In Defense of Ska Ep. 29: Mystic Bowie


In 2019, My wife and I took a week-long trip to Jamaica. It wasn't just a tourist trip to Montego Bay or Kingston, we went a few hours into the mountains to the small village of Accompong and experienced the Maroon Festival. Every year, on Jan 6, this village of roughly 600 balloons up to 10,000 people to celebrate hundreds of years of Maroon independence. It began in 1759, when the Maroons signed a peace treaty with the British, establishing their independence, something that would not happen for the rest of Jamaica for many years.

The festival is an amazing gathering with loud music, fantastic food, and ice-cold Red Stripes, but it is also contains important ceremonies for Maroons all over the world to remember back to when their ancestors fought the British and won, refusing at all cost to be enslaved.

The person that took me to the Maroon Festival is reggae musician Mystic Bowie, who sang in Tom Tom Club for many years, and who currently fronts Mystic Bowie's Talking Dreads, a band that combines Mystic's passion for reggae music with his love of Talking Heads songs. It's an incredible experience that steers clear of being a gimmick, even if the juxtaposition seems odd at first.

Mystic, our guest this week, explains the sincere place in his soul where Talking Dreads emerged from, and he also tells stories from his childhood, when he hung out around Chris Blackwell's famous recording studio, Compass Point Studios and met a bunch of famous musicians, like Keith Emerson, Ringo Starr, and his future Tom Tom Club band-mates Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth. And of course, Mystic and I discuss the 2019 Jamaican trip. I do my best to recall what was one of the best experiences of my life, while Mystic gives the detailed history of the Maroon people.

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