The Sound System Culture tour arrives in the West Country next month.

The history of Bristol’s reggae sound systems is the focus of a new exhibition opening at Colston Hall next month. Curated by Mandeep Samra and Clarks in Jamaica author Al ‘Fingers’ Newman, the display aims to shed light on a part of UK history that “has meant so much to so many people, yet has been largely overlooked by mainstream historians,” they say.

Alongside photographs documenting selectors and soundmen in the city from the 1950s to now, the display will give visitors a chance to interact with Heritage HiFi, a vintage-style sound system custom-built for the project which comes with a stack of vinyl and a specially cut dubplate featuring soundbites from local scene characters. A few selectors will also be on hand to show us how it’s done, including Big Roy (Sir Jay), Bagga Brown (Raiders 32), Conroy (Alpha & Omega), Soljie (Qualitex), Froggy (Excalibur) and Daddy Roots (I Roots).

The project also includes live music at the Roots Revival Showcase on June 27, featuring old school sounds from Sir Bastian, Enterprise Imperial HiFi and Jah Lokko, and even a kids’ picture book, The Sonar System by Ras Mykha, to introduce budding dubheads to sound system culture.

The exhibition is part of a national tour documenting reggae sound system culture in Britain, which launched in Huddersfield in 2013 and is set to continue in Birmingham in August and London in February 2016.

It’s on from June 8 to July 17 in The Glass Room at Colston Hall – find out more on Facebook and Tumblr.

For more reggae on FACT, check out David Katz’s invaluable guides to Bob Marley and the Wailers and Augustus Pablo.

Alpha & Omega sound system, St Pauls Carnival, July 1991
Photograph by: Mark Simmons


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