October 20, 1996, Sunday, Montpellier (France)

france

5th day, Montpellier, France, Sunday, 20th of october 1996, Rockstore

montpellier-painted into my fotoalbum

The weather is perfect and we use the short stops at the gas station to play a little soccer. Shay plays very well. Funny to see Lloyd Brevett trying to dribble but he fails. Oh, and now Rolando Alphonso enter the scene and shoot the ball. Soccer is an important game on tour. There is no place to small to play.

Nathan Breedlove tells me about the Sunsplash festival in Jamaica, where they had to play as the first group of the day. The security didn’t wanted to let them through. Almost no people in the audience, they had to pay for drinks. They have been treated badder than bad. Nothing to sit on. A fiasco.

Will Clark tells me about the “Tibetian Freedom Concert” in the Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. The played on the same stage with Yoko Ono, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, The Fugees, Beastie Boys and some other giants from that time. In front of The Skatalites a 100.000 people. He tells me, that he thought, he’s dreaming, it couldn’t be true. Lauryn Hill of the Fugees isn’t very likable. Will is moaning about Nathans mood, to call for tunes, they haven’t played for a long time. I personally love that the most about The Skatalites. I have seen more than 70 shows of them, but not one was the same again. But I overstand Will well. It isn’t a easy job with the forefathers of Reggae.

We’re driving alongside the village called “Cadillac”. And now, this village is called “Condom”. The last kilometers we had a lot of fog. It is strange, because, when I look upwards, I can see the blue sky. But the blue van in front of us, is almost invisible behind the fog.

When we’re arriving Montpellier, the french booking manager welcomes us. It’s his home town. He explains us, that it was kind of difficult to book the right place for the best day. Saturday we’ve been in the small club in Bordeaux. Now it’s Sunday and we have to play in this theatre. This show will be recorded for the upcoming Skasplash tour CD.

The entrance to the venue is great. The house looks like an ancient theatre with a Cadillac inside the door.

Entrance to Rockstore with the Cadillac over the door and the blue van beside, Montpellier 1996
Entrance to Rockstore with the Cadillac over the door and the blue van beside, Montpellier 1996

My DJ-set is different as everything before and after. I enter an office, where I have a window with a view to the inside of the club. In the office, there is a mixing desk with two turn-tables in a professional style. The two Revox CD-players are 2 meters behind me. Maybe this is also a radio station, I’m not sure about that. However, I like this place. The technique is on a high level, but a bit difficult. And the audience is in far distance.

Bill Smith at sound check in Rockstore, Montpellier 1996
Bill Smith at sound check in Rockstore, Montpellier 1996

The day before, Gaz Mayall with The Trojans played this club. They stayed for another two days in town. Before the show, Gaz is all around. I know Gaz and The Trojans from different occasions. For example they played last year in Lucerne for me (rootsconnection.ch/1995-09-21). It was Gaz Mayall who brought me in 1986 to the second ska wave, when his record with Laurel Aitken, Floyd Lloyd & The Potato 5 hit my brain and made me ska-ill. Since then, the Ska fever is running through my veins.

Shay, Jeff Lucas, Gaz Mayall and Laurel Aitken behind the stage in Rockstore, Montpellier 1996
Shay, Jeff Lucas, Gaz Mayall and Laurel Aitken behind the stage in Rockstore, Montpellier 1996

In typical Gaz manner, he went on stage, with a long stick in his hands and introduced with brilliant words the first Skasplash show to Montpellier. Excellent.

Rolando Alphonso, Lester Sterling, Laurel Aitken & The Skatalites, live at Rockstore, Montpellier 1996
Rolando Alphonso, Lester Sterling, Laurel Aitken & The Skatalites, live at Rockstore, Montpellier 1996

Gaz runs on stage for a last time to cheer the audience for a last encore. After the last note from The Skatalites, the club is quickly almost empty. Only two noses are left to enjoy my selection (= c-lection). It’s a bit funny, but I have nothing else to do, but select some of the finest sounds, just for the two down there in the dancehall. And they are dancing like sick. OK it’s a bit frustrating to be DJ just for two. But who cares.

Diary painting on page 8, the two dancers on tables in the empty dancehall and the crazy stairs to the backstage at Rockstore, Montpellier 1996
Diary painting on page 8, the two dancers on tables in the empty dancehall and the crazy stairs to the backstage at Rockstore, Montpellier 1996

Tomorrow will be the first day-off of the tour. We stay at the same hotel for two nights.

Overview Montpellier, Rockstore

  • audience: apport. 350 (capacity approx. 1000)
  • catering: fruits, sweets and everything that is necessary, one of the best
  • backstage: in second floor, a truly criminal stair up to enter a great place
  • diner: no vegetarian food, no time for me
  • DJ-set: was in a kind of office/studio, professional equipment with 4 channel mix, two Revox cd-players (two meters away from the mixing desk!) and two Technics MK2 with automatic starter from the desk
  • Introduction by Gaz Mayall of The Trojans
  • HOR: like a jump into cold water, the venue is quite empty, the ambiance cool
  • Laurel Aitken: professional entertainer, his fans are everywhere
  • Skatalites: great show, but not one of their best
  • Recording for the Skasplash CD-release
  • hotel: breakfast was a joke
  • room mate: Will Clark (but he left with a friend)
  • no driving the next day, day off

We stayed two nights in the Hotel Eduard in Montpellier. It’s still there:

Website today: rockstore.fr

Come back tomorrow to enjoy the first day-off of the first Skasplash tour 1996…

2 thoughts on “October 20, 1996, Sunday, Montpellier (France)”

  1. I love Montpellier, my favorite small town, so much small time character. We did a little dinner and jam session with some friends in town. My girl Juliet is from there at the time. Don’t know what happened to her. Thanks Claude, Bill

    1. Hi Bill, oh yes, I love Montpellier as well. And year by year I go to the south of France to enjoy vacations with my family. It became a kind of second home…
      Juliet I remember well, but I have no idea, where she is… see that nice picture from Paris: Paris 1996 or that nice picture when she was in my hometown for a few days (Peacestreet).
      Take good good care and all the very best wishes always.
      C

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