Welcome! Log In Create A New Profile

Advanced

Yabby YOu fan re: Junior Byles at Sierra Nevada 1998

Posted by papaken 
Yabby YOu fan re: Junior Byles at Sierra Nevada 1998
February 15, 2014 08:37AM
Although I respect Chimino and jah Mike's opinion in the other thread, your honest questions deserve more answers considering the brevity and relevance of Junior Byles performance in 1998 at Sierra Nevada. The fact that the festival was essentially in its inception (3rd year) made the appearance of Byles even more anticipated (Augustus Pablo was also on the schedule but sadly fell ill and could not perform).
The performance was intense and significant to say the least.

The High Times Players started out jamming Mission Impossible, Chinna singing Homegrown, and then a killer concrete jungle instrumental(lineup listed below) before a voice without hesitation says," Ladies and gents, Junior Byles ." Everyone was shocked as High Times played the razor sharp intro notes to 'DA DA' and Byles strolled out with a look I can only describe as vunerably intense. At times, through the first 5 tunes, Junior's voice teetered from good to veering off the road completely. High Times was so capable though , they carried him through the tough moments and there were many in the brief set that included 'What the world is coming to,' ' A Place called Afica', 'Fade Away,' 'Beat down Babylon,' and 'Curly Locks.' What seemed like a 10 second break was followed by a simply amazing 'King of Babylon'. Then, in a flash, he was gone.

Old school scribe Steve Heilig, as described in 'THE BEAT', went backstage and finally found a somber Byles alone out by the river, sitting on a box with a spliff. Steve had given Byles accolades in the Beat's 'best of' issue earlier that year for the heartbeat release of 'Curly Locks-the best of Junior Byles, for best reggae reissue of the year for 1997. Steve attempted to show Junior the issue and Byles just scoffed and looked away. I remember Steve saying 'the guy looked haunted, he was putting on no one here.'

A list of players in High Times is listed below.



High Time Players

Earl "Chinna" Smith (guitar) played his first session circa 1968, and joined The Soul Syndicate in the early seventies. He has since gone on to become the avatar of reggae guitar, bringing his smoking guitar to endless singles, albums, and tours with virtually every single Jamaican performer, big or small. He is also the founder of the High Times band and the High Times record label.

Squiddly Cole (drums) is the son veteran ska vocalist Stranger Cole. Squiddly currently tours with Ziggy Marley and The Melody Makers.

Chris Meredith (bass) forms the other half of the rock solid rhythm section of Ziggy Marley's band. Chris and Squiddly, along with Chinna, formed the High Times Players in the early 1980s and played on Check It!--the provacative debut album of dub poet Mutabaruka.

Howard Messam (sax) is a former member of Sane band in Jamaica and has worked with most of Jamaica's current crop of artists. He also currently tours with Ziggy.


Johnny "Dizzy" Moore (trumpet) was a member of The Skatalites and has been blowing his trumpet since the early '60s. He currently tours with Bunny Wailer.

Robbie "Tights" Lyn is a veteran session keyboardist who has played on countless sessions in Jamaica. He is best known for his organ work on Studio One's well-known "Full Up." Robbie has been working with with Sly and Robbie for years.


[blessingsallover.wordpress.com]

I say... Some Never Plant yet want to Reap,
Be careful, try to look before you leap;
Took a little walk from my Vineyard...
Now I'm all alone..



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/08/2014 11:49PM by papaken.
Re: Yabby YOu fan re: Junior Byles at Sierra Nevada 1998
February 15, 2014 03:59PM
I know I have posted on this subject before, and for some reason do not really enjoy my recollections of his appearance at snwmf. I think ken summed it up pretty nicely; junior was not in great form, and the band did carry him. but he was there, and that was monumental.

but seeing mr. byles backstage was a sight that was pretty damn sobering for myself. it was clear he was fairly uncomfortable just being there. he was scrounging cigarette butts off the ground, almost preferring that to accepting smokes offered from people backstage. his main objective seemed to be to avoid most of the people around him; it wasn't because he was being a jerk, he just truly looked troubled and uneasy. I have a couple of photos of him backstage; I know I shared one with jah bill, but again, for some reason, I don't share them much. it was troubling, the most troubling thing I have experienced at any snwmf. I knew he was disturbed by attention backstage, and so I asked him if he minded if I took a few of photos of him. he nodded his assent and wanted me to just take a couple, and that's what I did. and then I left him alone -- which seemed to be what he most wanted -- to be left alone.

I am glad he was able (I assume) to see some $ for this. however, he did seem emotionally/psychologically, unwell. I am so glad I experienced his set, but seeing him just struggling socially backstage was extremely upsetting for me. he did not look comfortable or at ease, ever, that I saw. but reggae music fans (like myself) got their moment, maybe at his expense, I don't know. I can tell that even after all these years, I still have mixed feelings about the memories.

m.

* [www.kboo.fm]
* [www.shocksofsheba.podomatic.com]
Re: Yabby YOu fan re: Junior Byles at Sierra Nevada 1998
February 15, 2014 04:10PM
here's one of the photos I took of him off by himself, rolling...I had just spied him and couldn't wait to take the picture. it was later, after seeing his discomfort back there, that I asked if he minded me taking anymore pictures of him.



I marked it because I don't want it used. Not sure why, I've never marked photos before, but again, this was a very different and sensitive experience; it was certainly not common or comfortable.

m.

