Roots of Reggae and Heritage of Ska hit Brixton

Brixton Tube. Photo: Sharkbait

In my last post I told you how I’d been contacted by Michael Arkk, the organiser behind Heritage of Ska festival, with a view to Roots of Reggae being involved in developing the event. I’m pleased to say talks with Michael have been going well and it looks like I will be working with him on the festival as well as a series of exciting warm-up events to promote the festival and bring about a full-scale ska, rocksteady and reggae revival in 2012! Here’s a quick update on how Roots of Reggae and Heritage of Ska have been working together.

This week, I’ve been sharing with Michael the lessons I learned from putting on December’s Roots of Reggae launch event.  I’ve enjoyed talking to Michael about everything from building a positive relationship with Lambeth Council to using social media to develop and engage with our target audience for Heritage of Ska. The highlight of my week, however, came on Friday, when I had the privilege to introduce Michael and our proposals for Heritage of Ska to two legends of the London reggae scene; Blacker Dread and Supertone.

Blacker Dread behind the counter of his music store

Simply put, Blacker Dread is reggae. For many years Blacker Dread  has owned and operated the Blacker Dread Music Store. Situated on Coldharbour Lane, just a few minutes down the road from the Ritzy Cinema, Blacker Dread’s store stocks an incredible range of reggae music, stretching all the way from the present day right back to the music of the 50s and 60s that Heritage of Ska is particularly looking to promote.

A video of Coxsone Sound from the early 80s. A young Blacker Dread can be seen 30 seconds in.

Besides running his music store, Blacker is also heavily involved in the Brixton music scene in other ways. Since the early 80s he’s been a key member of Sir Coxsone Sound, a legendary reggae sound system led by Lloydie Coxsone. Furthermore, Blacker is co-founder of the highly successful Brixton Splash, a free community street festival which since 2006 has celebrated Brixton’s diversity. And if that’s not all, Blacker is a good friend of Levi Roots since when they first went to school together.

Supertone Records on Acre Lane, Brixton. Photo: Supertone Records

Supertone is another legend of the London reggae scene and someone whose achievements I am keen to celebrate at a future Roots of Reggae event. Like Blacker Dread, Supertone combines running a music store (the cryptically-titled Supertone Records, a 10 minute walk from the Ritzy Cinema on Acre Lane) with a highly-regarded sound system operation. The Supertone sound system can often be found at West Norwood Banqueting Suite and Snooker Club. In fact this coming Satuday (11th Feb) Supertone sound is hosting David Roddigan, a veteran English DJ/selector who made his name through a series of classic ‘sound clashes’ in the 80s. Although politeness prevented me from asking Supertone what age he is, his firsthand accounts of the development of ska, rocksteady and reggae suggested to me he may now be in his 60s or even 70s.

It was truly a privilege to speak with Blacker Dread and Supertone and get their thoughts on the Heritage of Ska festival. Michael and I were pleased with the positive reaction we got for Heritage of Ska from both Blacker Dread and Supertone and their interest in seeing us develop the festival over the coming months. I was particularly impressed by the way Blacker Dread took the time to understand what we’re trying to do with the festival and his generous offer of help with reviewing Michael’s proposal and connecting us to some of his many contacts in the fields of music and commercial sponsorship.

Hopefully this post helps gives you an idea of how quickly  Heritage of Ska is taking shape. I will continue to keep you up-to-date with further  developments in the weeks to come. Watch out as well for news on Roots of Reggae, which I am continuing to develop. I had an important meeting regarding the future development of Roots of Reggae but this  news will have to wait for a future post.

Have a great week,

Francis (RootsofReggae)

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One Response to “Roots of Reggae and Heritage of Ska hit Brixton”
  1. M, Arkk says:

    Roots of Reggae and HOS Fest. BlackerDread Mucic Store, Supertone Sound Crew & Music Store. The Skarettes support Crew. We keep London & Birmingham dubbing.
    You are all welcome to join us. Drop us a line any time.
    Its The INFLUENCE.

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