Six-string Savoury

Reggae’s latest guitar hero

BY RICHARD JOHNSON Observer senior reporter johnsonr@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, May 24, 2015

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HE has played guitar for some of reggae’s finest on some of the biggest stages locally and internationally. Behind the ‘cool’ demeanour of his trademark sunglasses, Lamont ‘Monty’ Savory is a committed musician.


He remembers the first time his soul was stirred by the instrument. It was the riffs of Bob Marley’s Redemption Song which caught the ears of an eight-year-old Savory, and he was hooked.


"Just seeing the guitar in the video did it for me. It just looked like one of the best things ever. Living in St Mary at the time, I made my own from a sardine tin and elastic bands until one day I left it in a place where I should not and my grandfather threw it away." The loss of his ‘guitar’ was a temporary hurdle as by the time he hit high school in the Corporate Area — Camperdown — he was reunited with the instrument.


"When I got to grade nine the school got some instruments. The music teacher said some people would be doing piano, some recorder and some guitar... my hand went up instantly for the guitar. We learned a few songs and I would then go to the music room every afternoon to practice tunes I heard on the radio," 31-year-old Savory told the Sunday Observer.


While Marley was the inspiration, and Camperdown the introduction, it was the Edna Manley College for the Visual and Performing Arts in Kingston that allowed Savory to blossom, bloom and bear fruit. He recalls, as if it was yesterday, his introduction to the campus.


"It was career day, and as I walked onto the grounds it felt like Heaven... that’s the only way I can describe it. There was the sound of steel band playing and as I went in I heard other musical sounds; I thought to myself this must be what Heaven sounds like." Savory got so caught up in the ambience that he ditched his touring party and found a group of student musicians rehearsing. He didn’t realise the school bus had left him.


He would have to find his way home. Unperturbed, he left with a conviction, went home and told his mother music was what he wanted to do, even though he was stringer in the visual arts. "I really don’t know what Mr (lecturer/guitarist Maurice) Gordon saw in me when I auditioned for the School of Music. He obviously saw something in me.


Knowing what I know now, If I were auditioning myself then I would not have made it ," Savory muses. That was 2000. By 2002, Savory was on his first international tour as a guitarist with the Area Youth Foundation, run by Sheila Graham, for performances in the United Kingdom and Italy. He and other classmates would form the band CSharp, which gained traction and even released an album, but are currently pursuing personal interests.


"We were always being put into random groups by (lecturer) Mr Ibo Cooper at the Edna Manley College and somehow we always ended up being together, so we decided to take it to the next level and form a band. It was great while it lasted and we shared some bittersweet moments.


As you can well understand, a group filled with musical minds creates a lot of back and forth, but it was great. We are not doing anything right now as our lead singer Chevaughn wanted to pursue some solo work, and we all support him," said Savory, who has just returned to the island after helping back rising-star Protoje on his three-week tour of Europe. "It was a successful tour, if I may say so.


We were able to do a number of clubs as well as a few of the festivals in Spain, France, Sweden and Germany. I had performed on a number of the tracks on his album, and went on the road with him this time to help promote the project."


When faced with the dilemma of choosing live versus recording, a live set gets the edge as Savory loves the immediate reaction he gets from an audience.


Savory’s skills can also be heard on AcousticaLevy, the latest project by Barrington Levy. Savory, whose musical influences range from Marley to Jimi Hendrix, Eric Gale and Eric Johnson as well as the Third World Band, is passionate about moving his skills to the next level.


"I am open to working with anyone who comes forward, once I am available. But I really see myself owning a studio. A personal studio where I can have international clients coming in for a session. Taking the instrument to a real business level. I think a lot of musicians get carried away and see the music as fun...


Yes it’s fun, but it’s also my business. That’s why when people ask ‘where are you playing?’ I tell them I’m not playing... I am working," he stated.


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