Let’s Play Vinyl, an exhibition on roots reggae showcasing today’s sound system operators, is currently touring the UK.
Sound systems and the UK roots reggae scene is becoming more diverse, and a new generation of sound system operators are carrying on a love of vinyl.
Mandy Samra, curator, is the brains behind the project and told GUAP all about it.
Let’s Play Vinyl is touring in partnership with four unis (University of Leicester, Goldsmiths University of London, Birmingham City University and the University of Huddersfield). The universities want to reach out to their local communities and workshops running alongside the exhibition aim to do just that.
Photos of different sound system operators will be on display including operators for each of the four locations. Photographer, Ellis Baxter, was commissioned to take the portraits. There’s a focus on three women sound operators, who are at the forefront and are helping to pioneer the scene. One of the women featured is Helene Henry – founder of Mousai sound from Leicester who builds sound systems from scratch.
Brought up in Huddersfield Mandy spent her school days listening to her friends talk about sound systems and blues parties . Mandy created and developed the Sound System Culture project for Let’s Go Yorkshire in 2012. She realised that the vibrant stories of the reggae roots sound system scene in the 60’s and 70’s were mostly untold. She started talking to her local Caribbean community about what it was like back in the day and found that roots reggae was an important part of their history.
As shown in her latest exhibition, Let’s Play Vinyl, the younger generation are carrying the legacy forward and different crews are coming together to play roots music. A large number of sounds are still following the original format, playing music on one turntable. Some of the new operators are now playing from their laptops and have moved away from the traditional form. Groups like Reggae Roast don’t play vinyl but they are also record producers and have a connection to vinyl in their own way through their label.
Other pioneers include Young Warrior Sound System, Junior Quaker – son of the original Quaker City, and Wassifa Sound, who played on the original boxes that belonged to their parents.
To stay up to date with upcoming events and workshops check https://www.facebook.com/Soundsystemculture1/
Now – 24 November, University of Leicester, Balcony Gallery at Attenborough Arts Centre
10 January – 12 February 2018, Goldsmiths University of London, Stuart Hall Building
21 March – 5 April 2018, Birmingham City University, Parkside Building
10 May – 29 June 2018, University of Huddersfield, Creative Arts Building
Workshops are free and include:
Let’s Toast workshop – learn to toast
Let’s play vinyl workshop – bring old 45s and play them on an interactive vintage sound system
Let’s build a sound system – you get to build and keep your own mini sounds system
4 November, pop up event, 2Funky Music Cafe, Leicester – exclusive photos of the gear will be displayed alongside a roots reggae dance night with 3 sound system operators from the exhibition
13 January 2018, Strictly Vinyl, Goldsmiths 1pm – 4am – symposium and dance night with Unit 137