VIDEO: Reggae's future safe says David Rodigan

VIDEO: Reggae's future safe says David Rodigan

BY RICHARD JOHNSON Observer senior reporter

Friday, January 24, 2014

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VETERAN British broadcaster David Rodigan is a picture of concentration as he sits inside the control booth at Tuff Gong Studios in St Andrew.

Tarrus Riley and his Black Soil Band are in the midst of a recording. The band strikes the opening chords and Rodigan becomes animated.

His feet tap in time with the drums, his head bobs, then a smile begins to form, growing into a wide grin. Rodigan's eyes light up, and then he leaps into the air, flashes his fingers and shouts, "Him Baaad!" capturing every nuance of the Jamaican dialect.

Rodigan and a crew from UK radio stations BBC 1 and BBC Xtra are in the island recording an exposé on the Jamaican music scene. The programme, to be aired on Sunday, is a five-hour marathon, from 7:00 pm to midnight.

It covers three perspectives of the local music -- roots and culture, dancehall and the work of outstanding producers.

The roots and culture segment will be hosted by Rodigan, who is synonymous with reggae in the United Kingdom.

The 63-year-old Rodigan told Splash that the track played by Riley's band brought back a flood of memories as it is based on an old Studio One riddim. He remembers the original track, which he bought many years ago at Peckins -- a record store in west London which only sold Studio One recordings.

This was back in the 1960s, the age when Rodigan first got hooked on Jamaican music. He made his first trip to the island in 1979 and saw that visit as a pilgrimage.

"When I first came here, in '79, I visited all the major studios. Channel One, Harry J's, King Tubby's, Prince Buster... these were the places to visit if you were a lover of the music. After this trip I truly caught the reggae fever for which there is no known antidote."

He expressed confidence in the future of reggae, noting that over the past two years he has witnessed a wave of new acts who have impressed him. Topping his list is roots-reggae act Chronixx.

"We are all excited by what Chronixx, is doing. He caused a wave of interest in Europe because he's young, fresh and original. Apart from Chronixx there is the Pentateuch band, Raging Fyah, Kabaka Pyramid, Jah9 who is an amazing talent. Protoje's second album with Don Corleone has some amazing stuff and Jah Bouks," Rodigan noted.

He added Damian Marley and Jah Cure to his list of favourite young acts.

It has been over one year since the broadcaster has been at the BBC, having ended a 22-year relationship with Kiss FM in 2012.

He is enjoying himself at BBC 1 where he hosts a Sunday evening show.

"It has been an amazing experience. They welcomed me with open arms. I am grateful to have been given this opportunity again," Rodigan said.

"I have truly come full circle, having started at the BBC back in 1978. What more could a broadcaster ask for?" asked Rodigan, who is also set to release a three-CD box set entitled Masterpiece, which he describes as the soundtrack of his life.


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