We signed off last month’s column in a fizz of excitement over the prospect of Carnival Weekend. Considered by many as the most enjoyable day on the East Oxford calendar, this year’s celebrations began on the Friday night, with Count Skylarkin hosting the marvelous middle-eastern-reggae-fusion troupe Raggasaurus, alongside London DJ and remixer Wrongtom – appropriately dusting off the Smiley Culture and Buju Banton records for an appreciative Oxford crowd. Saturday attention turned to South Park, where the Fiesta In The Park was headlined by UK hip-hop legend Roots Manuva. With an estimated 2.5k people through the gates, Rodney didn’t disappoint with a storming show as the sun set over the dreamy spires.
Sunday lunchtime saw the Carnival proper ignite with a 700 person procession through the park, and before you could say “witness the fitness”, the bands started up again, the CarnivALE began to run, and Cowley Road Carnival 2011 was in full swing. Headlining the Sunday music offerings was local jazz/blues consortium The Original Rabbit Foot Spasm Band, bringing to a close to a fantastic weekend in the city. We caught up with Stuart from the band to run through his favourite reggae songs, shortly before another storming set at the Big Ten Inch on the 15th.
July also saw Oxfordshire-raised reggae legend David Rodigan launch a brand new show on the BBC. The reggae residency began on the 14th and is aired at 10pm on Thursday nights on Radio 2. Linking with this, we announced the news that Rodders would be headlining the O2 Academy (for the second time this year!) at the end of August. BIG TUUUNE!
With not a great deal happening locally as the month went on, we looked to Lee Scratch Perry’s show in Reading, the Boomtown Fair festival taking place in Winchester, and travelled down the M40 for a couple of awesome shows in High Wycombe. The first was a pre-party for reggae and dub One Love Festival, and the second took place this weekend with the legendary Aba Shanti-I soundsystem. Before heading to Wycombe on Saturday night, we were dancing on our doorstep at the Natty Hi-Fi soundsystem all dayer at the Chester Arms, kicking off at 1pm into the evening. Raising money their Kenyan HIV charity, Natty and his crew brought a hefty bag of vinyl, a super performance from Oxford’s very own Jamatone, and the best Caribbean food the city has to offer.
Rounding off the weekend nicely, on Sunday we welcomed two of London’s finest dancehall DJs Shimmy Shimmy and Physically Fit, to the Port Mahon for our free monthly ‘Lord ‘av Mercy’ night, bringing two hours of the biggest bashment. All in all, a fantastic weekend of local reggae, and a great way to round-off the month. Don’t miss the details of our next night – consequently taking place on the last Friday of August, rather than Sunday – alongside daily updates, news, music and more by staying locked to Sensible Dancehall.