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Tuesday, March 07, 2006

I'm a bad boy

Jet J should be a Boston legend. I first found him in late 2001 at Club Passim, in Harvard Square, playing at an open mic. Actually, that's the only place I ever found him. Looking somewhere around 50 and clearly not rich, he explained that he was from Bermuda, but lived around Boston now. Then he played "The Way it Go," a Bermuda-influenced song so good it HAD to be a cover. I think I asked him afterwards if it was a Sugarhill Gang song and he corrected me, "no no that's an original."
I was shocked that he wasn't famous yet.
The only way to describe his guitar-playing is that it flows. Like a great soul guitarist, with some 60's pop thrown in, he creates a reggae-like groove with two chords and some syncopated riffs over them, that just captivates the audience. But his guitar is only half of it. His vocal call-and-response can only be compared to the old school hip-hop of the Sugarhill Gang, but the two are still completely different.
Can you tell that I don't know how to describe his music? That's because it's totally original. Maybe the best description came from the emcee of the open mic one night, "Every time Jet J plays, I feel like I need a colorful drink with an umbrella in it."
Once again, that sounds terrible out of context. I'm not so good at this describing stuff, so I'll cut it short.
Sadly, I didn't record "The Way it Go" at that first performance, but, the next time I went, I brought my tape recorder and recorded him performing the almost-as-good, "Bad Boy."
Then I did some exhaustive research and found a webcast of a radio show he played live on. I am totally unable to find that show now, so it's probably safe to post all three songs he played on it. The female DJ decided to do backing vocals on "Who Are They?" but even she can't ruin that great song.

The Way it Go (definitely download this one first)
Who Are They
One Fine Day

And, from my live bootleg,

Bad Boy

It looks like Jet J has either moved or quit playing music. Or died. Who knows, but the last thing I can find about him online is from 2003. Also, I'm not entirely sure if his name is spelled J or Jay, but the few websites there are refer to him as Jet J, so I'll go with that. If you have any information on Jet J, please comment.

Where I dreamed my dreams

You all know Jonathan Richman, no history necessary.
Here's a beautiful live recording I made of his show at The Earl, in Atlanta, last year. This was the last song he played, and it was a request from some woman in the audience. Sort of weird, considering that The Fenway is in my other home, Boston.

The Fenway