Monday, April 13, 2009

Wackie's Rises Again in the Bronx!

The New York Times is not known for keeping particularly close tabs on musical subcultures or trends, but every once in awhile they publish a nugget of an article like this: reggae producer Lloyd "Bullwackie" Barnes, who established one of the first US-based reggae labels in the Bronx--Wackie's-- in the early 70s (and worked with such reggae artists as Horace Andy, The Mediations, Stranger Cole, Sugar Minott, and Leroy Sibbles), has re-opened his studio and plans to start releasing new titles soon.

Here are some choice paragraphs from the article:
Mr. Barnes was raised in a crime-ridden neighborhood in Kingston, Jamaica, called Trenchtown, considered the cradle of reggae. As a teenager, he regularly attended ska shows and dub concerts where D.J.’s, known as sound system men, traveled from party to party, spinning records, which they punctuated with signature sound effects.

Later he befriended the producer Clement Dodd and hung around the legendary Studio One in Kingston, where Bob Marley and the Wailers, the Maytals and Burning Spear all had sessions. “I found a certain peace in the music,” he said. “It’s not always good times, but the music gives you that.”

In 1967, Mr. Barnes emigrated to New York, first to Brooklyn, where his mother lived. “It was a time to meet people of the same heritage, West Indians from all over,” he said, describing the large influx from the Caribbean to the city.

He attended a trade school, learning upholstering, but eventually settled in construction work. Spending his days tying steel for reinforced concrete, at night he would be a D.J., lugging turntables, crates of records and speakers on the subway with friends to gigs in Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx.

“We didn’t have no car then, so we took the train,” he said.
The image of him transporting his sound system around the outer boroughs on the train is just so incredibly representative of New York City in the 1970s--people just did what they had to do to do their thing, even if it was kind of unorthodox, and no one would give you a second glance. And you always caught some weird stuff going down in the subway then. As a kid, I regularly saw this guy who would roll through the subway cars on a makeshift skateboard begging for money--and the freakiest/nightmarish thing about him was that he had nothing below around his belly pelvis, legs, or feet!

No comments: