The Unexpected Gift 

On December 6, 2008,  I arrived at the Hammerstein Ballroom and met  a  large crowd, which gathered together  on a snowy night, for the  Jamrock Magazine, 4th Annual Vintage Fest, promoted by David “Squeeze” Annakie. Unfortunately, the line to purchase tickets  at the door was so long that security announced, “No one else can come in, ”  after a threshold point. A photographer standing next to me said follow me.  As we walked towards a back entrance, she  said “Who do you want to meet, I know everyone.” My first time being back stage at a concert definitely came as a surprise and  I was introduced to several  living legends, including, Frankie Paul,  Sugar Minott,  Brigadier Jerry, Carlton Livingston, Nadine Sutherland and Coco Tea. More After The Jump…

Vintage
But there was one artist,  I was  most excited to meet.  His music blasted in my ears during my younger days  when I witnessed adults press rewind to hear the same line again and again, while listening to his songs. “The Stranger” in my town,  was Gregory Isaacs, who was added to the line up,  when John Holt cancelled. When the door to his dressing room opened, I noticed something was off but could not pinpoint it. He was speaking and friendly but seemed a bit out of it. A production assistant let him know he was next up. “The Cool Ruler”  got up off the couch and propped a Fedora at a tilt on his head and then walked into the stage lights.  As I gazed from behind the curtains,  he pulled it off, lyric by lyric with a perfect  performance. It was as if he drew energy from the crowd, which revitalized him and made him whole. Two years later he died, and I felt fortunate to have met him and that kind photographer. Fast forward to 2014,  I still listen to Gregory Isaacs, albums at a time; meeting the lyrical legend was an unexpected gift.

For this  final edition of Flashback Friday for 2014, we look back at a song from the 1988 Gregory Isaacs album, “Red Rose for Gregory,” produced by Ras Records. In the album’s title track, Gregory Isaacs receives a beautiful red rose from a Secret Santa.  The music legend thinks out loud on this record, trying to figure out who sent him this special delivery; “Who is it from, a question to query. Hmmm! ”  In this monologue, he contemplates the long list of possibilities and studies what can come with this “token of love in secrecy.” Run That!

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