GOLDEN DAY AT GOLDEN EYE
Chris Blackwell, the man who brought reggae to the world via Bob Marley, turned his attention decades ago to developing the Jamaican vacation industry with upscale properties including Strawberry Hill in the Blue Mountains, The Caves on Negril’s cliffs, Jakes at Treasure Beach, and Golden Eye – the former home of James Bond creator Ian Fleming, that he has transformed into a collection of beautifully designed ‘rustic’ dwellings overlooking a spectacular beach on the north coast at Oracbessa.
It was there that he launched the Bizot Bar, a new extension to the beach in the form of a bar and restaurant named for French counter-culture connoisseur, Jean-Francois Bizot (1944-2007) — a world traveler, free-thinker, talent spotter and African music promoter who founded and edited the seminal French underground magazine Actuel in the 1970s. It was a magazine unlike all other publications that musician David Byrne described as, “A glossy, alternative view of the whole world, that reported on global culture — Fela Kuti, China, science, local oddballs, politics, art.”
n 1982, France’s president Mitterand changed the country’s media law and Bizot found a new medium from which to rock French culture: Radio Nova, a progressive station that came to Jamaica from Paris to broadcast live at the opening. The live broadcast continued throughout the day, with interviews of such reggae music icons as Toots Hibbert, Stephen ‘Cat’ Coore and Bunny Rugs of Third World, legendary guitarist Earl ‘Chinna’ Smith, Kiddus I, Italian-born reggae star Albarosie and singer Ieye.
The beach bar sits directly facing the wide blue sea and beach, with tables laid out on patios and such special features as a beautiful turquoise-and-gold tiled wading pool overlooking the water. Throughout the day buffet stations served a variety of delectable dishes, while the bar offered its signature Golden Eye mixed drink made with Blackwell Rum, as well a wide assortment of top liquors including champagne.
Other guests included Minister of Culture Olivia Grange, actor Carl Bradshaw, music power-broker Clifton ‘Specialist’ Dillon, film makers Carlo ‘Amlak’ Less (‘Rise Up‘), Storm Saulter (‘Betta Mus Come’), Jason, Sally and Justine Henzell, Paul Issa, visiting London actress Judith Hepburn, theatre producer Sheila Graham, lawyer Diane Jobson, banker Minna Israel, UWI Professor Carolyn Cooper, artists Judy Ann MacMillan and Neville Garrick, IRIE-FM DJ Ron Muschette, composer/producer Makonnen Hanna and society columnist Chester Francis Jackson.
Special guest and Blackwell BF Jimmy Buffet made a most spectacular departure from both the party and Jamaica, zooming in a low sweep over the gathering in his private jet which took off from the nearby Ian Fleming Aerodrome.
And a most spectacular late entrance was made by singer/actress/superstar Grace Jones dressed in a flowing hooded caftan and ever-present shades, accompanied by her film maker friend Sophie Fiennes with baby Lucky. The day ended late, with African drumming, music and happy vibes. A very good time was had by all.
RIDDIM EDITORS GIVE GLOBAL REGGAE LECTURE
Ellen Koehlings and Peter Lilly, editors of German reggae magazine RIDDIM, were the featured presenters of the 2nd Annual Reggae International Lecture, hosted by the Global Reggae Studies Center at Studio 38, New Kingston on Febuary 15. The event was presented by Professor Carolyn Cooper, founder of the Global Reggae Studies Unit, and introduced by E.U. Ambassador Marco Alemani, who said reggae music is about roots and freedom, which was why it appealed to the youth who have taken it around the world.
In an hour-long presentation titled “Burning Illusions: Celebrating 10 Years of Reggae Journalism in Europe“, the RIDDIM editors took turns speaking, as they explained how they came to discover reggae and then decided to become its advocates and promoters. Having grown to love the music, they were dismayed by incorrect and sometimes racist articles in German publications about reggae and the culture in which reggae was born, so they started writing articles to change misconceptions of that culture and make its stars known.
The magazine was first launched in 2001, featuring articles about all the reggae stars and some of the upcoming ones. Ellen and Pete started making annual trips to Jamaica in 2007, visiting cultural activities, historical Jamaican places and meeeting people at all levels of Jamaican cultural life. In 2005 Professor Cooper persuaded them to publish an edition in English which unfortunately lasted for only 7 issues, but led to even greater popularity of the magazine, both in Jamaica and Europe.
RIDDIM has helped launch the careers of artists countless Jamaican artists, as well as European artists such as Gentleman and Albarosie. The pages have included a Patois dictionary, articles on film, dance, theatre and art, the pages of RIDDIM are a history of Jamaican music seen through the eyes of two of the most fervent lovers of Jamaican culture. At the end of the presentaton, the large audience present showed their appreci-LOVE with generous applause and commendations.
LEGEND CAFE – AN OASIS @ THE MARLEY MUSEUM
Want a cool glass of lemonade? A toasted chicken sandwich? A hearty vegan gungo peas stew? Not only can you enjoy these culinary delights serenaded by the music of Jamaica’s reggae hero, but you may find yourself watching an impromptu football match with players including the Marley sons and their friends in the music industry !
This is the ambience at the Bob Marley Museum Legend Cafe, nestled under a massive mango tree that shades breezy, open verandahs and an enclosed dining room. Operated by charming Charmaine Elliott of Kingston Six Catering Co., the Legend Cafe offers tasty Jamaican cuisine that is both traditional and innovative, including Chicken and Fish (but no Pork). Vegetarians are specially catered to, with Stew Peas, Tofu and Vegetable Stew daily, as well as glorious salads and the legendary Ackee Puffs.
The lunchtime rush includes Museum tourists, take-away boxes for workers in nearby offices and special orders for meetings and parties. Legend Cafe hosts several functions each month, from birthdays, book launches and corporate functions, to live entertainment events at night featuring reggae stars, as well as up-coming artists.
There’s always a Marley son or daughter passing through this famous Kingston address, a documentary being filmed or a famous reggae star dropping by, and the Legend Cafe is an important participant in all the special events celebrating Bob Marley Month. The vibe and the food are always right at the Legend Cafe.