Imagine a time long ago. Before Facebook, Netflix and Itunes. Ronald Wilson Reagan in the White House.
Last Sunday of June 1988. Salt Lake City, Utah. Hot summer. Middle of the Night. A callow youth from Montana debuted on the late night airwaves of community radio station KRCL.
The show was called: 3 O’clock Roadblock – after the Bob Marley tune. Reggae with a mix of Ska and World Beat.
I ‘n’ I had been doing a little Reggae show on the Univ. of Utah campus station called Positive Vibrations (also Bob Marley). My roommate and I were in the Pie Pizzeria and they had KRCL on the Hi Fi. We heard a call out for new volunteers. And they were looking for a late night Reggae mix show. I ‘n’ I was selected, six weeks of trainings and started fumbling on the airwaves for late night insomniacs, cab drivers, graveyard shifters, cat burglars and night owls.
Thirty four years later. Trodding on prime time with Smile Jamaica
<34 Years of Reggae Radio: on KRCL; 2 min.>
I ‘n’ I had discovered the gem that is KRCL. Non commercial music. No commercials. No slick presentation. (Early 1987). And the station had two really great Reggae shows: Smile Jamaica, with my mentor, Rutabaga Reese. And Nite Roots with Papa Pilgrim. I ‘n’ I would listen intently, especially on Saturdays (1 to 4pm in those days; not 4-7). Great roots gems spun by Rutabaga. He taught I ‘n I about ON U Sound – What I ‘n’ I re-invented as the music genre Mutant Dub.
I ‘n’ I would keep a notebook of classic albums to fill up my collection before I could ever think of committing to a weekly radio show.
<Reggae Radio mentors at KRCL; 40 sec.>
Fall 1986 I moved from Bozeman, MT to SLC to attend the Univ. of Utah. I ‘n’ I had always been a music collector. And in 1986 I discovered the compact disk.
In the dorms I met a Jewish engineering student named Neal. He had a rich kid’s stereo and in the concrete block dorm rooms, sound really reverberated. We traded disks back and forth. One night we listened to the group Black Uhuru.
Heavy electronic 80’s era Sly & Robbie; Michael Rose’s Afro-Arab vocals and balanced harmonies: Puma Jones (roots dawta) and Ducky Simpson (Rasta dread.)
I ‘n’ I had about a dozen Reggae CDs but Black Uhuru “Anthem” was the epiphany moment. I became a Reggae obsessive after that!
In gratitude to Black Uhuru, I used to start each late night 3 O’clock Roadblock with a Black Uhuru tune.
<Black Uhuru and Reggae Fanaticism; 63 sec.>
Now that I ‘n’ I had the show, I needed to expand my Reggae collection through the unintended, and probably unwilling President at the time:
Reagan – 666 as the Rastas say.
<Funder of the Smile Jamaica Ark-Ives Ronald Wilson Reagan; 37 sec.>
Hey, I ‘n I bear no grudges against the man. Back in the mid 80’s there were more grants that loans. I would take a big fat Ronnie check and deposit into savings. Then either around the Holidays or Summer I would scour the Bay Area record shops. Dozens of them, large and small, back before digital killed the record hut.
- San Francisco
- East Bay: Oakland, Berkeley, El Cerrito
- Mill Valley – Marin county
- Sacramento and Reno if I ‘n’ I was driving.
<Bay Area cratedig circuit; 44 sec.>
I used to stay at a Travelodge on Columbus and Bay. Right across from the Tower Records. Or couch surf at an Aunt’s apartment over by San Francisco State U.
I would descend like a plague of locusts in the shops. CDs (new). LPs bargains as people sold vinyl for the CDs. Cheap and plentiful.
$4 dollar records cast off in 1989 can go for hundreds today on Ebay and Discogs.
<That effort became the Smile Jamaica Ark-Ives; 51 sec>
Salt Lake City was well represented in good record stores, before digital set in, during the mid 80’s. I used to deliver mail and had to use my own car. So the gas reimbursement was usually enough to buy two new disks every two weeks at the late lamented Smokey’s Records. Other gems at places like Randy’s (still in business) and Cosmic Aeroplane, Raspberry Records and Mad Platter (all gone to that record hut in the sky)
Quick Smokey’s story: Near the end of the store’s life, the owner Smokey Koelsch, started giving me the hairy eyeball. Why? Thieves kept breaking to Smokey’s shop to steal all the Reggae cds.
