Sheldon Williams, Arts & Education Writer
Redbones the Blues Café, which has gained and maintained notoriety as one of the Corporate Area's most popular restaurants bars and art galleries, as well as an intimate location for live music and other artistic presentations, will be celebrating its 15-year anniversary in December.
The family-owned restaurant, now located at 1 Argyle Road, which marks its second location, initially opened its doors for business at 21 Braemar Avenue in December 1996, where it remained until November 2009.
In March 2010, the restaurant was relocated to its current home, where it continues to build on the legacy already started at its birthplace. In recognition of its imminent anniversary, Redbones will be releasing REDBONES 15, a 250-page coffee table book, with the hope of chronicling a few of the amazing memories that have been created there.
a family legacy
Enola Williams, manager of Redbones, while choosing not to divulge much about the soon-to-be-released piece of literature, explained, "It's a collection of photographs and of stories and poems and commentaries written by poets, customers and other performers and critics from the entertainment industry." Williams also explained that it was her parents who conceptualised the vision and acted upon it and formed Redbones.
"Redbones is the continuation of a family's intense passion and deep love for music, food and entertainment that really began in the 1970s. My parents' love affair began with a successful 20-year run with the infamous hot-spot, Epiphany Nightclub (located at Spanish Court) which hosted enigmatic musicians like Errol Lee & The Bare Essentials Band, Jacob Miller & Inner Circle, Third World, Dennis Brown, Ray Goodman, Peter Tosh, Jackie Wright, Melba Moore, and a historic July 25, 1971 concert with Bob Marley & the Wailers, among others.
"Additionally, they opened the equally beloved Gallerie Theophany, which was a café and pub located on Barbados Avenue," Williams said.
sharing a heritage
Williams added that, by 1990, it was a time for a change. "It was time for something new. The idea really started with a record collection. The most exciting gathering point in our home has always been the music room, a place filled with tapes; 78, 45 and 331/3 vinyl; a Technics record player; lots of books, sculptures, paintings; and other interesting random oddities. We wanted to take that music room and share it with others and, thus, the Redbones the Blues Café concept was born."
Williams also elaborated on the rationale for the name and illustrated its significance to the Jamaican context. "We take our name from 'redbone', a term historically used in much of the southern United States and, in particular, in southwest Louisiana, to describe a person of mixed racial heritage which mirrors the Jamaican term 'brownin'.
"With the jazz and blues theme, it was now time to create a distinctive and unique menu that focused on local Jamaican ingredients presented with an international flair, a fusion of Jamaican and other types of cuisine. We turned to the incredibly talented Norma Shirley to help in creating the first Redbones menu," Williams said.
Redbones has a strong desire to promote jazz and blues music in Kingston, while providing an outlet for positive creative energy in the city. Over the past 15 years, Redbones has become a beehive of cultural and culinary activity, hosting a James Beard dinner, seafood extravaganzas, high teas, international cuisine events, art exhibitions, foreign films, fashion shows, book readings, album launches, cabaret, theatrical productions, charity fund-raisers, yoga classes, worldbeat music evenings, vibes verse poetry nights, two three-day multi-venue blues festivals, and overall great live-music shows.
In addition to being a world-class restaurant, Redbones has become an outlet for many different kinds of artists to showcase their work. There have been painters, sculptures, fashion designers, furniture designers, jewellers, photographers, dancers, thespians, poets, novelists, graphic artists, film-makers and a plethora of musicians. While many of the artists are professionals, Redbones also offers a venue for students of Edna Manley College School of the Arts to perform and exhibit.
Art, culture and food are integral to the creative experience that is Redbones.