Hanging at the Reggae Van and Saturday Finds

Reggae Van

It’s Saturday, and of course it means it’s time to go record digging. Today was pretty fruitful, as I scored some great 45s, and a handful of Reggae 45s and Lps out of what I call, The Reggae Van. About a month ago, I see this older Jamaican guy with records, so of course I stop to chat. I can not pass up some 45s straight from JA. His patois is not super thick, but he introduces himself as King Bravo, and claims he has played with the Skatalites. The first few times I bought from him, I got some Soul, and a really nice Roots full length. The van is literally filled with junk, but the records are kind of neat, and you really have to go through them. All the while there are a couple, yes a couple (he switches from one to the other) of radios and tape players blaring Soul or Reggae. As the music is playing, he’s talking about Tommy McCook, and how he himself started out in Calypso, then switched to Ska. It’s definitely interesting, but the music is so damn loud, it’s hard to sample records. The great thing about the van is that it’s almost like a Sound System, and he’s got the inside of the van doors open, speakers out, having a soundclash with the old lady cranking up smooth Jazz in the next spot. Bravo has a lot of record covers taped to the inside of the van doors, covers of Moms Mabley, various Reggae and Skatalites Lp jackets. You can see by the photos below.

King Bravo 1
King Bravo 2

This man loves his Reggae and Ska, and he will talk about it for days. He said he is having a hard time making it here, because the petrol costs him way too much to get where he needs to go. I had to dig, and I got some great records, which hopefully helped out with the petrol until next weekend. The jury is still out whether or not he has played with the Skatalites.

The usual suspects were out this weekend.. In fact, they were crowding Stinkie Steve’s table. Word has it around the spot that he has been banned from yet another flea market, so he is ever present at my spot. (The story goes is that he was banned from setting up a table, but if he paid 2 bucks he could sell in the parking lot. Well, he didn’t want to pay the 2 bucks, so he got banned for life.) In fact, it was like a stare down when I walked by his table and didn’t buy records from him. I saw “Egg Beard” (thanks Tommy for that one), who was rumored once to sell a quarter record for like 2 grand, and will try to push you out of the way, even going as far as to dig in your same crate. For me, I don’t go for that shit, and haven’t had to elbow him in the chest as a close acquaintance of mine did, but am not against a little shove if one of these record crazies gets in my personal space. I’m serious about records, but some of these guys who do it for a living get a bit wacky and will try to see how far they can get with you, even try to intimidate you, which is hilarious. It’s the flea market for God’s sake. I moved on. “Johnny No Change” only had one and a half crates, the half was nothing but Bowie records and the other mixed. I had to wait because this really annoying guy who is always digging through crates with one hand, while the other is on a cell phone to someone probably Popsiking everything in each crate. It goes a little something like this: “Urbie Green..yeah Jazz. Mott the Hoople, yeah the grey label, wait here’s a Quincy Jones”…on and friggin’ on every week. He’s next on the list. If I have to wait one more time for him, he might just get the elbow. DJ Jack the Ripper was hanging tough (I hope he got some good stuff) at Steve’s table, but honestly, there are enough records to be bought elsewhere. The process you go through to get prices, it kind of wears on you. I may eventually go back to him, but who knows. Steve is gonna miss out on my buying. I buy a lot of records every week, so it’s his wallet that’s gonna hurt. My normal dealer set me up with some great records (as always), and I was happy to get out of there in about two hours before the heat of the sun really started warping what’s for sale. Here’s a list of the 45s I got:

Seven Seas – Pat’s Jam/ Glades
Sandy Wynns – Love Belongs to Everyone/ Champion
Al Wilson – Keep On Lovin’ You
Otis Clay – This Kind of Lovin’/ Cotillion
Mary Wells – Can’t You See/ Atco
Chairman of the Board – Finder’s Keepers/ Invictus
Black Blood – A.I.E./ Mainstream
Ike & Tina Turner – Beauty Is Just Skin Deep/ Tangerine
Black Ivory – Love Won’t You Stay/ Buddah
Garnet Mimms – Stop and Check Yourself/ GSF
Renaldo Domino – Just Say the Word/ Blue Rock
Jacob Miller – All Day Til Daylight/ Jam Sounds
Flick Wilson – Keep the Troubles Down/ Ultra
Roman Stewart – Doing Fine/ Aiken
Jah Brundy – Shaolin Disciples b/w Joe Gibbs and the Professionals – Kick To Yu Chin/ Belmont

I got a couple of nice original Bob Marley records from Bravo, and some assorted sampling records from the “Old Lisp Guy”, who is happy even when it rains. I had to buy 3 records to make a buck, so I copped a Blue Magic and a George Baker Selection to round it off. All in all, not a bad day. I’d say the best score of the day was the Flick Wilson and the Seven Seas, which will definitely be reviewed sooner than later. I also picked up an old Jazz Encyclopedia for 2 bucks, plus some crazy comic book that looks like it could be good flyer material by an artist named Tom Skinner. It’s called “Up from Harlem”, and it’s a blaxploitation Christian comic, but the imagery will work for some future gig flyers. Stay tuned in the upcoming weeks for a special treat. I got an interview with a Rare Groove and Funk artist from the Louisiana area. I actually tracked him down and we spoke briefly yesterday, so that’s on the horizon. Keep Diggin’!

21 responses to “Hanging at the Reggae Van and Saturday Finds

  1. I find your tales of crate-digging adventures to be fascinating. Partly because of the characters you describe, but also because there is nothing like it out here in the Midwest. If there is, I’m not aware of it. Keep digging. It’s much appreciated.

  2. Thanks Jeff. I guess I’m lucky in that respect, that we have some pretty great characters as well as a good amount of vinyl that comes through on a weekly basis. Glad you dig the blog.

