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The Jolly Boys

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    The Jolly Boys On World Cafe This Jamaican duo formed more than 50 years, but are still going strong. Hear a live performance and an interview with the torchbearers of Jamaican mento music.

Mento is a style of Jamaican music, a calypso-flavored party music greatly used for storytelling.

It's not as famous as reggae, another Jamaican export, but it's recently been gaining more exposure with the efforts of groups like The Jolly Boys. They've been around since the early 1950s and were allegedly christened by legendary actor Errol Flynn, who often had the group with all of their mentos, calypsos and rumbas on his yacht. Over the decades, the Jolly Boys have seen their fair share of change, including the death and aging of some of its members. Over sixty years, there has been change in their line up, but the core group of members has remained surprisingly stable. Today, the touring band is a mix of the old and new: original members Albert Minott (lead vocals), Joseph “Powda” Bennett (vocals, maracas), Derrick “Johnny” Henry (rumba box) with three younger members--Dale Virgo (percussion), Donald Waugh (banjo) and Lenford “Brutus” Richards (guitar).

The Jolly Boys first gained a local reputation in Port Antonio (their hometown) as the best mento band around, playing for Hollywood visitors. Their fame began to spread internationally in the late '80s and early '90s. By 2010, the Jolly Boys had released their seventh album, a collection of canonical rock covers."Great Expectation" includes songs like Amy Winehouse's "Rehab", Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire", and Lou Reed's "Perfect Day". Of course, mento is a constant underlying influence--what better way to introduce this intriguing musical style to the world then through blending it with some of the best known songs to Western ears? "Great Expectations" contains traditional mento arrangements, but it also contains some great digital beats. The Jolly Boys deftly straddle a line between old and new, familiar and unknown--their years of experience and transitionary nature make this possible. 

The Jolly Boys just wrapped up a European tour this past May, where they enchanted audiences in Germany, Sweden, the Netherlands, and Ireland.

Hear the band talk with Michaela Majoun about the origin of their music and play live, including songs from their upcoming CD, "Great Expectation."


Set List:
EMMANUEL ROAD                      
THE PASSENGER                              
Recent Release: "Great Expectation"    
Release Date: Sept. 13, 2010
Label: GeeJam Recordings
Band Origin: Port Antonio, Jamaica

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