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Music and Musings at 'Grounation' with Nomaddz and Di Blueprint
The musical skills of Nomaddz and Di Blueprint Band combined with the theoretical ground of Joshua Chamberlain and Dr. Clinton Hutton second week of Grounation 2013. Grounation is a weekly series of music and reasoning presented by the Jamaica Music Museum as a part of its Reggae Month activities. Though unexpectedly lengthy, and devoid of electricity for much of the event it was a successful staging.
Chamberlain, the first of the two presenters, focused on confrontation and conflict in sound system culture with a presentation titled ‘Death Before Dishonour: Conflict, Confrontation and Civic Literacy in Sound System Culture. Chamberlain highlighted that conflict has been a central part of the development of sound systems. Interestingly, his presentation noted that conflict does not merely arise between sound systems or DJs etc, but also occur as a part of the class and power struggle. He explored this through an examination of the power struggle between the promoters of the weekly Rae Town street dance and the police.
A touch of entertainment was sandwiched between the two presenters as Nicholi Walker and Donalee Smith, students of Calabar Primary and Junior High, who performed 'Redemption Song' and 'Can't give up Now'.
Dr. Hutton presented a meandering, yet informative talk, seemingly thrown off track by the loss of electricity at the start of his presentation which should have been accompanied by several slides. Hutton presentation, titled ‘“Oh Rudie”: Jamaican Popular Music and the Narrative of Urban Badness in the Making of Postcolonial Society’ argued that the police force and insufficient housing are two legacies of colonization which have directly impacted the rise of the rude bwoi figure. Hutton also pointed out that Reggae has recorded much of the rude bwoi history however in most cases the songs were opposed to the rude bwoi generated violence with two of the exceptions coming from Lee Scratch Perry and The Wailers. According to Hutton these two pro rude boy songs paved the way to the progressive enlightened songs which became a central ethos of Reggae.
When Nomaddz took the stage, the electricity had not yet returned to the venue. The group therefore delved into an acoustic performance of 'Babylon Be Still'. However, by the end of the song electricity had returned. Nomaddz therefore switched their tactic and added an electric guitar to their performance as they delivered engaging, yet relaxed rendition of 'Steps Dem Ordered' before ending with 'Bad bwoi Ratty'. Their set, touching on rebellion, confrontation and badness, was the perfect match to the afternoon’s discussion.
Then it was time for Di Blueprint band to take over, and they delivered an engaging and varied performance. The band opened with 'Blue Print' followed by 'Melodies', before delving into covers of two Jamaican classic, 'Unity’ and 'Intensified'. Di Blueprint then switched the mood with 'Breathe' and 'Baby Boo', which should have closed their set. However, it was not enough and the audience demanded an encore for which they performed 'Darkness' and closed with Bob Marley's 'Concrete Jungle'.
Despite its length, it was a suitable event for Reggae Month in keeping with the Jamaica Music Museum's attempts to marry entertainment and knowledge. The second installment of Grounation took place at the Institute of Jamaica’s Lecture Hall, East Street, Kingston on Sunday, February 10, at 2:00 pm. The series continues for the remainder of Reggae Month 2013 and closes on Sunday, February 24, 2013.