He is affectionately known as 'Everywhere Man', for wherever reggae is played in Oxford, or in the villages and towns of the county, you will often see the name Garvin Dan on the publicity posters and flyers. It is he, alongside Nico Fuller and Hugo Makepeace, who runs the monthly reggae sessions. They are like the Three Kings: bearing gifts of ska, rocksteady and roots. On the first Sunday of each month, you can follow the Red, Gold and Green Star, to where it stops above Tap Social, and step in and receive a blessing.
I use the word blessing, because not only is sweet music played there, but it is free to listen to it and the setting is intergenerational: the children run and jump around, while the parents and other adults dance. As well as the joy, there is the learning, for every session is part of the ongoing journey through the history of Jamaican music, alongside spotlights on contemporary, international figures. For example, there is a small group of original skinheads who step in early, because they know they're going to hear some Duke Reid.
Alongside the wide range of music – from ska to dub – there is a wide range of guest selectors. As well as those from well-known sound systems, such as Sir Sambo Sound and Count Skylarkin', Reggae On Tap has given us the debut session of Truth and Rights, founded by Daz Broscomb, and one of the first appearances by Gaia, based in Banbury and co-founded by Gerrie Smee and Jason Wilson. One of the highlights from the summer was the appearance of Mighty Oak, from Scotland, featuring Ben Young and crew.
And where there are people all day (3-10pm), there must be food! Each session brings a different culinary pleasure, such as Ethiopian, Trinidadian (by Prince aka Calypso Chef), vegan and the food of legendary Oxford caterer, Pippa Hamwee aka Little General. Another regular feature is the stall run by Lorraine Jackson, which sells cultural items and vintage clothing.
As you step into the venue, you are embraced by the colours – compliments of Garvin Dan – of the red, gold and green of African and Caribbean flags which adorn the walls. With the recorded music and the live percussion of jembe and bongos, you enjoy the embrace and return it: feeling a wish to make your contribution to the goodness that emanates. One of the hangings, one of the largest, shows the face of Bob Marley, and underneath are the words 'One Love.' With the vibe that they generate, this is what the Three Kings do: they use the beauty of the music to embrace us in an aura of love.