Rock | Exodus – Kingston, Jamaica

Irie™ Magazine | Rock - Exodus - Kingston, Jamaica

Serralheiro

The Locksmith

In March and April of 2004, Soul Majestic embarked on a full band Exodus to the birthplace of reggae and origin of the reggae genre, the island of Jamaica. While there, they recorded their sophomore album, ‘Until That Day’, at Bob Marley’s Tuff Gong Studio in Kingston, Jamaica. They had the honor of working with some of their heroes likr legendary artists / producers Sly and Robbie, as well as vocal artist Anthony B, and percussion veterans Sticky Thompson and Bongo Herman. We caught up with Soul Majestic to take us back to that magical time and share their experience in their own words (and pictures).

In Their Words

“Well, it was really a part of our mission to immerse ourselves in the culture as much as possible and be among the people. Instead of staying at a Hotel or resort we rented a small house in Bridgeport, Portmore (a suburb of Kingston). 10 of us (8 band, and 2 local friends) shared a concrete house with iron gates, giant flying cockroaches and 1 AC unit that sat in the back bedroom window. At night there was always the sounds of multiple songs floating through the air from every direction, mixed with an occasional gunshot. Sometimes when we were too fired up to sleep we would head out into the neighborhood to check out one of the many sound systems, grabbing a Juicy Patty along the way for sustenance. We felt relatively safe walking through the streets at night, even though Portmore had a reputation for crime and violence. Our local friends spread the word in the community that we were with them and it felt like everyone was kind of looking out for us. They took us to a few dances and a festival and showed us around the island.

The popular music of that moment in Jamaica was mostly dancehall, with sex and gun violence as the most prevalent topics. A far cry from the messages of social justice, love and unity of the seventies era that we had come to idealize. Though turning on the radio was a constant reminder of how Jamaica had modernized culturally, there were also many moments when it seemed like time had stood still. If you’ve seen Rockers and/or Country Man, sometimes it seemed those days hadn’t changed. Like crossing paths with Country Man riding his bike with no shoes or shirt on the way to Hellshire Beach, Chinna Smith and Big Youth showing up at Tuff Gong to greet us, and Horsemouth taking us on a private tour of Studio One only to meet the legend Coxsone Dodd (who passed just weeks later). King Stitch greeted us at the front door and The Congos were recording in the back room as Horsemouth gave us a demo on the dusty drum set that hadn’t been cleaning in over 30 years because as Horsie said, the dust was the magic. These were a few of these moments that had us feeling like we were witnessing a part of Reggae history in the flesh.

Tuff Gong was amazing. It was so surreal being there in Jamaica and working at Tuff Gong where Bob once stood! You could feel the vibration of Bob and the Wailers in the Walls (along with Chow, the studio’s tech wizard, who literally lived in the walls of Tuff Gong). Bob’s gold records hung on walls and the original board, organ, piano and reel to reel tape machine that once had Marley’s magic running through it, now had Soul Majestic’s! Not everything on our trip was easy, including having our producer at the time run off with our entire budget never to be returned to us again. We made it out alive and with an album and memories that will always stay with us. We continue to be good friends with Sly & Robbie, Shane Brown, Chris Miller and Anthony B, who we ended up touring the entire US with shortly after recording ‘Stand Up’ with him at Tuff Gong.”

Irie