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Dateline: 26/11/04 Venue: Brixton Recreational Centre.
Ah yes,'University Of Dub' just the tonic to bolster one's self against the ravages of the forthcoming winter and the system we are all experiencing. In attendance for the musical shower tonight are, Aba Shanti-I, Jah Youth and Iration Steppas.
run a stall at this session due to prior commitments. Blood was
off to France as the drummer in Max Romeo's band.
Samari was up country and I had landed at Heathrow at 21:30 and headed straight for Brixton after leaving the terminal, and arrived at 22:45.
Youth was having some technical problems causing some serious
humming which was affecting both Aba's and Iration's sets.
This was sorted out later in the session by King Charles.
We had a hitch with our hi-mids which refused to play on the newly repaired (just picked up that afternoon) amps, and we had reconfigure the setup to compensate for this, but not without blowing one of them (the hi-mids that is).
Anyway the trails and tribulations aside, the session got underway slighty later than normal, but underway it did.
opened the session with a tribute to Dennis Emanuel Brown (One
of the greatest voices in music,any music. Jah know!) and played
'Three Meals A Day'. Jah Youth continued the tribute with
'Open Up' and Aba played 'No More Walls'.
I observed as Aba Shanti-I regulars flashed dem locks and high stepped their way across the dance floor.Age and gender was no boundary. For me they could have played D.Brown all night long, but then again that is me just being selfish.
The next round saw Iration run a dubplate called 'Quarter Ounce' from his release 'Dubs from The Higher Regions' and ended his selection with a Bingi version.
This Bingi theme was continued by Jah Youth who played a Daweh Congo dubplate with a heavy Bingi feel.
Aba rinsed out a dubplate of 'Wisdom Of Solomon' by Roman Stewart and acknowledged the fact that Mikey from Channal One was the first to play that tune, and finished off with a dubplate called 'WMD'.
Well come 02:25 and jet lag and hunger got the better of me and I had to leave just before the one for one started.
things to note:
1:When I refer to rounds in the text above it is not like in a sound clash way, for 'University Of Dub ' is not a clash, but a meeting of like minded sounds playing in praise of H.I.M.
2:The next Brixton is next year 4th February 2005.
bredda who I saw at Lyon / Aix recording the session was present
at this dance and again was recording the session. I spoke to
Aba and pointed him out and Aba just said "Lo him, Lion.
For there is nuff people recording the show and ting".
So bredrin is not that I didn't see you, it's that Aba gave you grace.
So do me a favour, next time you are at an Aba session, come and see me and explain who you are. What you are doing and for what reason. We are reasonable people.
& Cru, Jah Youth & Cru, Aba Shanti-I Cru, Mikey Dread
& Queen, Gill (Ex-London now Liverpool) Tim & Heidi, King
Charles, Tribulation, Raymond Judah & The University Of Dub
Cru, Wild Fiyah, Sister Millie & Cru, Little Andy, Stevie,
Gus, Andrew, Tony,
Lincolnshire, Birmingham, Wiltshire, and all over the UK, Holland,
France, Italy, Germany, and the world
Dateline: 09/10/04 Venue: La Salle Bois De l'aune, Aix En Provence.France.
a shower and went for a stroll in the early morning around the
streets of Lyon, because I knew that if I fell asleep the chances
of me getting up for the midday ship out would be small.
I got some strange looks as I photographed certain interesting features of the city, but then that is nothing usual.
I arrived back at the hotel at 09:10 and decided to have breakfast, anything rather than fall asleep. I got back to my room at 10:00 and switched the TV on to the BBC news channel and sat on the bed.
I was woke up by someone banging very loudly on my hotel door and calling my name, I went to the door and opened it to a very agitated Blood,
"You alright" he asked?
"Yeah" I replied "Why"?
It seems that he had been trying to wake me for the last 20 minutes as all the others were waiting downstairs.
That is why I didn't want to fall asleep because I had been without sleep for over 72 hours and my days of being able to bleach for 5-6 days have long since gone.