* [www.kboo.fm]
* [www.shocksofsheba.podomatic.com]
Re: Yabby YOu fan re: Junior Byles at Sierra Nevada 1998
February 16, 2014 03:02PM
Thanks for the uncomfortable memories - sad to hear that he was so troubled...
Re: Yabby YOu fan re: Junior Byles at Sierra Nevada 1998
February 16, 2014 04:35PM
There was a free monthly reggae magazine in Northern California at that time, the name escapes me at the moment, but in one issue a writer put down his experience of trying to hit up Byles for an interview that weekend, and it basically ended before it started with "Man, I'm just waiting to go home" and that was that.
Re: Yabby YOu fan re: Junior Byles at Sierra Nevada 1998
February 16, 2014 06:51PM
not looking well


this is sad to see


Re: Yabby YOu fan re: Junior Byles at Sierra Nevada 1998
February 16, 2014 08:41PM
It was awesome to see him, even in his diminished capacity. A real legend. So sad he had to struggle with mental illness. From what I hear, at least now he has a place to live and isn't homeless.
Re: Yabby YOu fan re: Junior Byles at Sierra Nevada 1998
February 17, 2014 04:51AM
Quote
Jah Mike
It was awesome to see him, even in his diminished capacity. A real legend. So sad he had to struggle with mental illness. From what I hear, at least now he has a place to live and isn't homeless.

As I understand although he has a place to live, he's still usually found at least in the day wandering around downtown and those areas. Very sad, and unfortunately the options for mental health treatment in general but especially in JA are very limited.
Re: Yabby YOu fan re: Junior Byles at Sierra Nevada 1998
February 21, 2014 12:02PM
'Curly Locks' is not one that I would've cared if I'd ever heard live.
Re: Yabby YOu fan re: Junior Byles at Sierra Nevada 1998
March 03, 2014 05:49AM
Thank you Papaken, MK, and everybody for your in-depth recollections of Junior Byles' SNWMF performance, as well as other info about him, personal pictures of him, and video link. I appreciate the info about the set list Junior performed, as well as info about his backing band (that was quite a talented band he had behind him), etc. All VERY interesting stuff, and I want to thank you all again for taking the time to post.

Gathering the info that people have posted about him, it's obvious that Junior is "in his own world" and doesn't feel comfortable inviting other people into this world. He must have some fears and phobias that are very uncomfortable, and would rather just stay in his own world. It's sad that there isn't more treatment options available to him. There are two ways of getting a mental illness and both can be treated, although some cases are much more difficult to treat than others. Who knows exactly where he is at mentally, but it's too bad that he doesn't seem to have options available for him to get treatment, and to get better...

Also, Ras Adam, thanks for the video link of a live performance by Junior from 2010. I also found other videos posted from that same performance (Beat Down Babylon, Curley Locks, etc). I now see for myself the common theme you all talk about of Junior's performances: uncomfortable. It's odd how he performs part of a song, then walks off stage, obviously wanting to get away. It's sort of like he is there on stage, but only partially. You will notice the backing band sort of looking around to keep things together on the fly, and it was incredible that they were able to do so. But all that aside, no matter what, I appreciate Junior at least getting up there to perform something, as you have to take his performance for what it is, and take into account what he is dealing with. Junior, whether he's comfortable with it or not, is a part of the history of reggae music, and when he performs, that's still history, no matter if it's a "good" performance or not.

I now want to share my story of why I'm so interested in Junior's story (besides the fact that I have a degree in Psychology and that stuff always interests me):

I bought a Lee Perry compilation in 1994 (only a few years after discovering reggae in 1992 as a Sophomore in high school - I was about the only person in school that searched beyond Bob Marley and therefor had to discover reggae all on my own) called Lee Perry and Friends on the Trojan label. There was a particular song on that CD that fascinated me the most, it sounded like nothing I had ever heard before. The song was "Rasta No Pick Pocket". The voice, the rhythm, the lyrics, the lyrical idea...all sounded different from any other song I had heard up until that point in my life. "You think it's the hair on your head / makes you dreaded than dread / but it's the heart within / a Rasta no dwell in sin..." this stuff fascinated me and grabbed my attention to the point that I can look back now, and say it was artists like Junior Byles that got me so deeply into reggae music in the first place. It's what helped inspire me to go to reggae festivals when I got older and had the money to do so, to eventually promoting and booking reggae shows and reggae festivals myself, to still trying to continue to learn about the history of reggae music to this day. And to think that a person like Junior, who's music helped steer me into the direction of reggae and the ideas of rasta philosophy in the first place, is living such a troubled and difficult life, is very sad to hear and difficult to accept...



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 03/03/2014 05:56AM by YabbyYouFan.
Re: Yabby YOu fan re: Junior Byles at Sierra Nevada 1998
March 04, 2014 12:44AM
Beautifully written, thanks for sharing Yabby You Fan. I am still fascinated with this music the way you described, and I continue to find musical gems that keep me stoked. It is troubling to see Mr. Byles in an uncomfortable situation, but I am glad that he had the courage to get up there and try. I wonder how he coped with his condition when he was younger, or maybe it just progressed with age. Lots of questions, mental illness is devastatingly sorrowful.
Re: Yabby YOu fan re: Junior Byles at Sierra Nevada 1998
March 08, 2014 03:03PM
Found this on Youtube



Re: Yabby YOu fan re: Junior Byles at Sierra Nevada 1998
March 22, 2014 05:58AM




Junior Byles SNWMF 1998 (photo by Billy Espejel)

I say... Some Never Plant yet want to Reap,
Be careful, try to look before you leap;
Took a little walk from my Vineyard...
Now I'm all alone..
Sorry, only registered users may post in this forum.

Click here to login