At the end of every month, we will be asking Robin Lomax from local Reggae/Dub website Sensible Dancehall to look back over the last month of dancehall, roots and reggae in Oxford as well as previewing what lies ahead for reggae and dub fans living in the City of Dreaming Spires!
June has been a busy old month for the Oxford reggae community. We’ve seen a living legend grace the famous stage at The Regal, a new monthly night established, a festival cancelled and various live shows across the city. All this whilst the Cowley Road Carnival organisers are booking one of Britain’s finest UK urban artists and moving everything over to the park. And you thought reggae was all about easy vibes and chilling out…
The month started down the Cowley Road, where dub heads young and old headed to The Regal for the hotly anticipated appearance of Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry. Laid Blak and Oxford’s Dubwiser got the crowd skanking nicely before the Upsetter himself appeared for his first ever Oxford show, clad in his finest home-made Rastafari clobber. A legendary performance from the 72 year old Godfather of dub. Hot on the heels of their LSP support slot, Dubwiser made their way up the High Street the following weekend for a cracking show at Bassmentality with Oxford’s recently reformed reggae troupe Makating at the Cellar.
Whilst all this was going on, we were hearing rumours about two local institutions: Out To Graze Festival and Cowley Road Carnival. Promising a host of brilliant artists, from DJ Derek and Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs to two nights curated by Count Skylarkin, OTG was forced to move from it’s Fir Tree County Park residence to Northamptonshire’s Fawsley Park, only for the authorities to stick their noses in with an unmanageable ultimatum, forcing organisers to cancel this years festival. The good news is they’re already cracking on with preparations for 2012. Best of luck.
Cowley Road Carnival took the unwanted but ultimately sensible decision to up sticks and move the whole Carnival to South Park. The end of an era, perhaps, but with the bad news came the good; Roots Manuva was announced as the headliner of the Carnival’s fundraising Fiesta In The Park the night before. No road closure, no procession, no Hi-Lo soundsystem, but rest assured the vibes will still be big in the Park all weekend.
Last weekend saw the return of Foundation Friday after a month off in May, and a rare appearance from Oxford soundsystem team DestaNation at the Bullingdon Arms. Over on Sensible Dancehall we interviewed Jamaican dancehall upcoming star Terro 3000, before concentrating on our new free monthly club reggae evening Lord ‘av Mercy. On the last Sunday of the month we took over upstairs at the Port Mahon for Oxford’s newest reggae, dub and dancehall night. With two sessions now under our belt, on Sunday 31st July we welcome two of London’s top dancehall DJ’s: Shiobhan from club night Physically Fit, and Suze from the fantastic website ShimmyShimmy.co.uk.
This coming weekend the Cellar welcomes the ever excellent Skylarkin Soundsystem featuring Roots Manuva collaborator Wrongtom and Oxford reggae outfit Raggasaurus as a preview to Sunday’s Carnival. Saturday is the aforementioned Roots Manuva Fiesta in the Park, featured and interviewed in the Oxford Mail this week, and then, of course, Cowley Road Carnival on Sunday. Have a great weekend and we’ll be back this time next month. In the meantime, for daily local updates visit our website www.sensibledancehall.com