This will be the first film to document the story and music of Jab Jab, the acclaimed 1970s band from Huddersfield who broke boundaries with their previously unheard fusion of rock, reggae, calypso, punk, soca music and Afro beats. By the mid-late 70s, they were one of the most in-demand British live bands, playing 200 gigs a year to critical acclaim across the UK and Europe with bands including The Jam, Chic, Dire Straights, Heatwave and The Clash. Despite their high profile and success on the live circuit, they remained unsigned, resulting in their music being unavailable outside of concerts. Until now...
Inspired by the discovery of old recordings after 35 years which are to be released as an album this year, this film documents the story, music and reformation of Jab Jab. Taking the viewer on a colourful musical journey with laughter and tears, diverse characters, compelling storytelling and energetic music; the film will intertwine Jab Jab’s story, past and present, gathering pace throughout and climaxing with their reunion concert.
It charts the Augustine brothers’ journey from the Caribbean island of Carriacou to the mills of the UK, their early days as the backing band for Trojan Record artists, and musical influences from their distant African roots to the rock, funk and punk scene of the day, the Huddersfield music scene and political landscape. Central to the film is the finding of the tapes - their restoration, the band's reactions to hearing them and rehearsals for the reunion gig and the live concert.The film aims to help reach Jab Jab's fans from the 70s and 80s and find new ones by telling their story. www.jabjab.co
Band & film crew after the first week of rehearsals at Vibrations Studio, Huddersfield. L-R front row: Amanda Whittington - director, Skinhead Dick - drummer, Joe Augustine - vocals & guitar, Mike Whittington - bass. L-R back row: Rory Smith - sound recordist, Rob Whittington - Hammond organ (Rombozo de Jab), Charlie Augustine - guitar & vocals, Matt Joiner - DOP. Photography - Paul Whiteley.
We are professional documentary filmmakers specialising in music and the arts. Our experience includes the BBC, Twofour, Media Trust, Community Channel, MTV and EMI. We believe Jab Jab’s little-known story needs to be heard and are calling on you to help. We hope that you too can see its potential and will support us to help us create a high quality, heartfelt and original one hour music documentary film. You won’t be disappointed.
Filming has started and includes the restoration of the tapes, the bands reactions to hearing the music for the first time, interviews and the first rehearsals. We are shooting using the C300 and 60D and will be posting more video clips soon. See here for short video clip from Jab Jab's first rehearsals: Keep On Smiling
A short version of Jab Jab the film (max duration 13 mins) has been commissioned and funded by Phoenix Exeter and Colourburn and will be screened at Exeter Phoenix's Two Short Nights Film Festival 2015. We are seeking more funding as this story is big and needs a longer format to do it justice. The money from our campaign will be used to make an hour long film for broadcast and beyond.
Jab Jab the film has received initial funding of £750 from Exeter Phoenix's Two Short Nights Documentary Commission in association with the production company, Colourburn. We are in discussion with other backers including Screen Yorkshire, the BFI and the Arts Council. In order to make the film to the highest possible standard, we hope to raise a minimum of £12,000 from this campaign. This will help cover crew costs, kit hire, multi-camera shoot for the concert, archive, travel, locations, editing, grading, dubbing and critic and celebrity interviews. It will also help towards creating a live show film from the reunion gig, with a multicamera setup and director's gallery.
About Jab Jab
Jab Jab were one of the first British rock reggae bands, playing around 200 gigs a year throughout the UK and Europe during the 70s. Their music was raw and energetic, breaking boundaries with a previously unheard fusion of rock, reggae, calypso, punk, soca music and Afro beats.
Jab Jab formed in 1970 in Huddersfield, Yorkshire where there was a thriving music scene. Brothers, Charlie and Joe Augustine who had emigrated from the West Indian island of Carriacou, started the band. Charlie had been a founding member of The Hightimers, the five-piece funk and soul band with Root and Jenny Jackson, which later became Jab Jab. Their musical influences reflect Carriacou’s rich cultural roots, combined with fresh ideas formed in the British music scene at that time. One of the first bands to fuse many world influences, Jab Jab helped pave the way for many bands that came later.
They were soon playing original material full time professionally, as well as backing most of the British recording Trojan Records artists of that time. By the mid-late 70s, Jab Jab were in continual demand for the main concert venues of the era including the Music Machine (now Koko), Marquee, Hope and Anchor, Rock Garden, Lyceum, and the Hammersmith Odeon (now Apollo). They performed with many famous bands to critical acclaim including Chic, The Jam, Dire Straits, Steel Pulse, Toya Wilcox, Heatwave, The Boomtown Rats and The Clash. They were so popular at one point that their agent formed a doppelganger band so that they could be double booked. Extensive tours of Holland (where they were a 'household name') also saw them playing at the Melkweg and on Dutch radio.
Jab Jab featured on TV and radio including Peter Cook’s Revolver and TOTP (backing Dave and Ansell Collins). They had a large following and at one time were cited as the UK's highest paid non-recording band. They were particularly known for their high energy and feel good vibe. They received rave reviews in the music press including NME, Sounds Magazine, Record Mirror, Melody Maker and Time Out. Fans included notable musicians such as Paul Weller who personally requested Jab Jab for his party gigs. Their philosophy was to ‘make the bad times good and the good times better’.
Despite their high profile and success on the live circuit, they remained unsigned, resulting in their music being unavailable outside of concerts. The music press were positive that Jab Jab were going to be a big name, but despite much A&R and major record company interest, no recording deal materialised. A large amount of speculation over the years has put this down to mismanagement, but the real reason is yet to be known. Record producers said they were unsure of where to fit Jab Jab’s unique style of cross genres into the categories of the day, but in 1978, Mickie Most said he ‘would have loved to produce them’ had he not retired.