And those are the stories I ‘n’ I collect and share for 34 years.
Forward ever, backwards never1
<Cratedigging in SLC; 47 sec.>
Smile Jamaica Ark-Ives: July 2, 2022 – 34 Years of Reggae Radio (Vinyl)
- Prince Far I & the Arabs – The Message; Cry Tuff Dub Encounter Chapter 1 (ROIR) ’78 Dub album of the hour
- Black Uhuru – Party Next Door; Anthem (Island) ’84 US
- I Roy – Deck of Love Many Moods of I Roy (Trojan0 ’74 UK
- Inner Circle – Burial; Blame It on the Sun (Trojan) ’75 UK Peter Tosh Cover
- Arthur Louis – Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door; This Is Reggae Music vol. 2 (Island) ’75 US comp.
- Burning Spear – Lion; Man in the Hills (Mango) ’76 US
- Rita Marley – One Draw; 12″ (Shanachie) ’82 US – 4:20 Cannabis Service Announcement
- Marcia Griffiths – Feel Like Jumping; Feel Like Jumping (Receiver) ’68 UK comp.
- The Heptones – Cool Rasta; Cool Rasta (Trojan) ’76 UK
- Lion Zion – Gas Guzzler; Reggae in America (House of Natty) ’76 Oakland; Lee “Scratch” Perry prod’n
- Ras Michael & the Sons of Negus – Rasta Liveth; Tribute to the Emperor (Trojan) ’76 UK
- Bob Marley & the Wailers – Punky Reggae Party; 12″ (Tuff Gong) ’77 JA
- Judy Mowatt – Mr. Dee Jay; Mr. Dee Jay (Ashandan) ’75 JA
- Big Youth – Hurting Inside; Progress (Nichola Delita) ’78 JA Bob Marley cover
- Dennis Brown – Malcolm X; Visions (Blue Moon) ’78 UK
- Keith Hudson – Musicology; Rasta Communication (Greensleeves) ’78
- The Gayladds – Little Candle; Love & Understanding (Ballistic) ’79 UK
- Matumbi – Music in the Air; Seven Seals (Harvest) ’79 UK green vinyl
- Linton Kwesi Johnson – Inglan Is a Bitch; Bass Culture
- Soul Syndicate – There’s a Fire; Was, Is & Always (Epiphany) ’80 Santa Cruz, CA; Gaylads cover
- African Princess – Jah Children Cry; Hits From the House of Shaka (Jah Shaka) ’85 UK
- Bunny Wailer – Mellow Mood; Sings the Wailers (Mango) ’80 US – rock steady covers
- Desmond Dekker – Moving On; Black & Dekker (Stiff) ’81 UK
- Akimbo – So Long Trouble; So Long Trouble EP (Forward Sounds) ’85 UK
- Johnnie Osbourne – Love Comes and Goes; Reggae on Broadway (Cha Cha) ’81 UK
- Peter Tosh – Reggae Myelitis; Wanted, Dread & Alive (EMI America) ’81 US
- Toots & the Maytals – Beautiful Woman; Knock Out! (Mango) ’81 US
- Casselberry & DuPree – Take It to the Limit; City Down (Icebergg) ’86 Milwaukee, Wi; two women cover the Eagles
- Singers & Players feat. Prince Far I – Quante Jubila; War of Words (ON U Sound) ’81 UK
- Twinkle Brothers – Since I Threw the Comb Away (Sunsplash) 8/7/82 Montego Bay
- Don Carlos – Lazer Beam; Spread Out (Burning Sounds) ’83 UK
- Lilian Allen – Conditions Critical; Conditions Critical (Redwood) ’87 Emeryville, CA; Toronto dub poet
- Singers & Players feat. Sister P – Holy Scripture; Vacuum Pumping (ON U Sound) ’88 UK
- Caribbean All Stars – Snake in de Grass; Live & Direct (Raw Life) ’84 Oakland
- Krieger-Densmore Reggae Bonanza – Get Up Stand Up; 12″ (Rhino) ’83 US Wailers cover
- Ruffy & Tuffy – Third World War Is a Must; Climax (Black Star) ’88 Finland