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JIS News

Story Highlights

  • The Montego Bay Boys and Girls Club Marching Band, the oldest of its kind in the English-speaking Caribbean, plans to show off its new sound over the Emancipation and Independence celebrations, with its significantly boosted woodwind section.
  • The band, which is celebrating its seventy-third anniversary, was recently presented with five new saxophones by the Rotary Club of Montego Bay East.
  • According to Director of the band, Patrick Clarke, the gift of five tenor, alto and baritone saxophones, valued at US$125,000.00, has renewed the organization’s commitment to an excellent sound.

The Montego Bay Boys and Girls Club Marching Band, the oldest of its kind in the English-speaking Caribbean, plans to show off its new sound over the Emancipation and Independence celebrations, with its significantly boosted woodwind section.

The band, which is celebrating its seventy-third anniversary, was  recently presented with five new saxophones by the Rotary Club of Montego Bay East.

According to Director of the band, Patrick Clarke, the gift of five tenor, alto and baritone saxophones, valued at US$125,000.00, has renewed the organization’s commitment to an excellent sound.

“We are overwhelmed, very overwhelmed. As a non-profit organization, it is difficult to finance these kinds of equipment…so this is a blessing for us and it will enhance the quality sound of the band and also each member’s ability to play better,”  he tells JIS News,  while admitting that the band still uses instruments that have been in its possession since 1962.

Promising to raise the benchmark for marching bands in western Jamaica, Mr. Clarke assures that,  “we are going to take marching band (standards) to new heights… this August will be a surprise to all (rival) bands.”

The boys and girls club relies on the generosity of private sponsors to fund its multifaceted programme to use music, the arts and social training as the forces to uplift troubled youth from some of the city’s depressed communities.

President of the Rotary Club of Montego Bay East, Marcus McKenzie, in an interview with JIS News, commended the longstanding relationship between the two organizations, noting that the Rotarians were impressed by the impact the Boys and Girls Club has had on the sons and daughters of St James for more than seven decades.

He said the Rotary Club of Montego Bay East has been a silent partner with the club over the years.

“We found it appropriate for us as a club, to contribute and assist them with musical instruments which could assist with their overall growth, and produce better quality music from them,” Mr. McKenzie said.

From its location on the south side of Montego Bay, the boys and girls club continues to provide a safe haven and incubator for the development of inner city children in a variety of disciplines, ranging from sport, culture, vocational training, and academics, in tandem with spiritual and civic instruction.

The programme is geared at promoting high standards of education, health, character and citizenship among the boys and girls who would otherwise be hanging out with the wrong crowd and roaming the streets.

The club’s daily homework, computer, remedial reading and mathematics classes are continuing the tradition of  excellent offerings delivered by patient volunteer tutors who, for the most part, are past students.

Among the impressive list of prominent Jamaicans the club has produced are respected cricket umpire and FIFA referee, Steve Bucknor; dental surgeon, Dr Keith Young; accomplished author and lecturer at Jamaica Theological Seminary, Dr. the Rev. Clinton Chisholm; the club’s current Chairman and Jamaica’s only master music teacher, Carl Matthews; Rhodes Scholars, Danny Miller and the late Professor Rex Nettleford.

Among the celebrated musicians who have honed their skills at the club are cabaret artiste, ‘Stammer’ Haughton and Anthony ‘Ruption’ Williams of Third World band fame.