I picked up my stuff and hurried downstairs to find all the rest of the cru in the hotel lobby just waiting for me. I said my apologies and we boarded the bus for the drive to Marseille.
The drive to Marseille was as rapid as the drive to Lyon and before we knew it we were taking the motorway turn off to Aix.
as we approached the roundabout we could see a large group of
French police in vans and on motorcycles just waiting on the exit
We had not traveled more than a 100m on the Aix road when we heard police sirens and on looking back saw two police motorcycles coming up fast behind us and flashing for us to pull over. As Red Fred pulled over one took up a position in front of the bus and one behind.
I know what you are thinking, people who are darker than blue (well 5out of the 8 on the bus were) being harassed by the local racist constabulary. Not so dear reader, the reason they stopped us was due to Red Fred was not wearing a seatbelt and the French police are very strict on this issue. So they took Red Fred back to the checkpoint and after a stern lecture issued him with a fine.
Blood was telling as we waited for Red Fred to return, that in Italy there is a roaring trade in plain colour T shirts with a diagonal black stripe to fool the police into thinking that you have your seatbelt on.
With the return of Red Fred we were on our way to the venue.
Well me bredrins the venue was a real turnup for the book. It was a real nice venue and talking to Julien it turns out it was a community centre for the town which has now been handed over to a group of people to put on musical and cultural events. Well me bredrins, we are musical and we are certainly cultural.
We unloaded our stuff and went into the venue through the large foyer and through 2 sets of soundproof doors to enter one huge hall in which Steflion was finishing off setting up the last of the three stacks he had assembled for Aba and Vibronics to play on.
I looked at Aba and Blood who too were looking at the size of the hall and we all thought the same thing; if this hall gets full there is going to be one mass of people in the place.
As we approached the centre of the hall we were greeted by Stef and Marie and much pleasantries were exchanged and after we went off and dumped our stuff in the dressing rooms.
There were some interviews we had to do so one by one the reporters came and asked their questions and without fail all the reporters were so relaxed and comfortable they didn't want to leave our company.
One reporter in particular after 40 minutes of interviewing Aba and Blood wanted to ask me some questions in regards to the web site, artwork and the philosophy behind 'Falasha recordings'.
answering his questions,he then told me that he loved the way
that the web site is done and the way that the artwork of our
albums is so different from anyone elses.
He particularly liked the "Writing On The Wall' page of the web site and wanted to know the reason behind it.
I explained that part of the web site as an unlying humour but is still about education and information.
For if you are made to laugh or smile when reading something you will remember it.
Our whole ethos is about imparting knowledge, whether it be through music or the web. For when the web was first used it was a text only environment and it made for very heavy going when trying to read something.
Now the web is very heavy going because everyone and his dog is using animation and all kinds of whizz bang graphics which detracts in my opinion, from any content contained on that site. We on the other hand are on the web to impart information and so not that I can't use Flash/Fireworks/Dreamweaver etc, for believe bredrins and sistrens I can, it is that I choose not to.
Anyway he was very happy with his interview with us and he told us that he could not believe he was interviewing us and that we were such nice friendly, open people and that he was looking forward to my write up on the web site of the night.
Interviews over we went back out into the hall as Steflion was testing out his set and it sounded good!
I went outside into the foyer and I could see through the main glass doors that a sizeable crowd had already started to form and the time was 19:00. The opening time was not till 20:00.
I went back into the hall and Steflion switched off the set and we all went to go and have our evening meal upstairs. Blood and Aba particularly liked the food that was provided.
began playing as the crowd entered the hall and started to fill
it up very quickly. I went out to the foyer and the queue was
like a very long snake. Going from the foyer and out and round
The foyer was where all the stalls selling arts and crafts were and where I was going to set up our record stall.
up with the Izzy (the lady that took such
good care of Aba and myself at the Ja Sound Festival) and her boyfriend
in the foyer.They were our guests for the night and it was nice
to return the good vibes.
After making sure that they gained entry I went to set up the stall.
As I was laying out the records and cd's I noticed that the steady stream of people into the hall had come to a stop and that there was a slight commotion at the ticket booth.
