Shella Records

A mini doc about Stranger Cole’s Toronto Roots.

Jamaican Ska and Reggae legend Stranger Cole moved to Toronto in the early 1970s leaving stardom behind. Despite his talent he was forced to work at the Tonka Toy factory and as a security guard at Eaton’s to make a living. He eventually established the first Caribbean business in Kensington Market – a record store and label at 58 Kensington Ave. Check out a short teaser which I made in collaboration with Graeme Mathieson!

Rothadam played on BBC 6 by Gilles Peterson!

Super excited to have support from Gilles on this latest release!




Rothadam- Still a Rebel

Rothadam’s Rebel was one of the first Reggae 45s I found when I moved to Canada, inside a barrel in the basement of Monica’s Records on Eglinton Ave West.

At the time there was no information about it online and I spent years trying to find out more about this remarkable singer with the unusual name.

After placing an add in a local Caribbean newspaper I tracked down Rothadam and played him some of his music that he hadn’t heard in 40 years.
Licensed reissue of “I Was Born To Be A Rebel” out in 2017.
Just listen to that voice!

Toronto’s buried Reggae history

I am obsessed with Toronto’s Reggae history. As a visual artists I explore this obsession in my practice. Though it doesn’t get the respect it deserves here in Canada the experiments made by Jamaican Canadians in tiny studios across the city in the 70s and 80s are among the richest cultural contributions of any Canadians across any art form. I spoke to musician and engineer John Forbes about his strange introduction to Reggae music as a Jamaican kid who moved to Canada before Reggae existed. He also revealed that Rita Marley lived on Degrassi St!

The second video explores John’s role as house engineer at the notorious Half Moon studios, a place which produced some sublime 45s in the mid 70s, records which now change hands for over $500 a piece in collectors circles across the globe.

Percussion legend Larry Mcdonald in NYC

While searching for Sheila Rickards in NYC I met up with the irrepressible Larry Mcdonald who was her old bandmate in the early 1960s. Though he is well known in Reggae and Jazz circles and even recorded and performed with Gil Scott Heron for decades I first came Larry Mac’s name on the back of an old record. Moonlight Party at The Myrtle Bank Hotel is an extremely rare Jazz Lp by Jamaican Vibraphonist Lennie Hibbert. The Lennie Hibbert combo existed before the advent of Ska and featured Larry Macdonald on percussion and a teenage Sheila Rickards on vocals.

Larry is a fascinating guy with a wealth of stories about his 50+ years in the business who is still going strong and now tours with Lee Perry. He has been actively trying to find Sheila Rickards for some time and remembers her fondly. He also revealed a piece of information which I had never heard before and as an Australian seemed almost too crazy to credit:

LM: “I heard she had moved to Australia and went underground…”

Searching for Sheila in Kingston, Jamaica

I’m following some new leads and have travelled to Kingston Jamaica to continue the search for Sheila Rickards. It’s been incredible, intense and rewarding- I’ve met some of my musical heroes and visited some of Jamaican music history’s sacred sites. Here are some pics of the trip so far.

Top to bottom: Guitarist Earl Chinna Smith,
The abandoned Palace Theatre,
Channel One Studios


Palace theatre

Chanel one studios

The legendary Ernest Ranglin.

Ernie ranglin

I had the privilege of meeting Ernie Ranglin over the weekend when he performed in Toronto. At 82 he is still an incredible performer switching effortlessly between Ska and Jazz virtuoso riffs. I got the chance to interview him in a back room of the venue and over the din of a fax machine and printer going bezerk he told some incredible stories. I wondered if he might have remembered Sheila Rickards from the early days of his career…

“One thing I can tell me she was the greatest of them all…”

Review in The Perlich Post

Great review by verteran digger/journalist Tim Perlich:

“…don’t sleep on this one. With celebrity UK broadcaster Gilles Peterson already hyping it  like a new Galliano joint on Brownswood, the entire pressing run may sell out before word spreads to dealers that there’s also a documentary film in the works.”

Release Party!

Join us for the Record release party, April 4th in Toronto! The party’s at double double land in Kensington Market, Toronto – hope to see you there.

Facebook Event: Launch Party Toronto!

Review in Exclaim magazine

Jamaican Fruit of African Roots has been reviewed in Exclaim magazine.

“Expertly cut at Berlin’s famed Dubplates & Mastering, Jamaican Fruit is a unique musical curiosity rescued from the brink of obscurity and a must for reggae collectors.”

Click here to read more!

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