Beat Street festival hails pioneers

By Basil Walters
Observer writer

Sunday, February 17, 2019

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Three legends of Jamaican music, who operated businesses on Orange and Charles streets in Kingston, will be honoured February 24 during the Meet Us on Beat Street festival.

They are Clement “Coxson” Dodd, Cecil “Prince Buster” Campbell, and Lee “Scratch” Perry.

The event, to be held on Orange Street from North to Charles streets, is part of Reggae Month celebrations. It is scheduled to begin at 11:00 am, and climaxes with the Dennis Brown Tribute concert on Kingston's Waterfront at 6:00 pm.

Dodd, Buster and Perry are among the most important figures in reggae.

Dodd played a major role in the evolution of Jamaican popular music, from ska to rocksteady and early reggae. He got his start operating sound systems in the 1950s and opened Studio One at Brentford Road in Kingston in 1963.

Dodd died in May 2004. He was awarded the Order of Distinction, in the rank of Commander in October 2007, for service to the Jamaican music industry.

Prince Buster — a protege of Dodd — was one of the first wave of artistes who took ska to Europe. He operated the Voice of The People sound system and record store on Orange Street. He is known for songs including Enjoy Yourself, Hard Man Fe Dead, They Got to Come and Judge Dread.

Buster died in September 2016 at age 78.

Perry is arguably reggae's most influential producer. In 1968, he started his Upsetter Records and the following year scored his first British chart hit with The Return of Django.

The Wailers worked with Perry during the late 1960s, resulting in some of their finest music. Tracks such as Soul Rebel, Duppy Conqueror, 400 Years and Small Axe helped define the roots-reggae explosion of the 1970s.

Perry won the Best Reggae Album Grammy Award in 2003 for Jamaican ET.

Meet Us on Beat Street is staged by Sounds & Pressure Foundation in collaboration with the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment & Sports, the Kingston & St Andrew Municipal Corporation, and Kingston Creative.

Julian “Jingles” Reynolds, chairman of Sounds & Pressure Foundation, said the intention is to capture a cultural and festive atmosphere similar to cities like New Orleans, New York, and London.

“We are striving, with the participation of the Government, local and central, public and private sectors working together for the west Kingston communities, so rich in cultural heritage, to gain economic benefits from cultural tourism,” Reynolds told the Jamaica Observer.

Other features are a Downtown Kingston Music Heritage Tour of Places of Interest, painting of a mural on Orange Street by young artists billed as February Art Walk on Orange Street, organised by Kingston Creative.

Two sound systems, Soultone and Shanghai, will play music of the three producers, and that of Dennis Brown, who lived at “Big Yard” located at 135 Orange Street.

Brown died in July 1999 at age 42.

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