In the 70s without a record deal, there was no outlet for sharing music outside live performances. Fans could not access their music. Had the technology been available and affordable for making CDs, with the web and social media, there is no doubt many people would have their music in their collections today. This venture aims to reach out to fans both old and new. That’s why we want to make this film about their story, the music finally becoming available, the unearthed recordings, and the concert so it is documented and shared.
The band nearly reformed in 1998 when Ollie Smith, founder of the Town and Country Club, was staying at Lancrigg and discovered Rob's musical past. He leapt up out of his seat in the restaurant and said, "Jab Jab! Britain's first black band! Anytime you want to play let me know..." Due to life commitments, the band could not see this through to its conclusion at the time.
The original Jab Jab line-up in 1970 was Charlie Augustine on lead guitar and vocals, Joe Augustine on vocals, percussion and bass, ‘Fingers’ on bass and percussion, John Phillips on keyboards and Roy ‘Crunch’ Silvester on drums. Later members included ‘Skinhead Dick’ Augustine – Drums 1971-1979, Rob ‘Rombozo de Jab’ Whittington – Hammond Organ and Strings 1975-1980.
Today - Joe plays rhythm guitar in a Huddersfield reggae band despite living with prostate cancer, Skinhead Dick is a soca radio DJ and HGV driver, Rob is an hotelier in the Lake District and plays the cello in an orchestra, Charlie is retired and plays guitar. Now, after 35 years, Jab Jab are reforming…
Jab Jab's first reunion rehearsals at Vibration Studios. Photo by Paul Whiteley, 1st May 2015.
About the production team
Amanda Whittington - Director Producer, Editor & Project Founder
I'm a producer director specialising in music, the arts and charity filmmaking. I love what I do and have had some great experiences along the way! I've worked on documentaries, films, promos, music videos and art visuals. My experience spans the BBC, Media Trust, Twofour and working for independent production companies and clients including MTV, Natural England, The British Art Show and Audi. Graduating from Camberwell College of Art and Design, I went on to train at BBC’s DVSolutions followed by working in production for the BBC2 Culture Show programme - assisting the team, filming for the programme and researching dance content. I've worked with large teams, crews, celebrities and actors, and also independently as a self-shooter and editor and so have a wide range of experience in all aspects of production. Career highlights include series producing Media Trust’s Untold Stories for the Community Channel, associate producing EMI’s Burlesque Undressed feature film for worldwide cinema release, in addition to producing the live show filming, managing the film budget, sourcing all archive and directing interviews in Las Vegas.
I am passionate about telling Jab Jab's story and truly believe their music needs to be heard. My experience in documentary making, music and the arts has all led to this project. There is a personal element too, being Rob, the Hammond organist's daughter. I grew up in awe of his music and stories. We had an old recording of Jab Jab on cassette that we danced around the living room to, but dad didn't play it often as it brought back too many memories. The closest I got to seeing, or rather 'hearing', them play was when my mum was pregnant! To finally hear the lost recordings after all these years, see all the band in one room together, film them rehearsing (we couldn't believe some of them are in their 70s - they slotted straight back into Jab Jab and the energy was bouncing off the walls!), and research their fascinating story has turned into a dream project and a labour of love - each day I'm learning more about this remarkable band which, due to consequences out of their hands, has been hidden away in the vaults for too long. Like many bands, Jab Jab's story is bittersweet, but what is remarkable is their unique fusion of music genres which still stands out today, just how close they were to making it really big, the discovery of their music after 35 years and the opportunity for one last shot!
From working in the industry, I have gained positive interest about Jab Jab the film from production companies with the aim of creating a one hour version for broadcast and possible feature for cinema. The short film will be screened at Exeter Phoenix's Two Short Nights film festival and will also be shown to broadcasters and distributors in order to gain more support and backing. I'm well connected in the media industry and a press campaign is about to launch regionally and nationally about the film project and the search for Jab Jab's lost fans and release of their music.
We hope that you too can see the potential of this story and will support the project to help us create a high quality, heartfelt and original one hour music documentary film. You won't be disappointed. Thank you for your support. www.vimeo.com/amandarwhittington - please get in touch to see full password protected portfolio.
Matt Joiner - Producer & DOP
BBC trained director of photography and cameraman with a wealth of experience in shooting music documentaries and videos including BBC Classical Music shows, The Birth of British Music, Sacred Music, The Great British Song Book, as well as live events at Maida Vale studios and across the country. Matt has a wealth of knowledge and passion in capturing the essence of live music on film. Capable, talented and passionate about music, Matt is working with Amanda on all aspects of the project to get it off the ground!
Jonas Hawkins - Executive Producer of Jab Jab short film, Phoenix Digital
Jonas has been managing digital media projects since 2001. His experience includes strategic development, programming and fund raising. He has commissioned over 80 artists through a number of major schemes funded by Arts Council England, NESTA, Technology Strategy Board, Into Film, the BFI and the Heritage Lottery Fund.
Ali Pym - Executive Producer of Jab Jab short film, Phoenix Digital
Ali Pym's previous Producer credits include 'Untitled Dsytopia'. A Pre-Apocalyptic comedy about an Artist and her friend at the end of the world...
Damo Cross - Executive Producer of Jab Jab short film, Colourburn
Thank you for reading and we hope you can work with us to create a great film!