THERE were few hotter reggae bands in the 1990s than the Jahpostles, a Portland six-piece that was roots singer Garnet Silk's official backing unit. Little has been heard of them since Silk's tragic death in December, 1994.
Bassist Devon Bradshaw, one of Jahpostles' original members, spoke to the Jamaica Observer last week. He said the band is still around, though not as active as 20 years ago when they backed the biggest artistes in dancehall.
"The economy change, one time a promoter coulda buy ticket fi five man, carry dem up an' put dem inna hotel. Dem can't do dat anymore cause dem won't mek any money," Bradshaw said.
Bradshaw is the only original member of the current Jahpostles lineup which also includes guitarist Ian 'Beezy' Coleman and drummer Donovan Miller. They gig sporadically but most of Bradshaw's time is spent at Axx Studios in Norwich, a rustic district just outside of Port Antonio.
There, he and Coleman record local talent and established acts like Louie Culture, Bushman, Junior Murvin and Prezident Brown. The latter's latest album, I Sound Is From Creation, was co-produced by Bradshaw and Coleman at Axx.
"Wi have some nice likkle artiste a do some good work. Even if the world nuh hear most of the song dem, the thing wi do is strive for quality," Bradshaw explained.
He and Coleman believes they show that quality on I Sound Is From Creation which is aimed at breaking Brown, a journeyman roots act, in the mainstream.
The Jahpostles band formed in its hometown of Port Antonio during the late 1970s. It was built around Bradshaw, his older brother, guitarist Anthony Bradshaw, guitarist Lenford Richards and drummer Cecil Hardy.
They were seasoned musicians when they began working with Silk in 1993, as the Bradshaws and Richards had recorded and toured with Burning Spear for almost 10 years.
After leaving Spear, Jahpostles regrouped in Florida where they backed the top dancehall/reggae acts who visited the state. Bradshaw says things picked up even more when they met Silk, a charismatic vocalist who played a pivotal role in dancehall's roots revival.
They first backed him and Sanchez at the Acropolis nightclub in Ocho Rios for a show dubbed 'Double Trouble'. Both were so impressed that Jahpostles became their official band.
Bradshaw rates working with Silk as one of the highlights of his career.
"He had a lotta energy, a lotta spirituality. Garnet Silk was jus' a good person," he said.
At the time of the singer's death in a fire at his mother's home in Manchester, he and Jahpostles had not worked together for one year. Bradshaw recalls talking to him one week before his death.
"Him call mi an' sey, 'Devon, get everybody together, wi a go Negril. Wi a start work again'."
Bradshaw remembers hearing about Silk's death at 4:00 am on December 9, 1994.
"I hear dem playing Love Is The Answer on the radio, then dem sey him dead in a fire. Mi couldn't sleep again," he said.
The Jahpostles stayed around for another year after Silk's death, working with artistes like Capleton, but effectively disbanded once members returned permanently to Florida and England.
Bradshaw decided to stay put in Jamaica, setting up a studio where he and Coleman work feverishly on projects they hope will reach an international audience. I Sound Is From Creation, their most high-profile effort to date, will be released in October.