ABOUT  REGGAE  ST  LOUIS

 
 

   My name is Michael Kuelker, and with the information & good cheer I get from reggae people in St. Louis, I run REGGAESTLOUIS.NET.

   I live in the city of St. Louis and teach English composition and literature at St. Charles Community College.  Want more 411?  Since 1997, I have co-hosted Positive Vibrations (alternating with Professor Skank) on KDHX 88.1 FM in St. Louis.  Check it  9-11 p.m. every Saturday night.  My programming is heavy on roots reggae but I also pour in dub and dancehall with occasional  shots of rocksteady, ska or nyahbinghi.  No chatter, just a lotta platter.

   My journeys in and readings of Jamaica have led me to teach many things-Jamaican, from The Harder They Come and Life and Debt to Ethiopian-oriented reggae music and Caribbean works of literature.  The years 1997-2004 were formative, for that’s when I edited Book of Memory: A Rastafari Testimony [CaribSound 2005], the spiritual autobiography of Jamaican Rasta elder Prince Elijah WIlliams.  Book of Memory is not only Prince’s personal story, with roots in rural culture and African-Christian forms of worship, but a “testimony” of Rastafari spiritual life.  Because I wanted the book to ooze Jamaican vibes, I circulated through the country with Prince -- to Kingston, to the hills and valleys of Trelawny parish (where Prince lived for many years as he labored at a sugar plantation), to commemorations of the pogrom known as the Coral Gardens Incident of 1963. 

   To gather and edit Book of Memory, I drew upon training in oral history from Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation, for whom I conducted video interviews of Holocaust survivors in St. Louis and southern Illinois between 1994-97.  It is work I continue through volunteer service at the St. Louis Holocaust Museum & Learning Center, and it served me in putting together the manuscript.  Doing this book affected how I trod in Jamaica -- and everywhere else for that matter -- as I confronted Prince’s vision for conscious living. 

   Book of Memory earned very fine reviews in the Caribbean Review of Books, Zinc Fence, MOJO magazine (4-star review), New Internationalist, RIDDIM and Anthurium.  Unfortunately, the book is out of print.  Slowly, I am readying a digital edition with more photos, expanded glossary and additional content.













 

Above: Prince Williams at his home in the hills of Westmoreland in 2007 and (back to camera) at Umojafest held at Shades of Africa in Miami, FL in 2005. 

Below: Prince (second from right) and I personally went throughout Jamaica to get Book of Memory distributed.  Here we are with Falmouth Bookshop personnel and my main man for chartered transport in JA,  Michael Ewart (right).

A  KUELKER  SAMPLER

also see the ARTICLES page as well as “Justin Hinds @ 70,” my interview with Cedella Marley, the fanciful essay “Marley/Volare” + other pieces at the KDHX blog,


Wingless Angels: The Podcasts  [audio documentary for Keith Richards’ solo label Mindless Records]


Bunny Wailer: ‘Silence Means Consent’            

Scripted by Michael Kuelker, this 15-minute documentary in two parts was done on behalf of  Amnesty International USA’s 2008 campaign on gun violence and human rights in Jamaica. It contained a new interview with Bunny Wailer conducted by the Amnesty International team, including Michael Kuelker, in a research trip in Kingston in October 2007.  Produced in conjunction with Shaun McCanna of Flamingo Productions in St. Charles, MO.


“Anansi Doesn’t Knock Anymore” [poem published in 20th anniversary edition of The Caribbean Writer]


“IRON BALLOONS in Review” [fiction review @ ConsciousParty.com]


“Queen Ifrica: Peace in Deed in Kingston” [article about music and progressive works through Committee for Community in Kingston, JA]


“Halfway to the Caribbean:  My Trod to Little Havana, Little Haiti and the Best of the Best Festival - 2008”   [a few leaves from a road trip journal]


“'... And War is What They Got': The Conflation of 9/11 and Iraq in George W. Bush’s Campaigns for War and Reelection” [2008] [political essay]

Prince Williams and family (above) in 1972 in Salt Marsh, Jamaica; photo (c) by Steven Stone. Below, Prince and me at Rose Hall in 1999.

   You’re still reading?  Here’s what else:

   I have presented papers on Jamaican topics at two academic conferences -- unveiling new research on the Coral Gardens Incident of 1963 at the XXIII West Indian Literature conference at the University of Miami (2003) and offering a thumpin’ essay on reggae bus songs (“The Many Functions of the Bus in Jamaican Music: The Reggae Aesthetic in Motion”) at the International Reggae Conference in Kingston, Jamaica in 2010.

   Between 2010-12, I scripted, narrated and produced Wingless Angels: The Podcasts, an audio documentary on the nyahbinghi group comprised of Steer Town, Jamaica Rastafarians + Keith Richards.  I had been profoundly moved by Wingless Angels’ debut album in the 1990s -- it was spiritual food that I consumed with my coffee every morning for a long while -- and I was delighted to be invited to broadcast the world debut of a brand new Wingless Angels song, “Oh What a Joy,” in May 2010 and then to be asked to produce podcasts on the group.  You can hear the episodes free of charge at WINGLESSANGELS.com and iTunes.  Thank you, Larry Peryer.

   My music writing has appeared in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, The Beat magazine, JahWorks.org, Peace Review, Tattoo magazine and African American Review

   I have penned liner notes on albums by Murder City Players and St. Louis blues artists Arthur Williams, Rondo’s Blues Deluxe, Marquise Knox, Benny Smith and Tommy Bankhead.