shud. sadly i did not buy their album at ahoy but i will in the future.

  • hello moderator at okayplayer could you get rid of all the adds on this website they are very disturbing and distracting

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