It's always good to return to an old haunt of joyful memories - and so it was on Saturday night, with the return of roots reggae to East Oxford Community Centre, for the first session of the Oxford Dub Club. So good to walk into a hall that is full of people dancing; rocking to the music from the blueprint given by King Tubby, in the early seventies. We, the blest, were given a selection of new and recent recordings, as well as some contemporary versions of classics. For those who needed the session as remedy, there was music to sail away on; for those whose first intention was to dance, the evidence was there before me, that they got what they wished for.
We remember Augustus Pablo.
The two founding figures of this new regular channel to roots reggae music are Dan-I Cameron and Daz Broscomb. The former, co-founder with Chris aka Spanners of Field Frequency sound system, is a long-time stalwart of roots reggae: he is also the editor of The Dub magazine and its supplement, the Dub Diary. Daz Broscomb is a more recent champion of this music, quickly establishing a reputation with his Truth and Rights sound system, which made its first appearance last year. It was these two systems that played at the inaugural event.
We remember Mikey Dread.
One of the endearing features of the night was the support and camaraderie amongst the roots reggae fraternity, or ''family.'' Garvin Dan aka the Everywhere Man, of Reggae On Tap and Natty Hi Fi, played alongside Daz, as did the other Truth and Rights guest, Daniel Norland aka Jah Sticks, drummer with Makating and DJ with Destanation sound. Prince Jacob, after finishing his role as Calypso Chef – I missed the culinary highlight with a Trinidadian flavour – chatted over the selections by the three DJs, as Hugo Makepeace, another long-time roots advocate, co-founder of Destanation and also of Reggae On Tap, chatted over the selections of Dan-I and Spanners. There were representations present from other local and regional sounds, such as Sir Sambo (Oxford), Jah Lion Movement (Reading), Zion Roots (Aylesbury) and Uno Mundo (High Wycombe); the roots reggae community coming together to support another venture, to support each other.
We remember Prince Far-I.
I often think that the Creator, looking into the future, could see that humanity would need something to soothe them: so he gave them roots reggae. Planting the seed, in the hearts of such people as Burning Spear, Little Roy and the Abyssinians: inspiring the engineers and producers of dub, such as Scientist, Errol Thompson and Dennis Bovell. And from the late sixties till now, their music and that of their peers continues to inspire us. In recent years, we have seen the founding of Dub Clubs in Swindon and in Reading: now there is one in Oxford. As individuals, we will pass on, so isn't good to know that roots reggae will never die; that what rocks us now, can put a bounce in the step of those who come after, alongside the contemporary offerings? The word is elation, when you're at a venue where you feel the buzz as soon as you step in - and the bubbling remains till the last tune is played. So it must have been something heaven-sent, to get a forty minute extension! Good things should go on as long as they can: so we give thanks to the security staff, for their support and flexibility.
We remember Yabby You.
It's not always easy - sometimes far from it – to blaze a trail with a new idea, especially when there are financial commitments: hall hire and security costs. So while paying homage to the iconic figures, such as Lee Scratch Perry and Jah Shaka, I must salute the local standard bearers too; so I give thanks to Dan-I, Daz and Spanners, for taking a gamble, but with a full hall, I think all expenses were covered. After all the mental worry and physical effort, I hope they are relaxing now and each is feeling like Bob Marley sang, ''I feel like a sweepstake winner.''
We remember Bunny Lee.