38 years of Chalice
If ever a reggae band had a significant beginning and an even more powerful story, it is Chalice - a seven-member reggae group that began in 1980. Its origins are in Gibraltar Hill, St Mary. Two years later, their debut album, Blasted, produced two mega hit singles, I Still Love You and Good To Be There.
Chalice underwent numerous personnel changes over the years due to the relocation of some members and the death of founding members Mikey Wallace (killed in 1999), Trevor Roper and Robbie Peart, who passed away two years apart in 2013 and 2015, respectively. The reggae band even disbanded in 1996, but like their music, the relationship between the musicians remained constant.
Vocalist and guitar player Wayne Armond, keyboardist Winston 'Alla' Lloyd, and bass player Keith 'Papa Keith' Francis are the survivors of Chalice's original line-up. The band is completed by lead singer Dean Stephens, Wayne 'C-Sharp' Clarke on drums, electronic percussionist Andrew 'Preggs' Thompson, and keyboardist Jerome Tulloch. Popular drummer Desi Jones also plays with the group from time to time.
BAND CULTURE IN JAMAICA
"The existence of bands in Jamaica comes from a culture of longevity. Over the years, each member has had the opportunity to work with a lot of the younger bands, thus, we understand the problems they go through that make it hard for them to survive," Armond said.
He added: "Older bands - Third World, Fab 5 and Byron Lee and the Dragonaires - [that lasted for over 50 years] and Chalice are fortunate to come together through kinship and friendship."
The 2014 staging of the Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival at the Trelawny Multipurpose Stadium was their last live show performance together on the island until Sparkles Disco's One Night Stand held at The Serengeti at Hope Zoo last Saturday - a show that was not to be missed.
Bobby Wong, CEO of Sparkles Productions, having worked with members of Chalice individually told The Gleaner, "It is a very good band; the musicians are excellent. When you speak about true musicians, that is what Chalice is comprised of."
Armond said the group has managed to stay close, "so it's natural for us when we come together to play - like an old jeans, you take it out your closet, and it still fits the way you want it to".
Lloyd remarked that the times the group went missing were not owing to any form of disbandment.
"There was a moment when we did not get any local airplay, but we have been doing it for years, and we want people to know we are still doing it," said Lloyd.
"It is not a reunification or re-emergence of any sort. Nowadays, you find that musicians are not spending enough time to do the music properly. We enjoy music and spend the time to do it properly," he said.