Fri | Dec 9, 2016

For he's a Jolly good fellow

Published:Sunday | August 24, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Joseph 'Mr Powda' Bennett (left) clinks glasses with Jolly Boys bandmate Albert Minott. - Contributed
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Sadeke Brooks, Staff Reporter

The tears might still be flowing following the death of Jolly Boys' band member, 'Mr Powda' last Wednesday, but the band plans to rebuild and continue his legacy. Mr Powda, real name Joseph Bennett, died last Wednesday morning due to a respiratory illness. He was 76 years old.

His friend of 35 years and Jolly Boys' bandmate, Albert Minott, described Mr Powda as quite the comedian, and said he will definitely be missed.

"We are trying to cope. I don't think we will ever find another Mr Powda, because he was always so 'jokify'. We decide to pick up the pieces and find someone else. The Jolly Boys not finish 'til it finish. It's a big loss and we miss him, but I won't make that hinder me from entertain my people," Minott told The Sunday Gleaner.

Minott said he met Mr Powda 35 years ago when he went in search of someone to play the rhumba box. He was told to consult Mr Powda.

"I remember the first time I took him to the hotel. From then on we have been playing on and off. Then Jon Baker come and make us a steady team. He was a comedian. He played the maracas and he did a bit of singing and his comedian style bring him off on stage," Minott said.

The Jolly Boys have been staple of Port Antonio, Portland, since the 1940s and regularly played for famed actor Errol Flynn. In 2009, Geejam co-owner Jon Baker started to work with the band on a project that eventually led to them releasing albums, including Great Expectation, and touring with international singer, Sade.

Baker described Mr Powda's death as "a sad loss".

"Mr Powda was one of the most positive. He was the guy to keep everybody's spirit up. His spirit will live on," Baker said. He added that the band recently completed an album, Classic Mento, of which Mr Powda was a part.

"We are saddened, but happy that his legacy will continue," Baker told The Sunday Gleaner.

Baker noted that Mr Powda had respiratory problems, but like the other members of the band, he did regular medical check-ups, so it came as a surprise when he died.

The Jolly Boys' tour manager, Rick Elgood, said that the legacy will continue because "Jolly Boys are synonymous with Port Antonio and the mento scene."

Mr Powda's legacy will also continue with a docu-drama being produced by Elgood called It's Never Too Late, that is near completion. Also, the second season of The Jolly Boys TV Show will be aired on CVM TV in October.

However, despite his illness, Elgood said Mr Powda had been doing well. "He was in amazing spirits on the recent tour of Europe. It was a joy to see him enjoying himself so much on stage," Elgood said, noting that the band did six shows in France.

Moving forward, Baker said Jolly Boys will have a new member, who will probably be taken from another mento band called Mento Madness.

"We can bring them in and make them perform. They will be joining The Jolly Boys and the legacy will continue. Mento Madness is in good form at the moment, so someone will be able to step up to the plate and replace Mr Powda," he said.

He added that there are no plans for touring at the moment, as the Jolly Boys are mostly taking shows at hotels and other private events. He said they are also recording.

Elgood said a funeral for Mr Powda will be held at the church of his wife, Daisy. He said there will also be a nine night and music will be played by persons who have performed with Mr Powda over the years.