A Reasoning with Tony "Jah-T" Allen (Love Joys Part II) | MIDNIGHT RAVER
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A Reasoning with Tony “Jah-T” Allen (Love Joys Part II)

MR – So the Love Joys disbanded in what 1982/83? Is that you and Jah-T started the Abel & Allen thing?

JT – “Yes. Me and Jah-T started recording as Abel & Allen. Around 1984 we met Sonny Ochai from Japan. He was planning the first JapanSplash and he was recruiting artists from the Wackie studio for the concert. At that time quite a few artists were in limbo in the States, they used to come through Wackies from time to time.”

Jah-T with Desi Jones, Lennox Gordon, and Calvin McKenzie at UWI

MR – Like who?

lovejoysjapan 001

JT – “People like Sugar Minott, who played on the JapanSplash show was a regular at the studio. Horace Andy was there for a while, Johnny Osbourne, Heptones, Leroy Sibbles and Naggo Morris, John Holt and even Lee “Scratch” Perry and more.”

Tony "Jah-T" Allen

Tony “Jah-T” Allen

MR – So talk about JapanSplash. Were you guys involved?

JT – “Sonny was interested in having Abel & Allen as a part of the package to Japan. But I Jah-T was not legal to travel so that was not to be.”

MR – What were you guys doing at the time here stateside?

JT – “Sonia Love Joy was pregnant at the time with our daughter Jean. We stayed around Wackies for a bit more before moving upstate N.Y. to a little town named Shandaken. That’s the era when we had a tragedy in the family, while I was on tour playing bass for Sugar Minott my son drowned. On my return from the tour we had a memorial show in Woodstock. Sugar Minott had always hinted that we should perform together as a group, up till this time Sonia was Love Joys, and I was Itopia bass player of the Congos band who came here to USA from Paris after a failed tour. We put together a band to perform at the memorial for our son. We continued the band as Abel & Allen using our last names as we are fans of Ashford & Simpson. In Woodstock after the memorial a local promoter Leah Boss introduced us to a booking agent in Woodstock who had some gigs for us.”

Abel & Allen

Abel & Allen

MR – So what kind of shows were you playing?

JT – “At the time we weren’t even familiar with the artist we were opening for it was around 1986. We opened for Joan Jett And the Blackhearts twice, Debbie Gibson, the Clash, The Ramones, Psychedelic Furs, The Band, Marshall Tucker Band some may elude memory in between those we had the local promoter Leah Boss from Upstate Reggae book us a few openings with Jimmy Cliff and also had us on her shows in Woodstock.

We met the Bad Brains bassie Daryl Jenifer and guitar Dr. No who resided in Woodstock as well we became friends so we had times when the bassie Daryl would jam with us and Dr. No played guitar with us when we open for Jimmy Cliff in Poughkeepsee NY and other gigs.

We met lots of interesting musicians there in the area like Karl Berger international pianist who performed for our memorial show. He arranges for the German philharmonic orchestra and even people like Sly &Robbie back in the day.

After a few years living there The Meditations came through for a gig and we are family. My sister has a son with Ansell Cridland (“Woman is Like a Shadow”) hit singer in Meditations. They suggested we check out Arizona for music work because Woodstock close down during winter and its cold. So we moved to Arizona within months, we got in and started to perform in Tucson. We met Mikey Dread. I knew him from Jamaica. I played bass on an album for him song name “Jah Jah Love Will Keep Shining in the Morning.” He was a radio DJ in Tucson at the time around 1988-89. Danny Clarke of the Meditations resided there too so he helped us get situated in Tucson.

We performed in Phoenix, Flagstaff and also together with Danny Clark of the Meditations we performed in the Grand Canyon for the Havasupai people, one of our most memorable shows. We also performed for the Tohono O’odem indians from time to time they really love reggae music. After a spell in Arizona we left to visit London as it the home of Sonia Love Joys and Sugar Minott had hinted to us that reggae is big in England.”

MR – So what was the London scene like?

