Before Reggae Hit the Town Documentary

Before Reggae Hit The TownMark Gorney of the San Francisco Vintage Reggae Society is no stranger to vintage Jamaican music. He’s been a collector for way too many years to count as well as a publicist focusing on Reggae and World Music among other endeavors.

Back in 1989 though he was a student at the London International Film School. As his graduation film he decided to make a documentary that took a look at Afro-Jamaican musical and religious traditions. It was shot on 16mm film entirely on location in the parish of St. Ann, Jamaica in October 1989. The finished film features the late Justin Hinds among others.

He had this to say about the film itself:

I am not now, nor was I ever, an ethnomusicologist and this film does not attempt to be an authoritative or even comprehensive document on the subject; it was more a self-imposed exercise or assignment: go to Jamaica with the intent of making of a film about the deaths of Peter Tosh (and Carlton Barrett and Michael Smith), and when that doesn’t work out, film something else.

I was an inexperienced film student and Jamaican music lover deeply inspired by Alan Greenberg’s “Land of Look Behind.” It was my first time in Jamaica and the film was shot under difficult and rudimentary conditions. The final product is certainly not without flaws and errors. It was not the film I wanted to make but I present it mostly due to popular demand.

Parts of the Pocomania sequence were stolen and used without permission in Red X, the film about Peter Tosh (thanks), but footage of Justin and his Nyabinghi brethren was licensed to and featured in “Wingless Angels – A Short Film,” included in the Wingless Angels Limited Deluxe Edition Box Set (Mindless Records).

Special thanks to producer, sound recorder and editor Alejandro Springall for invaluable guidance and assistance in post production. Without your help it would never have happened.

So sit back and watch this student film from a fan by a fan about the music from that little island in the sun.

Part I

Part II

I've been involved in the Los Angeles music scene since at least 1995 going to shows, promoting, spinning records and running labels. Ska and Early Reggae are my passion among other things of course.