A 'Grounation' downtown
Jamaica Music Museum organises Sunday lecture series
Mel Cooke, Gleaner Writer
With February being Reggae Month there is no shortage of musical events, but there is one series where the spoken work will take centrestage. The Institute of Jamaica is hosting 'Reggae Grounation 2012' in the lecture hall at its East Street, Kingston, offices on all Sundays in February, the lectures starting at 2:30 p.m.
Today Herbie Miller, curator of the Jamaica Music Museum, speaks on 'Sounds of Plantocracy, Resistance and Freedom in the Music of the Wailers', while next week 'Bob Andy: The Man, The Artist, Discusses Life and Music with Kay Osbourne'.
On February 19 David Brown speaks on 'The Songs of Federation and Jamaican Indepen-dence' and the series closes on February 26 with Dr Dennis Howard speaking on 'Black Ark Miracle in the Hometown Space Odyssey: The Influence of Lee 'Scratch' Perry and Osbourne 'King Tubby' Ruddock on Global Pop Music'.
Last Sunday's symposium on Dennis Brown at Liberty Hall, King Street, was a part of the series and Miller said the choice of venue was specific to the occasion. As for the series as a whole, he said "as a museum your mandate is to do outreach and educate. This discussion is built around Jamaica 50 and Reggae Month. We thought it appropriate to do the series in this time".
source of information
It is also, Miller thinks, an appropriate time for Osbourne to have an on-stage conversation with Bob Andy, as "Bob is a great source of information, he is articulate. He is in the mood to be engaged in conversation". And, he said, Osbourne is also someone whose reservoir of information is worth accessing. Having seen her speak at the launch of last year's Bob Andy Unplugged concert, Miller thought she was the right person to have the public conversation with Andy.
"With her inquisitive mind and knowledge of the music, she can pull out a lot of information that is relevant," Miller said.
In his session, Brown will connect the music of the period with political debates around the referendum on Federation and Independence. Miller calls that lecture groundbreaking, as well as Howard's talk, "because too many of us have down dub as a passing fad, not music that has impacted the world".
As for his lecture, Miller puts the core of the Wailers - Peter Tosh, Bunny Wailer and Bob Marley - in the same category as Americans Paul Robeson and Duke Ellington, "whose consciousness of the past and who we are as a diasporic people coming out of Africa and how we have survived" is outstanding. "They have paid attention to this and channeled it into music," Miller said.
So although it is a celebration of Marley's life, coming a day before his 67th birthday, it is celebratory of the Wailers as a unit.
Admission to the lectures is free, with contribution optional.
The Reggae Month Grounation 2012 series also takes place in the context of efforts to revitalise downtown Kingston. "We want to encourage people, especially uptown people and especially those who work downtown - bankers, lawyers, clerical workers, merchants - to attend. Our whole journey towards redevelopment, the retaking of downtown, is something you all have a stake in and we urge you not to just drive uptown when the day is over," Miller said.
"Please come and help us in this reorganisation of the original city, downtown Kingston."