PORT Antonio-based mento band The Jolly Boys are continuing their trendsetting ways under the guidance and direction of manager and head of Geejam Records, Jon Baker.
Following a personal invitation from international recording artiste Sade, The Jolly Boys have announced that they will join Sade on her European tour this spring.
This is another notch in the belt of the group, which was once referred to as the 'toast of Port Antonio' with their traditional 'mento' music, and have after five decades been enjoying a remarkable revival.
It was the legendary film star Errol Flynn who, having purchased a small swathe of northeast Jamaica, would stage wild parties at his home, and provide his favourite entertainment in the form of a local mento band, whom he nicknamed The Jolly Boys.
Mento originated as country folk music, with origins in African sounds, but with influences from European and especially Celtic music. It pre-dated and influenced everything from ska to reggae and dancehall. However the electrification of Jamaica and the gaining of Independence in the 1960s led to the decline of mento music and a new musical voice, reggae.
It was in 2009 music producer Jon Baker suggested The Jolly Boys record a new album featuring some surprising contemporary cover versions, including Rehab — originally recorded by Grammy-winning artiste Amy Winehouse. With that, mento music and The Jolly Boys were re-introduced to both Jamaica and the world. The album Great Expectation, released last year, went on to receive rave reviews.
Since then The Jolly Boys have been taking their brand of Jamaican music across the globe, performing at some of the major international music festivals.
In their 60-year existence, a changing cast of at least 18 members has come and gone but now, with a combined age of 382, they make the Rolling Stones look like the Jonas Brothers'.
Since the release of their album, the band has performed on the BBC's Later with Jools Holland, as well as mesmerising audiences at the Cambridge Folk Festival, Secret Garden Party and The Big Chill. Now Sade's audiences will experience The Jolly Boys' special brand of Jamaican magic.