I went over to find out what the problem was after hearing a bredda say that he was invited by Aba and that the Humble Lion had told him that he was on the guest list and he had no intention of moving until they let him in for free.
The girl behind the ticket booth after taking abuse from this person had left the booth.
I asked the bredda if he knew me? He said No! I said that was good because I didn't know him and if he didn't know me then he had not been invited and was not on our guest list because I had done the list, (only two people were on our guest list, Izzy and her boyfriend).
"Who are you" he asked as Red Fred and William escorted him from the place?
Red Fred answered him "That is the Humble Lion"!
With the interloper safely removed the girl went back to the booth and the flow of people continued.
People if you try and blag your way into a place at least do your homework, for you never know who is listening.
Steflion finished his set at 22:00 and Vibronic and Cru took over and started their session.
I wandered into the hall for very brief periods during the night as I was running the stall so my accounts of what was happening in the hall are sketchy.
Vibronics and Cru handed over to Aba at midnight and Aba started his selection with one of my all time favourite tunes 'I Know Myself' by Ernest Wilson which was just a foretaste of the musical pleasures to come.
The temperature in the hall was....., me bredrins and sistrens it was HOT! and I was glad that the stall was outside in the foyer which itself was hot, but not as hot as in the hall.
The crowd was just loving the session and the vibe was crucial. I popped into the hall and noticed some very familiar faces from the previous night, other sessions we had played in France and from 'University Of Dub' in Brixton. One bredda in particular I have seen at dances all over Europe and now I know why. So this is directed at the bredda in the hat with the concealed microphone taping the show. I now know you but you don't know me, and next time I see you "Cuh"..you dun know. Tread very carefully my bredrin, for in the jungle the lion is king.
Aba called on the crowd to sing the chorus of 'Children Of The Most High' as a prelude to the appearance of Blood Shanti and just like the night before they did.
came on the mic and started singing and just like the night before
the crowd stopped to listen to him; mouthing the words to the
songs that they knew and listening intently to the new ones.
I looked over to see Marie engrossed in watching the one Blood Shanti sing and I smiled to myself, for I have noticed that when Blood sings, the women seem to get lost in his voice.
Marie was not the only one watching and listening intently to Blood; the whole of the front of the staging area was mostly women and I did notice Izzy being right up there on the right hand side, rocking away.
Well 03:00 came and went, which was the time the session should have finished, so I went looking for Julien to get the lights turned on only to find the whole of the 'Musical Riot' cru by the rear speaker stack, lost in the music and skanking away.
I didn't want to disturb the vibe so I turned and started to walk back to the foyer. I was then tapped on the shoulder by Julien who asked me if Aba could play for another 15 minutes. As Aba had already played for over 30 minutes pass the curfew I agreed. I continued on my way back to the foyer and I passed sistren Melanie who with eyes closed and a big smile on her face as she skanked away her troubles. As they used to say back in the day:
She was loving, loving, loving it.
Well the time was now 04:05 and Aba bidded fareware to the crowd played the final tune and the session was over.
good people of Marseille, Aix and the surrounding regions thank
you for making it a wonderful session, from Aba, Blood and myself
we hope to see you again in the near future.
To bredrins Red Fred, Julien, I-manity and The Musical Riot cru give thanks.
To the heartical bredrin and sistren, Steflion and Marie (Lion Roots Sound), blessings, and it would not have been the same without your sound.
To the Red Lion Cru, give thanks. Nice people nice sound.
To Izzy and boyfriend, you are most welcome anywhere we play. Jah love.
Just a thought dear readers from France but it also applies to all regions; support your local sound systems, man like Red Lion Sound, Lion Roots Sound, Reality Sound, Zion Gate Sound for even though it is nice to see so many of you turn out when we come to play, it would also be nice, that when we are not there, dem man and others like them that are carrying on the works are duly supported. For without your support they will not flourish and who knows one or some of them may become just as respected as Aba Shanti-I, Jah Shaka, Iration steppaz, Jah Youth, King Shiloh..........etc.
