Winston Jarrett

Jamaican reggae livens up Jazzbones Friday night

By Bobble Tiki on January 31, 2008

Winston Jarrett, a venerable reggae semi-legend, is playing Jazzbones this week, which poses quite a predicament for Bobble Tiki.

First of all, let it be known that Bobble Tiki loves the reggae. An islander himself, Bobble Tiki just relates to the laid back vibe and “one love” ideals the music exudes. Bobble Tiki doesn’t smoke pot, but he thinks he’d probably like it, and he’s sure he likes bright colored drinks with fancy little umbrellas. Even when Bobble Tiki’s not on vacation, he likes his soundtrack to be, which is the main reason Bobble Tiki can’t get enough reggae in his life.

Given Bobble Tiki’s affinity for reggae, and the fact that Jarrett’s place in the annals of reggae history is secure, it seemed only natural for Bobble Tiki to use his column to focus on Jarrett’s show at Jazzbones this week. The difficulties with this idea became apparent once Bobble Tiki dove in head first.

Winston Jarrett wakes up early. Bobble Tiki found this out the hard way. After Bobble Tiki sent out an e-mail looking for an interview with Jarrett, who grew to fame with Alton Ellis and the Flames, Jarrett made a habit of leaving messages on Bobble Tiki’s voicemail at 7 a.m.

Bobble Tiki is (absolutely) not at the office at 7 a.m.

More pressing, however, was the fact that on these messages Bobble Tiki couldn’t understand a thing Jarret was saying. Bobble Tiki has never claimed to be very cultured, and when it comes to knowing about the ways of other people, Bobble Tiki isn’t very schooled. Jarrett’s island talk (correctly known as Jamaican Patois or Jamaican Creole) seemed indiscernible over Bobble Tiki’s cell phone.

Luckily for Bobble Tiki, Winston’s wife Pattsy came to the rescue. Through the magic of the Internet and the kindness of Pattsy’s heart, Bobble Tiki was able to learn a little something about Winston Jarrett this week and pass that along to Weekly Volcano readers. Despite the fact Bobble Tiki can’t understand a damn thing Jarrett says, he can understand e-mails from his wife.

BOBBLE TIKI: Winston has been so influential in the development of Reggae, but he’s not as well known as many of the friends and musicians he’s worked with over the years. What is Winston’s place in the history of reggae?

PATTSY JARRETT: He is not as well known in the States because he didn’t come with the influx of reggae artists that toured the U.S. in the ’80s. He is probably better known in England, Europe and Japan where he has done more touring. Winston decided at quite a young age to learn the business side of the music industry, which was really when reggae music was just beginning to develop. He was instrumental in bringing in many of the “well-known” artists into the studio and was often asked to round up musicians or backup singers for recordings. His daily presence in the studios and his sharp mind, along with his marketing skills caused him to earn the nickname “Walking Jukebox” because he knew just what was going on in the studios and what the next big hit would likely be, and usually had a copy to sell you in his pouch.

TIKI: How has Winton’s youth and childhood affected the music he’s created? What was it like growing up in St. Ann’s Lime Tree Garden for him?

JARRETT: Winston moved to Kingston when he was quite young. His mother passed away when he was only 7 years old so he depended upon his brothers and his own “street wisdom” for survival from a young age. His father didn’t play a big part in his life, but he does remember listening on the wind-up gramophone vinyl 78s of his father’s before his mother passed away. His mother was Christian woman who instilled a deep sense of moral ethics in Winston that remains to this day. Music was always part of his life.

TIKI: Why has the music Winston loves exploded in popularity?

JARRETT: The reggae music became as popular as it is for several reasons: its message of truth and rights and justice rings clear to all oppressed people. It is based on the heartbeat riddim, so even if you may not hear the words clearly at first, the beat will draw you in. It is a uniquely Jamaican-derived music, and yet it speaks to a universal audience. And it was marketed well.

TIKI: What’s in the future for Winston? If there’s one thing people should know, what is it?

JARRETT: Everywhere you go, if you travel with Winston Jarrett, you will come across people who exclaim how he helped them when they were down and out, how his music inspired them to make a change for the better or got them through a rough time in their life. He’s happiest when he is doing Jah’s (God’s) work. For Winston, his music expresses everything in his heart, and the things he has learned along the way. Winston’s music is like food for the soul, and there are a lot of hungry ones out there that can be helped and healed by his music.

As always, Bobble Tiki doesn’t care what you do this week because he doesn’t even know you. Unless you can explain Washington state’s Democratic caucus system to Bobble Tiki, and why we have a primary too, then Bobble Tiki’s pretty sure he doesn’t want to meet you. Check out Breakfast with Bobble Tiki, which will start appearing daily on the Volcano’s Spew next week, and consider yourself lucky. If you think about it, now that Breakfast with Bobble Tiki is a daily thing, you’re getting even more Bobble Tiki than before. Don’t be greedy.

[Jazzbones, Winston Jarrett, and Zayne, Friday, Feb. 1, 9 p.m., $10, 2803 Sixth Ave., Tacoma, 253.396.9169]

Bobble Tiki is going out of his head via e-mail at and www.myspace. com/bobbletiki