This Rochester band is celebrating its 50th anniversary of performing original roots music plus distinct versions of classic reggae songs.
The three original members — Ron Stackman, Jim Schwarz, and Lou LaVilla — began performing together in 1972. The first band was named Bahama Mama, and the three founders have been performing under the name the Majestics since 1980. Originally a trio, they developed a fanbase in upstate New York — with Stackman on Hammond B-2, clavinet, and guitar, and Jim on bass and Lou on drums.
They backed Lee “Scratch” Perry on a string of dates opening for The Clash in New York City, as well as recordings with Perry in Jamaica. In the mid 1980s, the Majestics added two members to round out their sound — Rudy Valentino on guitar and the late Brother Fitzroy James from Trinidad on percussion.
Throughout the 1980s the Majestics toured throughout the Northeast opening for the most popular reggae acts in history, including Burning Spear, Peter Tosh, Third World, Gregory Issacs, Jimmy Cliff, Toots and the Maytals, The Wailers, and Ziggy Marley. The Majestics also recorded an EP titled “Future Now,” which hints at the fact that, as some have said, the band’s clever mix of rock and reggae was ahead of its time.
Today the Majestics are actively playing the Rochester music scene, the original trio is joined by Kevin Hart on guitar and Vince Ercolamento on saxophones.