Rolando Meets Jumpin’ Joey on YouTube

Posted on June 11th, 2010 by JJ Loy

When I interviewed Joey Altruda in 2006, I was very impressed with the laundry list of musical legends the man has worked with…  Ernest Ranglin, Plas Johnson and especially Roland Alphonso.  So it’s no surprise how excited I got when I discovered that there is a TON of live JWJ material on YouTube, including a bunch of sets featuring Alphonso himself.

If you’ve never seen Alphonso or Altruda live, do yourself a favor and check this sound:

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Most of these videos have been uploaded by Jump With Joey drummer and co-founder, Willie McNeil.  Here’s a link to all of the JWJ videos that feature Roland Alphonso, 24 clips in all. [YouTube]

Comments (0) Jun 11 2010

Mikey Dread – RIP

Posted on March 17th, 2008 by JJ Loy

I must admit that I didn’t know anything about Mikey Dread when I heard that he died on Saturday. That is until I received this obituary, through Joey Altruda, which testifies to the power of one DJ:

Mikey Dread, gone from the control
Hailed as one of reggae greatest innovators
By Basil Walters Observer staff reporter
Sunday, March 16, 2008

Radio disc jock Mikey Dread is dead. He succumbed to a brain tumour late yesterday afternoon at his family home in Connecticut, USA at the age of 54. Born Michael Campbell in Port Antonio, Jamaica, he distinguished himself as an extraordinary studio engineer and presenter at the now defunct Jamaica Broadcasting Corporation (JBC) where he came to prominence in the 1970s as “The Dread-the-Control Tower”, the name of the late night show he presented at a time when reggae music was scoffed at by many.

Mikey Dread… hailed as one of reggae’s greatest innovators and original radio engineers/technicians, the past student of Titchfield High School, in 2006 celebrated the 30th anniversary of the night programme which he started at the JBC, and revolutionised the after midnight shift making it into the most popular slot on radio, by playing strictly dub music. This innovation is seen by many musicologists as the antecedence of dancehall as we now know it.

Upon leaving the JBC, Mikey Dread ventured into recording and scored with a number of releases such as Weatherman Skanking in combination with Ray I, Barber Saloon, Love the Dread, as well as albums such as Dread at the Control, Evolutionary Rockers and World War III. Over time he attracted the attention of British punk rockers, The Clash, who invited him to produce some of their music, the most famous of which is their single Bankrobber, and contributed to several songs on their 1980 album, Sandinista. Mikey Dread also toured with The Clash across Britain, wider Europe and the US.

He also worked closely with producer Trevor Elliot to launch musical career of singer Edi Fitzroy, who was then an accountant at the JBC. As the news of his passing surfaced yesterday, the Sunday Observer got comments from a number of persons in the media and the music fraternity, all of whom hailed Mikey Dread as a significant contributor to the development of Jamaican music. “His (Mikey Dread’s) work, is not only national or regional, but also international,” former JBC’s journalist Leslie Miles noted. “It spanned the world scene and made Mikey a pioneer broadcaster for playing dub music, and also redefined aspects of radio, especially night time radio” Miles, who is now head of news at Bess FM, also spoke of the struggle Mikey Dread faced at the conservative JBC. Music consultant Colin Leslie pointed out that the consequence of the “fight” he received from the management was putting him on at night, but that backfired.

“Remember he is a Portlander, so I always appreciated the fact that we shared the same alma mater (Titchfield High School), that is something I’ve always cherished and I hold him in high esteem. Although he was ahead of my era, he was somebody who laid an awesome foundation and was very unique and highly respected,” was how Richard “Richie B” Burgess of Hot 102, remembered Mikey Dread.

“We were at JBC together, and in those days when he started at the JBC dreads weren’t popular on the air. The powers that be in management really gave him a fight,” Ali McNab told the Sunday Observer.

“Michael Campbell, is someone who revolutionised radio in Jamaica when there was still an anti-Jamaican sentiment regarding music and culture. In terms of the emerging dancehall, it was Mikey Dread who popularised it on radio. Although it was late night, he still managed to popularise dancehall music and bring it to the masses,” was the perspective of Dennis Howard who also worked on JBC Radio, in the post-Mikey Dread era.

And Irie FM’s disc jockey, GT Taylor hailed the late Mikey Dread as a role model. “Reggae music in Jamaica, owes a lot that that brother. He was one man who stood up for reggae in the early ’70s, bringing the music to the forefront. He is one of my inspirations.”

Veteran singer Freddie McGregor attested to the fact that “Mikey Dread was one of the persons fighting the struggle for reggae music. Mikey and I did a lot of shows together over the years. A wonderful brethren”.

Comments (0) Mar 17 2008

05 – Vic Ruggiero – Conversations on a Revivalist Movement

Posted on April 16th, 2007 by JJ Loy

Being the band leader, songwriter, keyboard player, and vocalist of The Slackers, Vic Ruggiero is a very busy man. But he took an hour out of his schedule to talk to me in this, the final episode of the series.

Vic picks up where Joey Altruda left off, last episode, talking about working within a genre’s parameters. And Ruggiero also answers my many questions about his lyrics and the various themes that appear in them. In doing so, he represents the connection between American and Jamaican Roots Music. All this plus Vic’s take on fate, collective thought, and Os Mutantes.

You’ll also hear lot’s of live music from The Slackers, as well as New Vic Solo Stuff.

Links of Interest:

-The Slackers live sets on Archive.Org
- The Slackers merch page
- Ruggiero’s MySpace with Downloadable tracks for Free and for Fee
- JupUp Records sells Vic’s Japanese Solo Record, Hamburguru
- Vic and The Slackers on NPR
- And On Austin Radio

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Comments (1) Apr 16 2007

04 – Joey Altruda – Conversations on a Revivalist Movement

Posted on April 2nd, 2007 by JJ Loy


I was back on the phone to LA this episode. This time, to talk to Joey Altruda about his part in the California Trad Ska scene, as the leader of Jump with Joey. Not only has he played with many of Ska’s founders, as my other guests have, Altruda has genuinely befriended his Ska and Jazz mentors. He’s played countless shows with Ernest Ranglin and Plas Johnson, toured with Roland Alphonso, and produced sessions with Coxsone Dodd.

He also discusses the maturation of the LA crowds, and the few things American Ska fans have in common with the original Sound System audiences of yesteryear.

Links of Interest:

- Joey Altruda’s Myspace.
- A video interview with Joey, about a theme song he wrote.
- Amazon Link to Jump With Joey CDs. Mostly used, but cheap. And the buy now feature often links to a local shop somewhere.
- Altruda’s Merch Page
- A wonderful NPR story about Monty Alexander and Ernest Ranglin, with live music and interviews.

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Comments (2) Apr 02 2007