The spot for Rasta

Rasta Willie Caldwell (left) plays the bongo drums next to his wife Judy Siliven inside Rasta House, the new Jamaican and African shop the couple recently opened in Manette.  - Photo by Kassie Korich
Rasta Willie Caldwell (left) plays the bongo drums next to his wife Judy Siliven inside Rasta House, the new Jamaican and African shop the couple recently opened in Manette.
— image credit: Photo by Kassie Korich

Rasta Willie Caldwell, dressed in the traditional clothing of his Jamaican homeland, sits back and relaxes as his music fills the air at the new Rasta House in Manette.

Known to everyone as simply Rasta Willie, he and his wife Judy Siliven, recently opened a unique and one-of-a-kind storefront on 11th Street and Perry Avenue, featuring music, clothing and more from Jamaica and Africa.

“It’s all really interesting, my problem is I want to keep it,” Siliven said with a laugh.

The store is full of colorful Jamaican and African products including hats, jewelry, beauty supplies and dolls.

They also sell mud cloth which is made of cotton, tea and mud, according to Siliven.

“It’s one-of-a-kind, you can’t find it in the U.S.,” she said.

She explained how each of the cloths are embellished with various cultural meanings.

“You can take the fabric and make whatever you want,” she said. “You can’t find this in fabric stores.”

The walls are lined with clothing for men and women and are one size fits all, making for an easy find.

“The clothing is beautiful,” Siliven said.

And of course, it wouldn’t be a Rasta House without the music.

The store sells African and reggae music as well as the music of Rasta Willie.

“It’s a mix of Jamaican, reggae and rhythm and blues,” he said of his latest CD for sale at Rasta House.

Born in Jamaica, Rasta Willie says music has always been a part of him.

“It was always my major thing as a child,” he said. “All I wanted to do was sing and develop into the music world.”

He was 12 when his parents sent him and his four brothers to New York to live with their uncle to get a better education. It was there that he really started to get into performing.

“I learned a lot from my uncle,” Rasta Willie said. “He got us into the Apollo Theater ... (Music) has always been my major goal. My uncle made it possible.”

Rasta Willie went on to study at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn before joining the Navy for four years as a gunner’s mate. It was then he received his U.S. citizenship.

He continues to work with the Department of Defense as a merchant mariner.

He and Siliven have made a couple of trips back to Jamaica since they met in 2002.

“I plan to retire there someday,” he said with a smile.

Siliven was born and raised in Bremerton and is a welder by trade. She worked at Todd Shipyard in Seattle for 32 years and also ran a daycare in Bremerton.

To celebrate the opening of Rasta House, the couple is planning a grand opening celebration at 2 p.m. tomorrow at their shop. The community is encouraged to attend the event which will feature a live jam session.

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