It’s finally time, Boston Mass(ive): tonight, Tuesday April 17, we’ve got the city’s undisputed #1 reggae selector, the mighty Junior Rodigan, in the house at Beat Research!
We’ve been wanting to have Junior over for a long time now, and though we’d welcome any set from him, we’ve taken the special occasion to ask him to go beyond what he typically gets to do — a lot of his gigs around town and spots on the radio are necessarily up-to-the-time affairs, though Junior is always careful to slip some history in. Of course, digging deep isn’t necessarily so easy for someone who, I’m told, now keeps 90% of his tens of thousands of records in storage. Based on what’s accessible, Junior’s decided to put together a classic set, dedicated to the foundational productions of Studio One and Treasure Isle. In other words, this deeply knowledgeable reggae selector will offer a guided tour through some of the biggest tunes and riddims cooked up in the late 60s / early 70s down in Kingston-town. Should sound absolutely sublime through the big subs and speakers downstairs at the the Good Life.
If you don’t know, Junior has a pretty interesting story. He takes his stage name, of course, from “Father” Rodigan, aka Sir David “RamJam” Rodigan, England’s irrepressible reggae ambassador for decades now. (This remains my favorite clip of the man in action.) Born in Iran, Junior first came under David’s tutelage as a young man growing up in London, where he would religiously tune into the elder Rodigan’s highly educational reggae radio shows. Moving to Boston in the early 80s, Junior was impressed to find a fledgling reggae scene and quickly became ensconced in things, from Dorchester to Cambridge, working as a party DJ, a promoter, a record label and record store operator, and in many many other supporting — and leading — acts. Impressively, he just hosted a 25th anniversary bash this past weekend.
Tribute to his namesake aside, Junior long ago established his own name here in Boston and more widely in the northeast as a stalwart for repping reggae here in the USA. Just watch him at work in the video below with some serious dancehall DJs & singers (“Star time, me say!”) during his drive-time show on Big City 101.3, the biggest Caribbean radio station here in town. Note how he presides over the action, not afraid to shout requests — “One more ting!” he shouts at 2min in, “(W)hol’ on now!” — and take part in the fun. The niceness of the session is a true testament to Junior’s vibes –
But Junior’s standing on the scene here well predates the rise of Big City. As featured here a couple weeks ago, you might have caught this clip of him rocking with the Almighty RSO back in 1991, adding some ruff ragga filigree to their sound at a moment when flip-tongue Jamaican rap signified the hardest of the hardcore. And Junior made a number of other recordings as a vocalist at a time when such skills could really command an audience. I wish that he could play us an entire set from these semi-obscure but treasured times, but that may have to wait for an official excavation. In the meantime, we can appreciate some great moments from a fine moment in time–
This one betrays a touch more of a UK accent than he has these days (his inimitable English-Jamaican-Bostonian brogue remains one of my favorite things on the airwaves):
And here he is playing lovers-rock deejay over a smoove take on a Johnny Gil jam from Errol Strength:
Another big chune yah —
And this may be his best known of all, another BIG lovers-rock jam; indeed, this one was such a hit that it merited inclusion on Strictly The Best Vol. 8! — a rare distinction for Jamaican artists, never mind Iranian-born, English-raised, Boston-transplants like Junior:
Here’s hoping we can give Junior the eager Beat Research reception he deserves. Hope to see you tonight. A some real nice vibrations to be shared, truss…