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News & Events

What happened at Notting Hill Carnival 2010?

09 September 2010

I have been going to Carnival with Gladdy since 1998 and I must say that this was the most electrifying session yet. Carnival gets a bad press. It is often seen as an intrusion into residents' lives (many move out for three days) and it has a reputation for violence, mugging, steaming and drunken carousing. For us carnival is something quite different. It is almost a holy time, a time when we celebrate something which we cannot put into words. Something about music and people. When I look up and see the Tighten Up crew turning up with their fine tunes I know the session is fully under way. Gladdy will have laid down some great instrumentals and some tough roots for a couple of hours by then and we are starting to get into party mood. Each tune represents something. For the selector they evoke a time or fit a particular mood of the time. Reggae is so diverse. There are so many feelings to choose from. Each feeling reflects the time when the tune was first heard and it may become a special moment when someone else hears it for the fist time. We acquire them and then they become friends, cogs in our psyche.

It is often said that selecting is an art and Gladdy is a known master. I particularly liked his 'latest tunes' session this year. The old styles of roots and Ska are at his finger tips but he is dedicated to all reggae the latest being as important as classic revives. This is what makes for a great show. It is a journey and if you stay all the way, he takes you on a journey through his life. This year I don't think I heard a mis-selection. Every tune I heard seemed to fit, to raise the temperature a bit more. I love the people we attract to the sound from the very young to those much more advanced in years. Everyone seemed to have a smile this year; to be fully engaged because we were fully engaged. We were fortunate to have a great mike man with us: Constant Jammin is an old time toaster. There is no better Ska toaster but he can work with any tune. The key is that he never obliterates the tune, rather compliments and enhances it with subtle vocal nuances. Each utterance is in response to the musical quality of the record. He truly respects the singers and players. Then, we have our old friends Champion and Clapper Priest who come with the early dance hall approach. This juxtaposition of styles created a veritable excitement in the crowed, a palpable sense that something truly great was happening on this sound.  Check some sessions out on these Youtube links:

Constant Jammin sharing the mike with other DJ's in the crowd

I constantly observed those passing through being captured by the sound and hanging around a while. No, there was no sense of this being a place of drunken, violent provocation, rather an oasis of peace and love. A place of contemplation, meditation, a place to be captured by the spirit of the soundsystem, somewhere to have fun and dance. There are many old timers who talk about back in the day. Well I argue that this is the day. The Gladdy Wax sound represents a true expression of a community orientated sound in this time. Not in some golden age far off in the past. People come from all over the world to be with us. We cater for the traditional sound lover, the dance hall massive, the old skin head, the young seeking a diversion from the grime, the hip-hop and jump up. Every year we welcome back people who have been standing along side us for years. People never want us to finish at seven and this year it was almost impossible for the police to get to the sound to tell us to turn it off. Putting the sound away always is a hard thing requiring dedication. It weighs tones and the myriad of wires and equipment have to be cajoled back into the truck and all we can think about is that the next big session is a year away. We look forward to welcoming the Gladdy Wax family again in 2011. Come an join us an have some fun. Respect to all those who made 2010 such a vintage year.


Thanks to Charlie Warde for the photos.

Steve from Tighten Up makes some vibes

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