THE HISTORY OF THE RHYTH-0-MATICS
The RHYTH-O-MATICS’ first gig was in 1984 to play benefits for the U.S.Presidential campaign of Jesse Jackson, who, at that time was about the only American politician who was interested in South Africa and committed to bringing the situation there to the attention of the American public. The response to the RHYTH-0-MATICS,(at the time a predominantly white group) in the S.F. Black community was overwhelming and we knew that the time was right for African-influenced "World Beat" music in San Francisco and the Bay Area. Andrew Scott, the original drummer for the band had been in an African influenced band called The Ivory Coasters in England, Dave Somers had played in a calypso band called Cool Breeze, Rudy Ortiz had played with Batucajé, a Latin Band and Jimmy Foot had a band, Reggae Jackson that played a blend of reggae and South American rhythms. Ernest Boykin had played with Torch, a singer into dance music.
We were all interested in the Two-Tone Ska sound from England as well as instrumental music from South Africa, and west Africa. We recorded our first album "Walking In The Shadow" for Catero records (out-of print, but some copies are available from BONGO BOY RECORDS) which was an even mix of those styles and included three originals and covers from some of our favorite artists: Orchestra Makassey, the Skatalites, Dudu Pukwana, and Orchestre Lipua Lipua. The LP was produced by BOB JOHNSTON, world renown for his albums for DYLAN, JOHNNY CASH, and JIMMY CLIFF to name a few.
"Walking In the Shadow" was released in 1985 and received rave reviews from SPIN magazine, BILLBOARD, the BEAT as well as numerous local magazines and newspapers. Despite critical acclaim, the record company was going under while the band was touring we'd travel hundreds of miles to play gigs to support a record that nobody could find in the stores. The record was sent to hundreds of DJs though, and has received a good deal of airplay. Cheap imitations of the "Walking In the Shadow" LP were pirated and distributed who knows where, but, all in all, the original pressings (pressed by Teledyne of West Germany) only sold a few thousand copies for the band and was held up and off the market. It was a frustrating time, as Catero Records went from distributor and losing more money with each one. In the end, Catero Records folded. The band was going through a transitional phase, and underwent some changes. Dave Somers left the band and Andrew Scott left the band and was replaced by Jim Sagebiel. Clark Gayton played with the band for a while, sitting in for Wayne Wallace on trombone.
The RHYTH-0-MATICS released a 12" , red vinyl single in 1988 on BONGO BOY RECORDS of "Skatalation", a modern Ska "smoker" and "Trickster", an Afro-Brasilian, Fela-ish song about the tricksters found in the folklore of Africa and South America. Jimmy Foot brought in Mic Gillette (Tower of Power) and sax player Bill Slais (who co-wrote “Fooled Around And Fell In Love” for the Elvin Bishop Band). “Skatalation” received regular airplay on LIVE 105, one of the Bay Area’s hottest stations. It was also a commercial success for the band.
("Skatalation" also appears on the "SKAVILLE U S A" and the "SKA FACE" compilation LP (same record, different cover) with the TOASTERS of New York, BIMSKALABIM of Boston and nine other bands, but that version had some kind of technical problem and doesn't sound anywhere near as good as the single.)
The RHYTH-0-MATICS played a number of great shows in the S.F. Bay Area, including shows with MADNESS at the FILLMORE on their last tour, and shows with FISHBONE, JIMMY CLIFF ' MICKEY HART & OLATUNJI, TITO PUENTE, ZULU SPEAR and other "World Beat" artists. They also opened for ETTA JAMES, DAVID LINDLEY, and substituted for the SKATALITES when their plane was delayed.
The RHYTH-0-MATICS disbanded officially in 1990 after the tragic death of bassist Ernest Boykin and the previous retirement of lead singer/percussionist Rudy Ortiz. The RHYTH-0-MATICS had just laid down tracks for a new album which appear on Jimmy Foot's "Rhythm Addict" CD.
Bandleader/producer/guitarist Jimmy Foot went on to play with HEDZOLEH SOUNDZ from Ghana, blues guitarist Harvey Mandel, Brasilian group Escola Nova de Samba, OSHA with JONI HAASTRUP, and others. Jimmy Foot also produced, with wife/partner Susie Foot, albums for San Diego world beat surfers BORRACHO Y LOCO and Humboldt County reggae legends ROD DEAL & The I-DEALS, and Tea leaf Green's debut album.
Jimmy has gone on to perform with Reggae artist Jah Sun, Djialy Kunda Kouyate, and is currently co-producing an album for artist Chris Nance with Dylan/cash producer Bob Johnston