Photo courtesy of FleaMarket Funk Archives
Today I was going through some photos in the Flea Market Funk archive and I stumbled upon a folder from a Lee “Scratch” Perry show from some years ago I went to in Asbury Park, NJ at the Stone Pony. It’s quite an intimate venue and I was able to get up front for the show. He was backed by a band called Dub Is A Weapon, and in typical Scratch fashion he came out like an alien from another galaxy. Dressed in a moto-x jump suit with custom hat, boots, and microphone, he put on a show of shows for a not so packed house. The man was into his 70’s and still had the energy and fervor of a young man. As I watched the show and photographed all I could, I thougt about him in the Black Ark Studio, and what it would have been like to see him in action there live. Or perhaps what records he had saved over the years if he had at all. If there were records saved, how great would it have been to hear him play a few and talk about them? The man is essential to the genre, and no matter what you may think of his antics these days, he helped shape reggae culture in many ways. It was late in the show and as I snapped a bunch of photos, he held his hand out to me and grabbed mine. It was at that exact moment I realized that I was touching reggae music itself. The hand that had created those tracks with Bob Marley. The hand that had recorded so many musicians in Jamaica. The hand that was reggae music. Powerful stuff to a kid originally from South Jersey, who never dreamed at being close to musicians or artists he admired. Here I was a man, close to one of the greats, and feeling whatever cosmic energy Scratch was throwing out. I don’t think Scratch and I will ever cross paths again, but for one moment I was there with him along the journey. For some it may sound silly, for those who live and breathe this music, this chance encounter was one I’ll never forget. Long live reggae music and ‘big respect to de man de call Lee Perry’.
Scratch in the studio: