Merritone documents ‘merri moments’ in one-off publication
The treasured moments and events throughout the decades of the existence of stellar sound system, Merritone, have been documented in a one-off publication compiled and bounded to recapture the “merri moments” which took place in many parts of Jamaica and overseas.
“It was an expensive and painstaking venture in putting this document together,” pointed out Monte Blake of Merritone, “but we thought it was important for historical purposes and thank The Gleaner’s library for the excellent research in its archives, so that we would not leave out any significant moments.”
Asked what he thought were some of the stand-out Merritone events over the years, Blake said, “It is hard to single out any one or two as most have been memorable and have made an impact on the music and cultural landscape of Jamaica while taking it to the diaspora.”
However, he highlighted some of the headline events in the book such as the annual Merritone Family Fun Day in Connecticut; popular boat rides; dance nights at the iconic Turn Table Club located at Red Hills Road where many prominent celebrities, politicians and movie stars visited; and, of course, the annual Family Reunion in Jamaica.
“I have snapshots of the book on Instagram that show the impact Merritone has had on shaping the Jamaican music industry. For example, a recent post was from a 1985 article in which the late Cynthia Schloss-Blake voiced a concern that foreign artistes were using reggae more effectively than Jamaican artistes,” he said.
Blake also added that all these events have exposed many artistes who would bring their records to sessions for them to play; the sessions held also assisted with fund-raisers for organisations and individuals in Jamaica and overseas.
Some of the pictorial highlights showcased the invaluable contribution of the late Winston Blake as he unearthed talents through the production of music and his input during the early days of the Jamaica Festival Song Competition. During this competition, he sat on panels to select the best talents, alongside music professionals, singers and song writers, such as the late Bob Andy, and composer Joe Williams, as well as ace music producer Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, among others.
The Merritone book of memorable events, will be on display during the up-coming 73rd Anniversary Annual Reunion and Family Homecoming Festival in Jamaica from October 21 to October 30, so that attendees can flip through the pages and reminisce.
“This is by no means the sum of Merritone’s story,” said Blake, “And Jamaica should look out for the comprehensive account of the musical movement being penned, as well as a documentary, which will chronicle the journey of the Merritone sound system, dubbed the Last Sound Standing, from its humble beginnings in Morant Bay, St Thomas, in the 1950s.