Friday, December 01, 2006

Reggae Debate - City Hall Style !

Following on from my previous 'Reggae gets Mayors attention' post which reported a pilot reggae debate that was organised by Jeffrey Lennon of the Urban Enterprise Network.

On 25th October 2006 the reggae fraternity (approx 250 in number) descended en-masse at City Hall the London Mayors business abode described by some as resembling a 'testicle' in its architectural design style.

The evening started with a reception where Jeremy Collingwood's vintage sound system played some wonderful music as gatherers looked at photography supplied by Urban Image photographers. Drinks on tap were Red Stripe, Guinness and ital orange juice while Jamaican inspired canapes were handed out generously.

About 30 minutes later than expected we were shepherded up to the assembly chamber where five tables were arranged to receive the panel 'experts.' Namely Blacker Dread (Coxsone), Caroline Williams (Sista), Clive Dickenson (Greensleeves), David Katz (author), Dotun Adebayo (BBC London), Hugh Francis (Jet Star), Jazzie B (Soul 2 Soul), Jena Davis (Sista), John MacGillvray (Dub Vendor) , Lesley Lyrics (former Saxon DJ) , Lloyd Bradley (Bass Culture author), Martin Skitsel (last.fm), Mikey Dread (Channel One), Mykal Riley (Steel Pulse), Nicky Ezer (Culture Promotions), Stuart Baker (Soul Jazz), Trevor Sax (Saxon founder), there were also another member of Sista and a dubstep producer whose names I did not find out. Conspicuous by their absence were uk rhythm twins Mafia & Fluxy and also veteran reggae selector David Rodigan.

The debate was kicked off by Jeff Lennon who brought on Lee Jasper the mayors Director of Equalities & Policing who after doing a reasonable stand up routine actually blessed the debate by calling the rather astonished audience to chant 'Rastafari!' after his second mancunian cry of 'Jah.'

Jeff Lennon then fired subject matter at the experts who each gave their opinions and argued their corners. This went on for quite a while until the last 20 minutes or so where the audience were given the opportunity to fire questions at the expert panel. A lot of subject matter was debated and a lot of hot air expelled by the experts. Of all that was said it was members of the audience that raised two points worthy of mention in my opinion;

Considering we were debating the rich heritage left by reggae music and the sound system culture why is it that todays policies set by government and local authorities are doing much to oppress that culture by not providing or actually excluding sound systems from suitable venues? Also another member of the public asked the panel experts when they were going to debate or demonstrate the one important message of the music and culture being that of 'unity?' This was also mentioned by Mykal Riley (ex Steel Pulse) who looked round the panel of experts saying that whilst he recognised and could name 75% of them. He questioned why he/they had not been in touch with each other for around 10 years?

So the big debate mirrored the previous pilot meeting in that it is obvious that the reggae and sound system fraternity needs a unifying organisation to bring it together under one protective umbrella that will support and nurture it for future prosperity. How will that now happen?

For pics from the event click link below;
Link

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