October 17, 1996, Thursday, Limoges (France)


2nd day, Limoges, France, Thursday, 17th of october 1996, Salle John Lennon


All day long, our white bus is following this blue van with Laurel, Shay, Barney & The Skatalites. The blue van is filled with the equipment and our white bus with all the luggage. Our driver is Duncan from Australia. It’s his first visit to Europe. He never saw snow in his life so far. I explain him, that we will see snow on this tour, because, the tour is planning to go up to Finland, in November.

In our bus nobody really knows, what’s going on, Shay only tells us, what we have to know from point to point. That’s why we have to follow the blue van and never have to loose him.

I’m sitting on the driver’s side, because, it’s a British van, the driver sit on the right side. That’s why I have to pay at toll stations and have to look carefully what’s going on left of the van.

I have to help Shay, when we need to ask the way to the clubs or hotels.

Limoges is a well known city for glass. I was in the same club and hotel with The Skatalites the year before. I like it very much.

We check-in the Buffalo Grill. Lester Sterling takes the piano in the hotel lobby to play some nice tunes. In the background there’s a birds cage. Yes, Lester Sterling is also known as the Bird of Jamaica. In reference of the great Bird Charlie Parker. And in 1995 in Dijon came an old man to me, and told me, that the alto saxophonist is playing like The Bird. And he didn’t know Lester at all. I realize, that Lester is a great musician, not only on Saxophone. He started playing with Rico Rodriguez on the streets in Kingston. At the beginning Lester was trumpet player. He later changed to the alto saxophone. But he also played the flute. In 1997 I let him playing my flute in the backstage in Berne.

Lester Sterling playing the piano at Buffalo Grill in Limoges 1996
Lester Sterling playing the piano at Buffalo Grill in Limoges 1996

The Salle John Lennon is a very nice place. The DJ is placed vis-à-vis the stage on the balcony. I can see the audience from top. A truly nice place to be. The C-lection is well done. The first set I played modern sounds (dub, ragga-ska etc.), the second set (after HOR, before Laurel) I played latin styles and before The Skatalites I changed from 2-Tone to African styles. After the show, I played El Pussy Cat in the Mongo Santamaria version and changed then to Reggae. That was the point, when I saw the musicians of HOR dancing to the sound. Curfew 01.00 AM.

Backstage pass Skasplash Limoges 1996
Backstage pass Skasplash Limoges 1996

While The Skatalites playing «Nelson’s Song», one string of Lloyd Brevetts bass is broken. The band plays on, like nothing happen. Bill Smith takes the bass line on the keyboard. After 3/4 of the tune, Brevett come back into the tune with the bass line. After the show, Brevett explains me, that it wasn’t the string broken, but the bridge wasn’t fixed and he had to reinstall the bridge again. Anyway, I guess, not everyone in the audience realized, what was happen.

Will Clark is playing a wonderful solo on Eastern Standard Time (the year before, he didn’t know the original solo of Don Drummond and got a lot of critics, but he was listing carefully to Don Drummond, this time, he really took the spirit carefully.) Brilliant.

The club gives us a great party, the second floor is locked, only for the DJ. That’s why the ground floor is full packed.

I have a lot of original vinyl records with me. I remember the double album from 1963 by Mongo Santamaria or the blank Jamaica 45 with Herb Spliffington on Rupie Edwards. And also a lot of CDs. But I don’t have my own equipment, that’s why I have to take, what is available at each club.

Laurel Aitken & The Skatalites at Salle John Lennon, Limoges 1996
Laurel Aitken & The Skatalites at Salle John Lennon, Limoges 1996

This picture was taken from my DJ stand.

Overview Limoges, Salle John Lennon

  • audience: 450 (capacity approx. 1000)
  • catering: very nice, with special salads
  • backstage: nice, but noisy from other bands, two rooms
  • diner: good
  • DJ-set: extra cabine on the balcony, two turn-tables plus mic, at the end, there is the house of rhythm dancing the dancefloor
  • HOR: successful, dynamic, a real good thing
  • Laurel Aitken: with more fun
  • Skatalites: Brevett’s string damage and not very compact
  • hotel: buffalo grill, very nice, relaxing a little before the show, Lester playing in the lobby, with birds!
  • room mate: Bill Smith (smoking too much)
  • driving the next day early in the morning, approx. 600 km

Website today: centres-culturels-limoges.fr

The Buffalo Grill still exists. You can find it here:

Come back tomorrow, when we’re arriving Barcelona.

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