JT – “After arriving in London, it took time to get used to it but we started booking a few small shows like the one at the Brixton Domino Club where Aswad drummer Zeb son Sol played drums for us only 13 years old. We stayed with his mother Pet in Angeltown Estates in Brixton. At the time we ran out of money and needed help so we started calling around where we met Colin, a record producer interested in Love Joys and Rae Cheddie, who gave us a place to stay as he was a Wackie foot soldier in England.”

Abel & Allen

Abel & Allen

MR – Was there any Love Joys fan base there?

JT – “We finally had to find out where Love Joys music was distributed and we met Jet Star president Mr.Palmer in North London. He told Love Joys he had sent money for them but she never got any. Long story short, we met a couple who had a local band, I forgot the name….Mickey was the Drummer and his Queen played keyboards. We did a few songs there for the Abel & Allen album Two Loves in My Life. We went to Mad Professor studio where we met Dennis Brown, he bought a few promotional T-shirts and gave us encouragement to stay in the music business.”

 

Wackies records saturated the UK reggae charts during this period

MR – So you weren’t there long, right? When did you come back stateside?

JT – “When we got back to the US we did the title track (“Two Loves in My Life”) with Cedric Brooks playing sax. He was my music teacher in Jamaica. I also performed with his band back then United Africa. Monkey Man (Wade) was the drummer on the song. After that album, which was not released, we went back to Woodstock to visit, maybe 1993. The promoter Leah Boss told us about the Woodstock 21st anniversary show. We got a spot on it with Santana and Richie Havens and more. We left to Florida where we started to perform all over different venues. After 2 years we moved to Atlanta. By this time we had two children, the second child was born in the Woodstock mountains at Kingston hospital upstate NY. His name is Avram. After moving to Atlanta and perform a few seasons as Abel & Allen we met a lady who told us about music conventions. We paid our fee and decided to try it. We performed downtown Atlanta at the convention center with people like Nine Mil, Da Brat, and others. We got a recording contract with Masters Entertainment from Washington DC with Andre Reams. We stayed with them performing at Conventions around the US. It was short-lived but we had the best time of our life. We had another child in Atlanta Bemi. Our friend Mike Cacia who manages Toots mentioned to us that him and Toots were on tour in Europe and they were in the car when they heard Love Joys on the radio! He also found Love Joys album in a huge record store in NY, so he suggested that we find a name that keeps the Love Joys in it because Love Joys had a little name in Europe already, just build on that.”

wackies

MR – So is this when the Natti Love Joys came into being?

Natti Love Joys

Natti Love Joys

JT – “Yes. We changed the name to Natti Love Joys, that was around 1996 when the Olympics came to Atlanta. Anyway we became the number one Caribbean band in Atlanta three years in a row backing all kinds of Jamaican artists Like Nadine Sutherland, Sister Carol, Sugar Minott, Tony Rebel, Ken Boothe, John Holt, Alton Ellis, Melodians, performing with Tommy McCook, getting together with the Studio One band Joe Isaacs on drums, Pablove Black on keys, Bunny Brown and Sonia Love Joys on keyboards opening shows and myself playing bass for the artists. We had a good run in Atlanta. We did the New Years Eve show for Atlanta Peach Drop at the end of 2001, opening for Three Dog Night and Sugar Hill Gang.

We also opened for Jimmy Buffet show downtown Atlanta for the radio station Z93 at the time. After doing festivals and events for a few years we got some land in the Tennessee mountains, it borders North Carolina and Georgia in a little town Turtle Town Tennessee.”

MR – Talk a little bit about Reggae Camp…such a brilliant idea. Who came up with this concept?

JT – “Within a few months of living here Sonia Love Joys came up with the idea of having a reggae festival on our land. She named it Camp Reggae. It’s now 16 years old. It’s twice a year, Memorial Day weekend and Labor day weekend. We have changed a whole region where it is Caucasian only in 16 years with our culture and music.”

 
 
Natti Love Joys new single “I Love the Country” available @ Itunes,CD baby, Google Play, and www.campreggae.org
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