A full serving of heavyweight bass and Jamaican Sound System culture is coming to Richmond this summer. On July 24, the Denver-based DJ crews behind massive sound systems Dem Deya and Pomegranate Sounds will touch down in Richmond to introduce their massive, hand-built rigs and spin a selection of traditional reggae, roots, dancehall, and dub. On vinyl, of course.
A bit of history: If you have a taste for colossal sound systems and weighty low-end music, you have Jamaican Sound system culture to thank. While mammoth sound rigs are now a mainstay in esteemed electronic music clubs across the world, the towering stacks of speakers and amps are deeply rooted in Jamaican popular culture.
In the 1940s and 50s, DJs, and MCs on the island would load up trucks with turntables and massive speaker systems, throwing street parties and merging American R&B music with traditional Jamaican sounds.
The culture popped off, and the evolution of ska music, and then reggae, was underway. Soon, sound engineers went to work creating mammoth sound systems to be used in community-wide “sound battles.” And as Jamaicans immigrated to the UK en masse in the 1960’s and 1970’s, the culture became an integral part of the country’s underground music scenes and influenced the development of dub, jungle, garage, and drum and bass.
The crews behind Dem Deya and Pomegranate are on a mission to bring sound system culture back to its Jamaican genesis, partnering with Richmond organizations SPREAD and Party Liberation Foundation to provide a full afternoon and evening of reverberating reggae and roots music at Northside’s RVA Createspace.
Local Richmond vendors 1115 Mobile Kitchen and The Retox Bar will be on site dolling out fried vegan snacks, Southern chicken sandwiches, and fresh-pressed juice beverages.
“When you want to talk about the main brain of our sound system, I guarantee you, this is something that no one in America necessarily has,” says Darrien Williamson, who co-built Dem Deya and DJs under the name Scarien. “When it comes to these dub plates, you’ll be able to hear them, but you’ll only hear them with our sound system or from people in my crew.”
Want in on this historic sonic experience? Head to Pom Deya at Createspace, located at 607 Wickham St, tomorrow starting at 2 PM and running all the way until midnight. $20 gets you in the door. Check the details on the flyer above, or click here for more info.