Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Jamaican Mento Song - Come We Go Down To Linstead Market (Solas Market)

Edited by Azizi Powell

This post showcases the Jamaican folk song "Linstead Market". Versions of this song are also known as "Solas Market". This post also includes information about Jamaican "Mentos", the correct name for Jamaican folk music.

The content of this post is presented for folkloric, cultural, entertainment, and aesthetic purposes.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Mento is a vibrant and significant genre of music. It has a very long history and is still performed today. Mento was crucial in the formation of ska and reggae, yet, for the world-wide masses of ska and reggae fans, mento is largely unheard and unknown.
That multi-page website features reviews of many Mento songs. That website also includes this page: what mento isn't
Here's the first sentences on that page:
"Well, first off, as covered on the "What is Mento?" page, mento isn't calypso, even though it's often referred as calypso.

If you search the web on mento, you'll find a lot of misleading hits. It was results like these that made me realize that I needed to create this web site."

"Mento is a style of Jamaican folk music that predates and has greatly influenced ska and reggae music. Mento typically features acoustic instruments, such as acoustic guitar, banjo, hand drums, and the rhumba box — a large mbira in the shape of a box that can be sat on while played. The rhumba box carries the bass part of the music.

Mento is often confused with calypso, a musical form from Trinidad and Tobago. Although the two share many similarities, they are separate and distinct musical forms. During the mid-20th century, mento was conflated with calypso, and mento was frequently referred to as calypso, kalypso and mento calypso;[2] mento singers frequently used calypso songs and techniques. As in Calypso, Mento uses topical lyrics with a humorous slant, commenting on poverty and other social issues.[2] Sexual innuendos are also common."...

"Linstead Market is a Jamaican folk song. Possibly the earliest publication of the tune with words occurs in Walter Jekyll's 1907 book, Jamaican Song and Story, as item 121, pages 219-220. In Jekyll, the lyrics are as follows:[verification needed]
Carry me akee go a linstead market
not a quatee wud sell
cary me akee go a linstrad market
not a quatee wud sell
oh lawd! wat a night!
wat a night!
what a saturday night! etc...

In Helen H. Roberts' collection of folk song variants based on field work in Jamaica, published in 1925, the version in Jekyll is reproduced, followed by twelve variants. In some of these, "Sollas market" replaces "Linstead market". (Sollas market became Jubilee Market, located on West Queen Street in Kingston.)

For example, Roberts includes a version as sung in Christiana:

Sold me akee, go to Sollas market.
Not a quatty would sell.
Sold me akee, go to Sollas market.
Not a quatty would sell.
So whole o' Saturday night,
so not a light, not a bite.
So not a quatty would sell.

In 1975, Oxford University Press published "Linstead Market" in Olive Lewin's collection of Jamaican folk-songs, with these words:

Carry me ackee go a Linstead market,
Not a quatty wut sell,
Carry me ackee go a Linstead market,
Not a quatty wut sell.
Lawd wat a night, not a bite,
Wat a Satiday night.
Lawd wat a night, not a bite,
Wat a Satiday night.

On page 14, Dr. Lewin explains that "Linstead Market still remains a picturesque small town market. The song is now often taken at a much faster pace for dancing but was originally sung slow and plaintively by a mother who couldn't sell enough at the market to feed her children. A quatty was a small copper coin of very small value."

In all the versions mentioned above except the earliest, the melody is written in 2/4 or 4/4 time, but in Jekyll, the time signature is 6/8."...

Editor: Here's an excerpt of a April 29, 2003 news article about a fire at Jamaica's "Jubilee Market":
..."HUNDREDS OF vendors lost goods valued at millions of dollars in a fire Sunday night which razed the Victoria Jubilee Market, West Parade and West Queen Street, downtown Kingston.

The vendors, who are now turning to the Kingston and St. Andrew Corporation (KSAC) for help, say the fire, which was caused by an electrical short circuit, could have been prevented if the KSAC had properly maintained the market which is more than 100 years old.

According to the handbook, A-Z of Jamaican Heritage, by Olive Senior, the Jubilee Market occupied the site of the old Solas Market which is celebrated in the Jamaican folk song Come We Go Down A Solas Market. It is one of the oldest market sites in the city as vendors used to gather in the open space there from the 18th century.

