From left) Danny Breakenridge, his daughter Ayesha and reggae singer Bob Andy—

MIAMI Vice and Don Johnson were the biggest game in South Florida (and the United States) when Danny Breakenridge moved there in 1985. However, for someone who had been involved in music since the late 1960s, he saw little action in terms of reggae.

“When I came here only three stations were playing reggae, two on Saturdays and one at night. Now, we have a 24-hour Caribbean station (WAVS 1170) and a number of other stations with reggae programming,” Breakenridge told the Jamaica Observer. “There are lots of other small venues that feature live reggae. That scene is vibrant,” he added.

Breakenridge is the head of Upstairs Records, an independent record company that has produced songs and albums by veteran artists including Bob Andy, Ken Boothe and Carl Dawkins. The label has also worked with several emerging acts.

South Florida is home to a number of reggae artists and companies like producer Willie Lindo’s Heavy Beat Records. Yet, Breakenridge says it is not easy to break artists from the region.

Ken Boothe

Ken Boothe

“Tarrus Riley, who grew up in South Florida, break from Jamaica. Inner Circle, who has been living in Miami from how long, broke in Europe before hitting it big in the US and around the world,” he pointed out. “I think the song is the main factor in breaking an artist although a lot of great artists get stifled.”

Now in his early 60s, Breakenridge grew up in the Central Kingston community of Allman Town. He grew up around singers such as Horace Andy and BB Seaton, leader of The Gaylads, whom he credits with teaching him the ropes of the music business.

In the 1970s, he moved into music production and songwriting. His most successful venture was Let’s Dub It Up, a 1975 song by singer Leo Hall, another Allman Town native.

Produced by Breakinridge

Produced and arranged by Breakenridge

Co-written by Breakenridge and co-produced by Bob Andy and Geoffrey Chung, Let’s Dub it Up was a minor hit in Jamaica. The song was covered five years later by British singer D Sharp and topped the Black Echo chart in the United Kingdom.

The Upstairs Music catalogue is dominated by albums from Bob Andy, Boothe, Dawkins and former Sensations singer Jackie Parris. He says working with acts from the 1960s and 1970s fits in with the demand for ‘vintage’ acts who are popular with South Florida’s Jamaican retirement community.

“There is an active oldies community here but they don’t get as much in live performances. But among vinyl collectors and Internet radio stations like, there is a growing demand for vintage music,” Breakenridge said.

Upstairs Music has two albums scheduled for release in December and January. They are From The Roots, by vocal duo 2 Of A Kind, and When I Fall In Love, a compilation which has songs by several artists including Ken Boothe and Hopeton Lindo.


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