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In The Spotlight: Bizot Bar Opens, RIDDIM speaks, LEGENDary Eats

In The Spotlight: Bizot Bar Opens, RIDDIM speaks, LEGENDary Eats

In The Spotlight: Bizot Bar Opens, RIDDIM speaks, LEGENDary Eats

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Last week in Jamaica: Chris Blackwell, Bizot Bar, Radio Nova, Riddim Magazine and Legend Cafe

Alborosie, Chris Blackwell


Chris Blackwell, the man who brought reggae to the world via Bob Marley, turned his attention decades ago to developing the Jamaican vacation industry with upscale properties including Strawberry Hill in the Blue Mountains, the Caves on Negril's cliffs, and Golden Eye – the former home of James Bond creator Ian Fleming, that he has transformed into a collection of beautifully designed 'rustic' dwellings overlooking a spectacular beach on the north coast at Oracbessa.

It was there that he launched the Bizot Bar, a new extension to the beach in the form of a bar and restaurant dedicated is named for French counter-culture connoisseur, Jean-Francois Bizot (1944-2007) - a world traveler, free-thinker, talent spotter and African music promoter who founded and edited the seminal French underground magazine, Actuel, in the 1970s. It was a magazine unlike all other publications that musician David Byrne described as, “An glossy, alternative view of the whole world, that reported on global culture - Fela Kuti, China, science, local oddballs, politics, art.”

In 1982, France’s president Mitterand changed the country’s media law and Bizot found a new medium from which to rock French culture: Radio Nova, that came to Jamaica from Paris to broadcast live at the opening. Radio Nova with Chris BlackwellThe live radio broadcast continued throughout the day, with interviews of such reggae music icons as Toots Hibbert, Stephen 'Cat' Coore and Bunny Rugs of Third world, legendary guitarist Earl 'Chinna' Smith, Italian-born reggae star Alborosie, Kiddus I, and new female singing stars I-Eye.

The beach bar sits directly facing the wide blue sea and beach, with tables laid out on patios including and a turquoise-and-gold tiled wading pool. Throughout the day buffet stations served a variety of delectable dishes, while the bar specialized in the Golden Eye rum punch, made with Blackwell Rum.

BizotOther guests included Minister of Culture Olivia Grange, film makers Carlo 'Amlak' Less ('Rise Up'), Storm Saulter ('Betta Mus Come'), Sally and Justine Henzell, visiting London actress Judith Hepburn, Sheila Graham of Area Youth drama group, UWI Professor Carolyn Cooper of the Global Reggae Studies Center, artist Judy Ann MacMillan.

Special guest and Blackwell BF Jimmy Buffet made a most spectacular departure from both the party and Jamaica, zooming past the party in a low flyover in his private jet which took off from the nearby Ian Fleming aerodrome. And a most spectacular late entrance was made by singer/actress/superstar Grace Jones dressed in a flowing hooded caftan and ever-present shades, accompanied by her film maker friend Sophie Fiennes and her baby Lucky.

A very good time was had by all.


Ellen Koehlings and Peter Lilly, editors of German reggae magazine RIDDIM, were the featured presenters of the 2nd Annual Reggae International Lecture, hosted by the Global Reggae Studies Center at Studio 38, New Kingston on Febuary 15. The event was presented by Professor Carolyn Cooper, founder of the Global Reggae Studies Unit, and introduced by E.U. Ambassador Marco Alemani. The ambassador said reggae music is about roots and freedom, which was why it appealed to the youth, who have taken it around the world.

Etana with Riddim editorsIn an hour-long presentation titled “Burning Illusions: Celebrating 10 Years of Reggae Journalism in Europe”, the RIDDIM editors took turns speaking, as they explained how they came to discover reggae and then decided to become advocates of reggae. Having grown to love the music, they were dismayed by incorrect and sometimes racist articles in German publications about reggae and the culture in which reggae was born, so they started writing articles to change misconceptions of that culture.

The magazine was first launched in 2001, featuring articles about all the reggae stars and some of the upcoming ones. Ellen and Pete started making annual trips to Jamaica in 2007, visiting cultural activities, historical Jamaican places and meeeting people at all levels of Jamaican cultural life. In 2005 Professor Cooper persuaded them to publish an edition in English which unfortunately lasted for only 7 issues, but led to even greater popularity of the magazine, both in Jamaica and Europe.

RIDDIM has helped launch the careers of artists countless Jamaican artists, as well as European artists such as Gentleman and Alborosie. The pages have included a Patois dictionary, articles on film, dance, theatre and art, the pages of RIDDIM are a history of Jamaican music seen through the eyes of two of the most fervent lovers of Jamaican culture. The large audience present showed their appreci-LOVE.


Want a cool glass of lemonade? A toasted chicken sandwich? A hearty vegan gungo peas stew? Not only can you enjoy these culinary delights serenaded by the music of Jamaica's reggae hero, but you can do so while watching an impromptu football match whose players include the sons of Bob Marley, Chris Blackwell and Carl Bradshaw! 

Legend Cafe

This is the ambience at the Bob Marley Museum Legend Cafe, nestled under a massive mango tree that shades breezy, open verandahs and an enclosed dining room. Operated by Charmaine Elliot of Kingston Six Catering Co., the Legend Cafe offers tasty Jamaican cuisine that is both traditional and innovative, including Chicken and Fish (but no Pork). Vegetarians are specially catered to, with Stew Peas, Tofu and Vegetable Stew daily, as well as glorious salads. 

The lunchtime rush includes Museum tourists, take-away boxes ordered by workers in nearby offices and special orders for meetings and parties. Legend Cafe hosts several functions each month, from birthdays, book launches and corporate functions, to live entertainment events at night featuring reggae stars, as well as up-coming artists.

Legend Cafe

There's always a Marley son or daughter passing through this famous Kingston address, and the Legend Cafe is an important participant in all the special events celebrating Bob Marley Month. The vibe and the food are always right at the Legend Cafe.

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