To commemorate the Golden Jubilee (50th anniversary) of the reign of England's Queen Victoria (who ruled from 1837 to 1901), the market was built on the site of the old Solas Market in 1887. Its gates opened onto Orange and West Queen Street and Luke Lane."...

ackee -
"Ackee is the national fruit of Jamaica and is borne in clusters on an evergreen tree. Its name is derived from the West African Akye fufo. The tree is not endemic to the West Indies but was introduced from West Africa during the 18th century...

The fruit turns red on reaching maturity and splits open with continued exposure to the sun. Traditionally it is at this time that the ackees are harvested and the edible portion (the arilli) removed and cleaned in preparation for cooking. This delicacy is enjoyed by many at breakfast or as an entree. The canned product is exported to ethnic markets worldwide and continues to be enjoyed by both visitors to the island and Jamaicans residing overseas."

quatty -
From Wikipedia article on Linstead Market:
"quatty" = a small copper coin of very small value."

(These examples are presented in no particular order.)

Example #1: Linstead Market [10 inch] - Louise Bennett acc. by the Caribbean Serenaders

TheRealDJGIBS·Published on May 20, 2012

Digital archive of Melodisc 78RPM single 1139;
Linstead Market by Louise Bennett acc. by the Caribbean Serenaders featuring Leslie Hutchinson on trumpet
℗1951 Melodisc Records Ltd.

Style: Jamaican Mento
Composer: Jamaican Folk Song
Label: Melodisc
Matrix No.: MEL 28


yourjamaica, Uploaded on May 26, 2009

Jamaican original folk music from the jolly Boys, Mento 'Linstead market'

Example #3: Lord Messam & his calypsonians - Linstead market

Brancaleone31, Published on Jun 14, 2012

Album : Mento madness Motta's Jamaican Mento(1951-56)

Example #4: The Spinners - Linstead Market Live (with lyrics)

johnatkin69Uploaded on Jun 7, 2010

Linstead is a Jamaican Town with a renowned market place. This song tells the touching story of a market seller lamenting her poor sales and fretting about the disppointment of her expectant children ("pickney") awaiting her return home.
Here's a comment from that a commenter that was written in respond to another commenter writing that this version of "Linstead Market" doesn't have a Jamaican flavor:

"Cliff Hall was the man singing this song. He was a black man who grew up in Jamaica. Not "reallly Jamaican" enough?"

Example #5: Boysie Grant & Eddie Brown & Reynolds' Calypso Clippers - Solas Market

Fabián Vega, Uploaded on Nov 27, 2011

Example #6: Audley Williams and Combo - Solas market - Wirl

latin45s, Uploaded on Sep 26, 2011

Example #7: Jamaica Folk Revue Live Performance at the 2010 Anancy Festival - Solas Market

Jamaica,Uploaded on Jun 2, 2011

Jamaica Folk Revue Live Performance of "Solas Market" at the 2010 Anancy Festival. Anancy (Ananse or Anansi) is the West African trickster hero of numerous folk tales that are popular across the Caribbean and throughout the African Diaspora. This clever and conniving character is familiar to millions of people around the world. Anancy Festival is a celebration of the Caribbean's diverse and spectacular cultural heritage, both traditional and contemporary, and is designed to have special appeal to the young and young at heart. Children and parents will have the opportunity to learn about Caribbean culture, including folklore, history, music, dance and art.

My thanks to the unknown composers of "Linstead Market" ("Solas Market") and the folklorists who collected those songs.

Thanks also to the featured artists for their musical legacy. My thanks also to the publishers of these videos on YouTube and thanks to all those who are quoted in this post.

Thanks for visiting pancocojams.

Visitor comments are welcome.


  1. Quatty defintion was just updated on Wiki.
    Note: A quatty(or quattie) was actually one and one-half penny(halfpenny). During that time it was standard to sell goods in quatty(s) worth, which was 1.5 penny in value. If an item increased in value, then the quantity you received for a quatty would decrease. The quattie was not a minted coin. Three halfpenny(ha'penny) or six farthing would be the equivalent of one quatty.

    1. Thanks for sharing that information, Anonymous March 23, 2019.