Fri | May 29, 2020

Redbones closes after 21 years with final seven hour Best of the Best series

Published:Sunday | May 27, 2018 | 12:00 AMMelville Cooke/Gleaner Writer
Della Manley performing with Bingistra
Kai Wakeling in performance.
Max Romeo
Chinna Smith, who has the final musical words as Redbones marked its 21st anniversary and relocation from 1 Argyle Road, New Kingston.

The depth of Redbones' connection with musicians and their live presentations, was underscored not only by the extended, diverse line-up which closed off its four-event Best of the Best series well after 3 a.m. yesterday but more so the brief stories host Enola Williams told about every performer in the over-seven-hour concert of mainly brief stage stints.

Of the many musicians and vocalists who stepped up to the semicircular stage for the last time, none have a longer tie with The Redbones Blues Cafe than O'zoune. As he stood at the keyboard, hands at the ready, Williams said, "O'zoune opened the original Redbones on December 6, 1996."

That was at 21 Braemar Avenue, and Redbones opened its Argyle Road venue in March 2010 yesterday's concert closing over eight years there. Addressing the next step, Williams said many persons were asking, and they are going into a new venture a hotel.

The myriad Redbones components, including the bar, restaurant, gallery and, of course, the music will be re-established there.

In turn, many of the musicians spoke about their Redbones connections, memories and commitment to its relocation. As the lead singer of rock band Downstairs said, "anywhere Redbones going, Downstairs is on the train." The outfit, which included their take on the Eurythmics' Sweet Dreams and Dennis Brown's Should I in their set, was part of a notably diverse line-up which included guitarist Seretse Small doing My Girl, with Desi Jones handling the sticks, and Sting Wray in the brass section among the band members to Della Manley and Kai Wakeling adding their guitars and voices to the large Bingistra.

It was Six Points, their standout sound, including a trumpeter, which brought up midnight, and provided the music for a goodbye moment to Redbones which showed its growth.

Williams said that on the last night at the Braemar Avenue venue, a group shot was taken, "but we can't do that tonight, there are many more people here. We are going to do a drone shot. We want everyone to say 'hi, bye' to the venue." That was duly done as the drone whirred overhead.

Although the numerous performers required many band changes, the interludes in which the DJs, including Iset Sankofa, played, were brief.


Live music momentum


This kept the live music momentum going, and an audience which accepted an eclectic fare from solo singer Flavia, who taught them the chorus for a singalong to one of her original songs, to a electro style duo with glowing glasses and lighted linings on their long jackets, engaged. Percussionist M'Bala included guitarist/singer Charmaine Limonius in his call-up of participants, and Williams described Black Zebra and the Free Willies as Redbones' resident bands.

Ras Michael Jnr., accompanied by handclaps and two harmony vocalists as well as drum and his guitar, did Revolution and said it was his first solo stint at Redbones and is looking forward to a full set at the new location. And there were generations represented in the Bingistra's closing extended set with multiple guests and vocalists from the large, outstanding outfit, as Azizi Romeo preceded his father Max Romeo, whose 'Chase the Devil' came after two tracks which he was just getting to perform in Jamaica.

By the time the concert ended, the large audience had dwindled, and it was Chinna Smith who had the final musical word for Redbones at 1 Argyle Avenue, New Kingston, and Williams who bade all goodbye with "See you at the next venue. See you soon."