For when they all started if it wasn't for the little support that they got that grew into the big support they now possess, none of them would be playing sound system now. Running a sound system is a very expensive business and you have to love to be in it. Jah Know!
Dateline: 08/10/04 Venue: Rail Theatre, Lyon.France.
We had to catch another early flight from Gatwick, so it was another night of no sleep till after showtime after a very long day.
Blood and Aba arrived at my yard at 03:00 and after chilling for an hour it was time for me to wake the Lioness from her slumber so that she could drive us to the station to catch the 04:37 fast train to Gatwick airport. Raspect Lioness.
an uneventful flight and arrival in Marseille.
We were met by the promoter Julien and bredrin Red Fred from 'Dub Fi Dub' who was doing the driving.
We loaded our stuff into the van and Blood and I took up residence in the back seats while Aba commandeered the middle seats. The seating positions will become significant, but more on that later.
We then drove off at a steady rate of knots to go to the hotel to pick up Vibronics & Cru; Singer Madu and MC Richi Rootz who had arrived the night before. We arrived at the hotel and Madu sat in the back with Blood and I and Vibronic and Richi sat in the middle with Aba. We were then ready to roll and off we went to the motorway to drive to Lyon.
When we hit the motorway bredrin Red Fred just adopted a straight line, (a straight line if you remember from your maths lessons is the shortest distance between two points) put pedal to the metal and was gone.
We were travelling so fast we were overtaking planes in the sky! I looked over to Aba who was dozing peacefully. Vibronics and Richi looked extremely concerned as we flashed by vechicle after vechicle, they looked like rabbits who had been caught in a car's headlights and were transfixed.
been driven around Europe many times we have become accustomed
to the particular style of Continental drivers which is nothing
like the English style of slow and steady; more akin to a guided
missile or bullet from a gun. I looked at Blood who had a smirk
on his face and I smiled and nodded.
I then closed my eyes as sleep was calling me in earnest, safe in the knowledge that Red Fred knew what he was doing.
I was awoken as we had pulled in to a service station to get fuel and some hot food.
When we got back into the van I noticed that Vibronics and Richi had now taken the back seats which Blood and I originally had, which meant we had to sit in the middle seats. I told you the the seating arrangements would become significant.
The journey to Lyon took, excluding the stop for fuel and refreshments, two hours and ten minutes.
The distance between Marseille and Lyon is 328 Km or 204 miles!!!!!!! That tells you how fast we were travelling. I asked Julien how long it would take to get to Lyon before we set out and I quote:
"Not very long Lion. Fred is driving very fast." You don't say!
Raspect Red Fred for not only getting us to the venue, but getting us there SAFELY. One Love.
We arrived at the venue as Red Lion sound were setting up
was a slight setup problem with Red Lion Sound. They had enough
boxes to make 2 stacks ie: 6 bass bins.4 mids ands 2 tops, but
not enough leads to be able to make 2 stacks.
So they had to make one big stack that once set up and tuned sounded all right.
I set up the stall at the far end of the hall and then we all decided it was time to check out the hotel and hold a fresh.
The time now was 16:30.
to the hotel and were allocated our rooms and a time was set,
19:45 for the pick up and return to the venue.
20:00 and we are on our way back to the venue.
We arrive at the venue and we escorted to a large table for our evening meal, alfresco.
It might have been cold where you are people, but trust me, in the balmy evening heat of the south of France to have our meal outside was more than welcomed.
Much hilarity and joshing between the Vibronics Cru and ourselves as we partook of the repast (jokes as we yammed our food).
As we ate the time for the doors to the venue to open arrived and as Red Lion Sound rocked the arriving throng, we chilled.
Vibronics Cru were due to play first from 22:00- 00:00 and when us from 00:00 till done. I say till done and not quote a time as when Aba plays Europe we have never ever finished at the stated time. We always end up playing for an hour or so over, due to the demands of the public; and hearing Aba saying this is my last tune for the night for the 10th time as become an accepted situation.
You know when I know that Aba has finished? When I see him backstage and the set has been broken down, for until then there is always a chance that the promoter will ask if he can play for another 10-15 minutes?
I left the table and went to see how the hall was filling up.
