Roots of Reggae: Making the Band

Blending the best of the old and the new: the future of music making technology (in 1981). Photo: Flickr/dr. motte

As regular readers of this blog will know, this year I have been looking to establish Roots of Reggae as a regular entertainment fixture in Brixton and, at the same time, look for ways to deep our social purpose of bringing people of all ages and backgrounds together.

For far, it has been the entertainment side which has been progressing most smoothly, and I’m proud to say we’ll be screening the Reggae classic The Harder They Come this Saturday afternoon Upstairs at the Ritzy. However, following a recent meeting with Age UK Kensington and Chelsea it looks like Roots of Reggae will have an opportunity to support an exciting new social project. Allow me to explain…

Westway to the World

Last week I was invited by Ben Long, a project officer with Age UK Kensington Chelsea, to tell them a little bit about the Roots of Reggae project. I was excited to have been invited, not least because Age UK Kensington and Chelsea’s offices are located directly beneath the Westway immortalised by The Clash. More significantly, the invitation was further evidence that the potential of Roots of Reggae was being recognised by a wider audience.

Westway to the World: The Westway in Portobello Road

After providing an enthusiastic run-through of Roots of Reggae, Ben and his colleague Saba told me about how they support a range of intergenerational projects in the borough. These aim to create relationships of mutual support and understanding by bringing the generations together. Age UK Kensington and Chelsea projects focus on bringing older people (55+) and young people (under 25) together. You can read more about their work here. Could Roots of Reggae act as a vehicle for bringing generations together?

We Can Work It Out

After kicking about different ideas for how we might be able to work together, we hit upon the idea of forming a band made up of members from different generations.

Think about it, how cool would it be if an aspiring young musician could learn from a veteran with a lifetime’s experience of kicking out the jams? And, just as importantly, what could a veteran musician gain from playing alongside younger generations? In the same way that David Hockney has embraced the iPad, could older musicians find themselves revitalised by new music making & distribution technology ?

At the moment, we’re thinking of approaching forming a intergenerational band from two directions. Over the next few weeks we will be speaking to older musicians to see if they would be interested in getting involved with the project. At the same time, we’ll be speaking initially with youth centres to gauge the likely interest from young musicians.

Assuming we get a positive initial response, we will then look to organise a project launch, where musicians can meet each other and explore different options for working together.

So what do you think of our idea?

Maybe you’re a veteran musician or know people who are? Would you be interested in forming an intergenerational  band and supporting younger musicians?

Or maybe you’re a younger musician. Does the idea of learning from older musicians and sharing new ideas with them appeal to you?

And if you’re simply a fan of music in general, do you think there’s a good chance older and younger musicians could make some good music by playing together?

It’s still very early days and we would very much welcome your thoughts on our plans. Feel free to post comments below or get in touch with me directly at


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