|Mikey Dread selecting a track at Notting Hill Carnival, 2008. Source: Pyrere, Flickr|
A couple of weeks back I used this blog to float an idea I had for using reggae and dub music to bring people from different backgrounds together to build a better society. You can read the post here.
I am pleased to say I received a positive initial response to my idea, with colleagues and peers in the social innovation sector expressing interest in helping me to develop it, and friends and family engaging with the idea in a way that extended beyond the polite, ‘that’s nice, Francis’. This has given me the confidence to actively work on bringing my project to life.
I recognise that a key factor in the success of the project will be gaining the support of people with credibility in the London reggae and dub scenes. To this end, I set about pitching my project to two individuals I greatly respect: DJ David Katz and Don Letts.
Unless you’re into dub in a fairly major way, the name DJ David Katz may not mean much to you. Fans of the music, however, will know him, amongst other things, as the acclaimed biographer of Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, host of the Dub Me Always night at the Brixton Ritzy, and Guardian contributor. David wrote a great book called Solid Foundation, based on in-depth interviews with key figures in reggae. David’s strong relationships with many of the scene’s key players in London could play a key role in my project’s success.
The second name on my list, Don Letts, is probably more of a household name. You may have caught Don’s excellent Culture ClashRadio on BBC 6Music. Don has played a crucial role in bringing people from different backgrounds together through the love of music. Back in the day, Don is credited for introducing punks to the joys of reggae and dub, a move that helped foster Rock Against Racism, not to mention improving the danceability of a lot of rock music. He also played with Mick Jones in the 80s as Bad Audio Dynamite, a band which was pioneering in its fusion of musical styles. I would love him to advise on my project’s development.
Meatloaf once famously/infamously sang Two out of Three Ain’t Bad. While I can’t quite lay claim to this level of success from contacting David and Don, I’m pleased with the response I’ve received so far. David has been supportive about my plans and put me in touch with a person who has put on similar music-based project in the past. He has also offered to have a chat with me about the project at his next Dub Me Always night at the Brixton Ritzy on 12th October. I’ve not yet heard back from Don but I am hopeful I will receive a response from him shortly.
Now that I have established that there is interest in my project, the next step will be to work collaboratively to develop and refine my ideas for what the project should focus on. Right now, I am particularly interested in the possibility of bringing older reggae and dub pioneers together to share their first-hand experiences with younger fans of the music. As ever, I would any ideas you have for how reggae and dub music can bring people from different backgrounds together.
Project Development deserves a Soundtrack: Songs to keep a Dub Revolution Alive
Brent Dowe (produced by Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry) – Down Here in Babylon.
An inspiring song urging people to rise above the everyday struggles of life. Not sure I can sign up to the Rasta promised land but I can certainly relate to the social justice theme.
King Tubby – Dancing Version
A nice example of vocal dub. Nicely describes the experience of going to a King Tubby’s HiFi session in the 70s.
The Pioneers – Long Shot (Kick The Bucket)
Dub is great and all but sometimes it’s nice to mix things up and listen to an uplifting early reggae track. If this doesn’t put you in a good mood, nothing will.