  3. Nice stuff Pres. That Seven Seas is slept on. I will have a King Bravo find in the weeks to come as well (If I ever recover from him blasting Moms Mabley in my ear at maximum volume…)

  4. Yeah, I love the digging stories too. And, of course, the lists of what you’ve found.

    I go to flea markets and record shows regularly here but don’t get to meet up with the interesting characters that you describe. I must be doing something wrong!

    Anyway, taking a camera with you to your digging spots is a great idea, given the folks you buy from. The nicknames you’ve given all of them are a hoot too.

  5. yeah, i still have a list of people i haven’t even talked about yet. i really should write an article and submit it to a couple of magazines, i think that would be the real hoot!

  6. The great thing about these stories is that there all true!

    Egg beard, the meatball, stinky steve…

    Speaking of stinky steve there were talking about him in a record store in philly this weekend…. crazy i tell ya!

    and remind me to tell you about about the “Haul” I scored on a street corner in the Hood in West Philly this weekend!!!!!

    Lp’s galore!!!!!!

  7. i’ve never been at val’s but i’ve heard it was madcrazy packed with records. Jen has been there.

    by the way, to add to the cast of characters out there at the spot, have you ever bought records from “the wig”?

    The old dude with the van & the bad rug?

    hahaha!

    Meatball, egg beard, stinky steve, the wig…

    carzy man crazy

  8. hahaha!

    yep, the one and the same….

    here’s some of my street corner album scores…

    Donny Hathaway – Extension of a Man – ATCO
    Rudy Ray Moore – Eat Out More Often – Kent
    Brother to Brother – In The Bottle – Turbo
    Maxayn- Bail Out For Fun – Capricorn
    The New Birth – Birth Day – RCA
    Mandrill – Mandrill Is – Polydor
    Mandrill – Sound – UA
    Funkadelic- Uncle Jam Wants You – WB
    Doug Carn – Revelation – Black Jazz
    Graham Central Station- Aint No Bout-A-Doubt It – WB
    The J.B.’s – Doing It To Death – People
    The Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band – Together – WB
    Idris Muhammad – Black Rhythm Revolution- Prestige
    Sly & the Family Stone – Life – Epic
    Clarence Carter – Patches – Atlantic
    Chuck Berry – St. Louis to Liverpool – Chess

    and….

    Kiss – Double Platinum – Casablanca

    why that dude had a kiss album is beyond me but it had the original send away form for kiss swag and the miniature platinum record so I bought it!

  9. Yeah, imagine scoring a Rudy Ray Moore album on the street corner.

    True story: A few weeks ago, I took my car to one of those quickie lube places to get the oil changed. When it was finished, the guy who came in to ring me up asked what CD was playing in my car because he really liked it. It was none other than the Rudy Ray Moore disc that Norton Records released a few years back. Pretty uncommon to get a question like that in rural, southern Illinois.

  10. Hey where did you find this guy?
    I saw him at a two flea-markets in NJ in one weekend. On a Friday I asked if had any Skatalites CDs, which I’ve been looking for for weeks. after seeing him on a Friday I took a chance on a random ska-CD at another booth, that Sunday at another market I saw King Bravo and one of the CD’s on his Van-door was the one I bought. Sure enough the liner listed King Bravo as on vocals I quickly had him sing the case. I talked with him for an hour, he didn’t know much about 3rd wave ska (ska-punk), but he comped me some dub records and I gave him a promo-CD of Catch22 (also bought at flea market). He’s a cool guy and I buy his story, because its not like he claims he is Bob Marley’s brother.
    As for the CD, “Tommy McCook and Friends,” it is good stuff. And the tracks he claims to sing sound like him.

  11. word is bond I just brought a bunch of joints form him for like 50 cents each and I to was told of how he was in the skatalites… I believe him he had some pictures of himself and we talked for a minute about Jamaica.At first I was hesitant to buy some of the recods I saw because how many Montovani records can you have LOL…yet again Im a record man so with a lil more patience I was able to uncover some good ones..He was at the Piscataway Flea market In Arbor… He said he would like to go home man I wish him good luck….

  12. cool man , great site , i am familiar with ” the spot” but don’t get out there that much , i go to ” another spot ” locally , and it shares many of the same “suspects” stinky ( banned here too ) , egg beard ( although he’s known here as ” dirty santa ” ) , joe aka Q-joe , etc. , KING BRAVO comes out from time to time , with the van ( saw him today ) he’s the real deal . anyway , the site is great , local stuff plus lot’s of record info , sounds etc. , good job , and good luck next time out . peace -J

  13. I met King Bravo in Dec of 1982 in the Canal St flea market on a cold Sat morning. I was with my younger brother Steve as he was on leave from the Navy. The one thing I notice about Bravo today in May 2009 where I see recent pictures of him on the internet sites, is that he doesn’t look any older than he did 27 years ago. I find that amazing. His story back then was that he was the main influence and mentor to Bob Marley in teaching him how to play and preform. I believed him back then as I still do today.

  14. Hands off the crate in which I am looking please. Only one’s friends (in highschool) can do that rude move. That’s how Jonny B. scored a nice old “My Generation” LP…”what the hell, Man?!”

  15. King Bravo passed away this week. He was in fact a close associate of the Skatalites for many years. Lloyd Brevett the bass player for the band lived at his house in Newark and the band used to rehearse there. When I joined the band I auditioned with Tommy McCook at his house. Bravo sang with many great Jamaican artists and was originally a Calypsonian. It is truly wonderful to read these stories of my old friend as I have not seen him since 1998. God bless his journey…Nathan Breedlove(former trumpeter for the Skatalites 1990-98).

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