Monday, 24 February 2014

CULTURE DIARY: Dispatches from the front-lines of contemporary pop culture

SOUND CLASH: A lively discussion on the evolution of Jamaican sound systems and the challenges they still face ranked among the major talking points of last week's leg of Open University seminars put on by the Jamaica Recording Industry Association (JARIA) at the Louise Bennett Garden Theatre in observance of Reggae Month 2014. "We have a campaign that we launched in 2007 called the Preserve and Protect the Music Campaign because we agreed that payola, to a large extent, has damaged the industry," concluded Charles Campbell, JARIA's First Vice President. "There are two things that has hurt sound systems in Jamaica: payola and the Noise Abatement Act. We are well aware of that." To combat these and other issues, Campbell insists that the industry on a whole get its act together. "JARIA has been going from strength to strength, but we are a members organization, driven by membership. So JARIA is only as strong as the industry itself." 

THE SWELL LIFE: At last week's Arts in the Park at Devon House, Inilek Wilmot, in addition to discussing the emergence of his band From the Deep, brought TALLAWAH up to speed on the state of surfing in his neck of the woods and Jamaica by extension. "It's going good but surfing is still a lifestyle thing. So most surfers are into surfing just because of how much fun it is," explains Wilmot, a prize-winning expert on the subject, who along with his brother Icah and other siblings are considered among the most talented wave runners in the region. "It's not primarily a competitive sport; it's primarily a recreational sport. You would consider it in the same category as yoga and other such activities." As for its future locally: "I don't see surfing stopping in Jamaica, once we make an effort to keep it going," Wilmot predicts. "People are still enthusiastic about it. And right now it's as strong as ever."

>> NEW IN BOOKS: A new release from Kei Miller is always cause for (some) celebration. Just in time for Black History Month, the award-winning Jamaican scribe delivers Writing Down the Vision: Essays and Prophecies. Published by Peepal Tree Press, the 160-page effort finds the poet (The Fear of Stones) and novelist (The Last Warner Woman) chronicling experiences, both personal and otherwise, spanning the gamut from religion/spirituality and homophobia to migration and the fine art of making new connections. Order your copy HERE.

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