Jamaica Turns 50

Reggae is a genre that divides–most people either love it, or don’t. There isn’t too much middle ground. As with all genres, we accept that, and in our work we know that we have to put our clients’ tastes in music first and shape what we play around that framework. Whether you love reggae or not, it is noteworthy to mention that the roots of DJing and using 2 turntables and a mixer, truly started among Jamaicans.

“The sound system concept first became popular in the 1950s, in the ghettos of Kingston. DJs would load up a truck with a generator, turntables, and huge speakers and set up street parties. In the beginning, the DJs played American rhythm and blues music, but as time progressed and more local music was created, the sound migrated to a local flavor. The sound systems were big business, and represented one of the few sure ways to make money in the unstable economy of the area. Turntablism, the art of using turntables not only to play music but to manipulate sound and create original music, began to develop.”

It’s a pretty remarkable influence on modern culture for such a small country. This coming Monday, August 6th, marks the 50th anniversary of Jamaican independence. In honor of that, we went to see a screening of the classic 1978 movie “Rockers” at BAM cinema . It was the opening screening for their current film festival featuring 4 days of films from Jamaica. Rockers is filled with incredible reggae from that era, and the cast features real musicians from the time including Jacob Miller, Big Youth, Dirty Harry and Burning Spear. It is an incredibly real portrayal of the great styles of that era in Jamaica and is a modern take on the Robin Hood storyline.

In another nod to Jamaica, Abby will be DJ-ing a party tomorrow, Saturday, August 4th, out in Montauk at Ruschmeyer’s . In their outdoor space, the Sandbar, from 5pm to 9pm playing all reggae, all vinyl from her deep and extensive collection of roots era reggae records. Blackwell’s Rum the official sponsor of the event, was started by Chris Blackwell of Island Records fame. Sunday, there will be a live performance by the legendary Sister Nancy. If you are lucky enough to be out at the beach, please come say hi!!