Garton Francis: When Music was Fun and Laughter
Garton Francis has two great passions. One is music; the other being the army. One could probably call him, “Teacher” because he imparts knowledge, especially when it comes to music.
The Jamaican US-based record producer is beginning to create an impact with the release of, Jah Thunder’s “Too Much.”
This is the first track of his debut project, an EP which will feature other artistes, including Capleton and Leroy Smart.
Garton is the principal of Jah Meds International, his music label.
Today, Reggae-Vibes presents, Garton Francis: “When Music was Fun and Laughter,” first of a seven-part series.
“I am Garton Francis, born in Lawrence Tavern, St. Andrew.”
“As a child I grew up in the church where the tambourine and that of my mother’s angelic voice stood tall among the rest of the choir at Rose Hall Church of God located in Rose Hall, St. Andrew.”
“As I grew older – in my early teens – that hand clapping and tambourine was ceasing as I became drawn to popular music.”
The 1960s were early days of ska and rocksteady, which was reggae. Artistes to make an impact in this era included The Flames and Marcia Griffiths. A 1968 single by Toots and The Maytals “Do The Raggy” was the first popular song to use the word reggae.
Reggae denotes music style strongly influenced by traditional mento, as well as American Jazz and Rhythm and Blues, especially the New Orleans R & B practiced by Fats Domino and Allen Toussaint.
Garton recalls three artistes, whom he believes created music which led people to laugh away- even their problems.
“There were artistes like Lt. Stitchie, Professor Nuts and Lovindeer.”
“Lt. stitchie had us in stitches with his video ‘Wear Yu Size’. This features a young woman bearing the agony of a pair of shoes much too small for her feet.”
“That video would have made the rounds on television several times for the day and each time it became more meaningful and humorous. But, it was in a subtle way ridiculing the extent one could go to get their satisfaction.”
Then, there was Professor Nuts with ‘In A The Bus’ – another piece of comedy which made people laugh. This is a popular drama on public transport where even a chink (bed-bug) on a man’s shirt leads to much laughter. A concerned woman removing it gets the reaction, ‘put it back, uno want everything uno see black man ave.”
Garton adds that, “Lovindeer took one of Jamaica’s greatest disaster- hurricane Gilbert (September 1988) and made it into a humorous story.”
“Yu see mi fridge Gilbert gi mi,” is one of many lines which remind scores of Jamaicans that the hurricane had made them better off in the end.
Look out for Part 2. Shabby Ranks, Ninjaman, and Yellowman: only on the Reggae-Vibes site.
(Photos courtesy of Garton Francis | IRAQ 2011 Operation New Dawn)