Filling up! Bwoy it was already full. So I did a circle and went
round the back to get a view of the entrance and the queue. Dread,
it was like a river meandering up the street.
I went back to the table and Blood asked me:
"How is it looking in there"?
"Come and see for yourself," I told him.
So all seated at the table got up and ventured into the hall, to be met by a wall of people on all sides and the time was 21:25.
Tonight the cognoscenti of Roots music were out in force. It was going to be a hot one!
and Cru went on at 22:00 and started the entertainment for the
night in earnest, with Richi and Madu in good voice, running lyrics
and vocals across a selection of Vibronics productions in fine
I was manning the stall and there was just a heaving wall of people between me and the stage area. The heat in the place was like a sauna and I resembled a melting snowman albeit darker than blue rather that snow white.
Vibronics and Cru handed over to Aba at midnight and the blessing was about to begin.
As Aba rinsed out some wicked classics interspersed with more recent soon to be regarded classics, I was singing away on the stall and playing imaginary instruments, notably the bass and the drums. So much so that the bredrin from Red Lion sound that was running their stall asked me if I was a musician, because I seemed to him to be playing drums and plucking bass completely in time to the music.
me that he was trying to learn the guitar but was finding it tough.
I told him that I was a player of instruments and that if you saw me playing an imaginary instrument that is my way of showing appreciation for a really well constructed tune; for I can just see myself in my mind's eye, in the studio or on stage with the other musicians just rocking that tune out. Think 'Air Guitar' player and you have me. But I can actually play a few odd chords. Some say very odd chords.
But that is what good music does to you; it takes you to another place which I call 'The Zone', where you can be you; without the worry that the other people around you are staring at you, for they too are in 'The Zone'.
Aba has that ability to generate that vibe and that my friends is a very rare quality indeed.
introduced Blood Shanti as he played 'Children Of The Most
High' and invited the crowd to sing along if they knew the
words and surprise, surprise they did.
It was rather surreal to see a large crowd of Roots music fans singing the lyrics at a sound system event, as this is something more associated with large arena and Rock bands.
When Blood came to the fore and started to sing the whole of the crowd just stopped and listened. I looked at Blood's face and he was clearly shocked for he expected the crowd to continue as they did when Richi & Madu were performing, that is keep dancing, not listen as if they were at a proper concert. This caused him a moment of hesitation not to say fear, as his eyes flashed across the staring mass. But he continued and by the time he started singing 'What A Gwan' the crowd were swaying and flashing dem lighters.
I looked over to survey the people and Melanie from the Red Lion had her eyes shut and a huge grin on her face as she listened to Blood sing. I then looked at her man who was on the stall and he too had a huge smile on his face as he watched Melanie let the music wash her troubles away.
was' lost in music' a young lady came to the stall and asked what
was on the live cd's. I told her "Exactly what you are
listening to now".
"What is the quality like"?
"The best quality" I replied, she looked at me to see if I was trying to hustle her. She bought a cd and said:
"I don't care if you have f##ked me over. I just love this music and he has such a wonderful voice"
So this is directed at you REBECCA, is the cd exactly what I said it would contain, including Aba's & Blood's golden tones? Jah know.(She also corrected me on my spelling of Aix Du Provence to Aix En Provence on my poster advertising the live session cd's, Thanks)
the session reached the finishing time and as expected Aba was
asked to play on. First for 30 minutes and then for another 15,
so we didn't actually finish till 04:15.
The venue owner was happy, the promoter was happy and the people that attended were very happy. Aba, Blood, Vibronics Cru and I were tired but contented.
So it was into the bus for the drive back to the hotel. As we drove back Julien told us that we would be picked up at midday for the journey to Marseille.
As we approached the hotel the sun was just rising.
The time 05:20.
Raspects: To all the people of Lyon, The venue owner and staff. wicked Vibes, Vibronics ,Richi, Madu, Red Fred, Julien & The Musical Riot Cru, I-manity, Seb Caroyl, Seb 3, Sally, Rebecca, Denis & Red Lion Sound Cru, Melanie,
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