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Local Dub Club at the Grain Bar

Alan King Abhaya of the JoyAndHarmony Sound System runs a monthly Dub Club at the Grain Bar at the Cheese and Grain. Entry is free, and the next event is on Sunday 8th February, the weekend of Bob Marley’s 70th birthday.

Alan King Abhaya gives more information on the dub nights to be held at the Cheese.

Can you define what dub is?

“Dub began as the instrumental versions of Roots Reggae tunes. Pioneers in Jamaica such as King Tubby made this more than just the ‘B-side’ of a record, by enhancing the bass and drums and adding effects and echoes – an early kind of remix. This style became popular with reggae soundsystems as the DJ could flip the record over and sing or toast over the rhythm.

“So Dub is really the Great-Granddaddy of many types of dance music! Some people just love the heavy bass-lines but it must also be said that Dub is the music of Rastafari, and is really a spiritual experience for many of us.”

How long have you been involved with this kind of music? 

“I was lucky to grow up around it – my older brother and sister loved reggae. They were friends with Messenjah Soundsystem in Swindon, one of the Southwest’s Foundation soundsystems. Messenjah always played for free – they would say, ‘We don’t come to please or entertain –Strictly Jah works!’

“This philosophy has rubbed off on me as I see a Dub Dance as more than just a party. It is an opportunity to come together to share our truth and build a better future together. Reggae deals with serious issues, but always in a positive and optimistic way. ‘Better days are coming…’

“I played my first Soundsystem in a kitchen in Hull in 1997 and then progressed to playing at squat parties and road protests! Most recently I was running the CoOperation Dub Club in Bath, but moving to this wonderful town, I felt I wanted to create a Dub scene with and for the people of Frome.”

What are some stand-out dub/reggae artists who have made an impression on you? 

“Bob Marley is undoubtedly the biggest inspiration in my life. Never think of Bob as too mainstream or too obvious to play on a soundsystem! His songs always get an amazing reaction when played at some of the biggest dances in the country. This is why we will celebrate his life and music at the next Frome Dub Club, just two days after his 70th Earthday.

“Jah Shaka has been the inspiration for most Dub Soundsystems for the last four decades. He was one of the pioneers of UK Roots Soundsystems, and is still the greatest.

“In the 1980s when Dancehall reggae with rude or aggressive lyrics became popular, Jah Shaka continued to play conscious, spiritual music, always giving thanks and praises to Jah Rastafari.

“I am also a big fan of Macka B from Wolverhampton. He managed to fuse Dancehall rhythms with conscious lyrics, conveying the spiritual and political message of Rastafari, but always with a great sense of humour.”

What are your plans for the dub nights at the Grain Bar? 

“We are hoping to run the Frome Dub Club on the second Sunday of every month, whenever possible. We start the dance quite early in the afternoon so that families can come down together.

“It has been great to see lots of young children dancing alongside people in their 70s! (Although I have to remember to keep the volume down a bit until the kids leave!)

“That is really the spirit of the Dub Club – that ALL are welcome. We eat together, dance together, sing together, cry together.

“The Café at The Grain will provide great food and soft drinks for those who don’t want the awesome beer from Milk Street. Avalon Roots will be playing live on 8th March, and in April I will launch Frome’s own Dub Soundsystem – Joy And Harmony.

“In Peace and Love.” Alan King Abhaya.