Amigo: How I Fell Into A Reggae Rabbit Hole
Yesterday (Sunday: 7/30/23) I was lead into a reggae music rabbit hole; and it’s all Doug Hitchcock’s fault. Thank you soooooo much!
He posted about The Blue Riddim Band and their song “Cus Cus”.
Doug made a claim about the band and the song … and me also no wahn fuss an’ fite, but dem feelin’ ain’t rite.
I love how music is relative to place, time, feelings, & connection. The ferocity of our love and passion for a song or band makes us want to share our feelings and opinions with everyone. ‘Cause you know … we’re right! lol
I really liked the Blue Riddim Band song. I had a feeling they were a local KCMO band the way Doug gushed about being able to see them often. This reminded me of my friend, & brother from another mother: Gary Crosslin, AKA Junior Smoots of Jersey Shore reggae band: Junior Smoots and the Disturbers.
Smoots was a local Jersey Shore reggae band. I met Gary at Mrs Jay’s, a bikers bar on Ocean Avenue, Asbury Park, NJ, circa 1982. My friend & college (CW Post Center of Long Island) mate Candie Brought turned me onto Gary & his band. The first time I heard them my jaw dropped to the floor. Here was a bunch of Jersey born and bread white boys playing roots reggae covers and originals as if they had been playing these “riddims” all their lives.
Gary & I became fast friends that night. During the first break my friend Candie introduced us, we started talking music—and it was like we knew each other all our lives. Three quarters of the band members all lived in a rental house in Wall, NJ. I’d visit Gary & we’d spin each other music from our vast collections. I would always love when I’d play him a new reggae or African song & he and the band would be playing it at their next gig—and owning it! They may have been white boys, but they were SERIOUS musicians, each and every one. Gary was a roots musician to the core whether it was reggae, African, blues, swing, or jazz.
I moved in with Gary & the band within a few months later—after I came back from my month-long backpacking, and Clash photo selling “tour” of England & France. I lived with them for a few of years, and 2 houses (Wall & Lakewood), until I moved into my Asbury Park store front circa 1986.
The “descent” down the hole started by listening and liking the Blue Riddim Band song. From there a quick search on Apple Music to find two other albums/EPs but not “Restless Spirit”.
I then looked on Amazon & found a copy of the “Restless Spirit” vinyl record going for $193.00 US. Wow!
Back to Apple music to listen to some of the available recordings—and from there—a click here & a click there through a few “similar artists” and before I knew it I hit on the band “Black Slate” and the title track to their 1980 album “Amigo”. From the opening chords, the phrasing, the cadence, I was transported. Somehow I KNEW this song. I could sing the lyrics. I knew the hard stops—and loved them.
I know I never owned the vinyl, nor had I listened to it on Apple Music. Then it dawned on me—the Smoots band use to play this song ALL THE TIME. And for all I knew then, it was a Gary original. I was in heaven being so blissed out I listened to it several times in a row. I added it to my “Big Up” reggae playlist.
Each time I hear “Amigo” I am transported to Mrs Jay’s, or the Harbor Inn, the Stone Pony or any of the places and times they played it—and I was there—on the dance floor moving, groovin’, and skankin’ to da riddim. The power of music! And though long gone—Gary and all the times we spent together—brothers—just fills my heart. The power of music. The power of love!
So Doug … thank you! It’s amazing the things that happen, and the journeys we are sent on via a song. Sure was a fulfilling trip down that rabbit hole!