This evening I was invited by the Jamaican Ambassador, the very cool Courteney Rattray, to a night of reggae music as part of both Bob Marley birthday celebrations (he would have been 67 this coming Monday) and the 50th anniversary of Jamaican independence. It was at the small but perfectly formed (if overly smokey... the normal kind) Yugong Yishan club, near the Forbidden City.
I brought my mate Martin along, who knows a thing or two about Jamaican music. Turns out that China played a key role in the history of ska and reggae through Leslie Kong (aka 'The Chinaman') who became the island's leading producer in the 60s. He recorded Bob Marley's first single, One Cup of Coffee, in 1962, Jimmy Cliff's first hit, Miss Jamaica, and loads of others incuding Desmond Dekker. He was also one of the original shareholders in Chris Blackwell's Island Records.
Anyway, it was a top night and we had the pleasure of meeting not only the Director of Kingston's Bob Marley Museum and various Toasters, but also the Ambassadors of Surinam and Cape Verde Islands. That's not something you do everyday.