A ‘sell-off’ House of Leo Reunion
At a time when some of the stakeholders in the music industry in Jamaica are complaining that their livelihood is under threat with the enforcement of the Noise Abatement Act, New York rolled out the red carpet for some of the biggest selectors out of the island.
The historic dance, dubbed ‘House of Leo Reunion’, took place at LaRoose on White Plains Road in the Bronx last Saturday. Father Gemini, the genius behind House of Leo on Cargill Avenue in Kingston in the ‘80s, got the party started about 1 a.m., drawing heavily on popular songs by singers Dennis Brown, Leroy Smart, and John Holt. Jah Wise followed. He made way for Glamour Wayne, who launched his segment by heaping praises on his mentor, Father Gemini.
“The man who established my career in 1986, that gave me a chance to tour 18 different countries is Father Gemini. Without him, nothing would be possible musically,” Glamour Wayne told patrons.
He also acknowledged other important contributors to the sound-system culture, namely Jimmy Metro and Snap Chat from Metro Metro, Father Wee Pow from Stone Love, and Tony Screw from Downbeat. Once the pleasantries were done, he segued into Luciano’s It’s Me Again Jah and the Beatles classic Let It Be, sung on dubplate by LUST. Other strong performances were delivered by Mark Dragon from Inner City, Jabba of Massive B, and Jimmy Metro, who demonstrated musically why Metro Media is still relevant after 30 years in the industry. Rory Stone Love brought the curtain down in a blaze of glory, unleashing vintage dubplates by Wayne Wonder, Shabba Ranks, Bounty Killer, Buju Banton, and Beenie Man.
Broadcaster Mr Xpert, one of many industry insiders attending the event, reminisced about House Of Leo in the ‘80s.
“The first House Of Leo dance I attended was on my birthday in 1982. It feels like it was yesterday. I was just a teenager. This dance tonight was a stroll down memory lane for me,” he said.
Face Fullblast of LaRoose, promoter of the Reunion dance, said that he started the retro event in New York 11 years ago because of his own love for the event and fan requests.
“As a youngster, I was a regular patron at Cargill Ave. I used to go to House of Leo to hear Gemini, Stone Love, Metro Media, and others. People don’t know that House Of Leo is where artistes like Buju Banton, Wayne Wonder, Peter Metro, and Tanto Metro buss. It was fun. Dance did nice dem time! It is this nostalgic retro vibe we are attempting to recreate, and music lovers can’t get enough of it here in the Bronx,” he shared.
The concerned promoter told The Gleaner that he was perturbed by reports of police shutting down dances early in Jamaica.
“The prime minister, the Ministry of Youth and Culture, and the police must find a way to work things out because entertainment is one of the biggest industries in Jamaica. It provides opportunities for poor people from various socio-economic groups, including selectors, sound-system owners, hairdressers, the cane man, the drum chicken man, and others, to earn a living. The sound-system culture is exported globally, which is why a promoter like me in the Bronx can put on the House Of Leo Reunion party and it sell off. We must protect what we have. We cannot kill the industry,” he said.