Cold and wet Brussels seems a long way from the reggae drenched streets of Kingston, Jamaica, but one of the city’s leading venues is going to bring a taste of Trenchtown to Anspach.
The Ancienne Belgique is holding a series of events, ‘Dub Be Good To Me’ about the offshoot of the Caribbean’s more famous export, reggae.
, when Osbourne Ruddock, in his home built recording studio was making some remixes and somehow forgot to add the vocal track to the eccentric mix. This was a popular error and so the remix became the ‘dub’ or double, meaning an extra version often used by local sound systems and DJ’s to show off their own talents by singing, or ‘toasting’ over the records.
Kurt Overbergh, Artistic Director of the AB explained why they were getting back to bass, if not basics. “It all comes down to having the right room,” he says, saying that the venue opened up a new space that they now use for acoustic sets, music lectures and more.
It may seem unusual for a music lover to go to a venue to hear about music, rather than music, but Overbergh has a theory, “Rock and roll music has been around for a few decades now and it’s all been categorised, but even in a small category there is so much music that it’s hard to know where to start.”
He adds, “We’re also in a very fast moving world, and we’re got instant communication, but it’s good to have a space where you can sit down and take time to think about music. We’re trying to do both with our series of events on dub.”
Typifying Overbergh’s approach is the mixture of lectures and concerts. “We’ve got Matthew Veal coming from the States to give a lecture on King Tubby. He’ll be explaining his production methods and playing examples.”
Veal will be giving a primer, an introduction to Tubby and his craft, also giving people a ‘way in’ to the dub sound, explaining enough for people to feel confident about explaining further, and putting the music into context. Veal is professor of ‘Music and African–American Studies’ at Yale university, writer of ‘Dub: soundscapes And Shattered Songs In Jamaican’ Reggae’ a very highly regarded publication.
Earlier, Matthew E White will explain his love for the music, how it inspired him and his founding of a record label and will also talk about producing a dub version of his debut, ‘Big Inner.’
Overbergh stresses that one thing he enjoys, like the audience, is learning new things about music and musicians. He’s also interested in having his ears opened to old and new sounds.
What is he hoping for? “I want people to appreciate that dub has been around for 40 years and hope that they will dig into the dub heritage and listen to the music’s roots.”
The series also shows where the sound has been taken to, with concerts from Tikiman and Mark Ernestus or a night of dub djs at Bozar.
They will also host an evening from Manchester (UK) dubby electronic label, Modern Love. Another evening brings dubstep into Brussels with the slightly mysterious and scary Noisa and Foreign Beggars.
But the main event is the return to Brussels of one of the pioneers of modern music and a man who also brought dub to a new audience, John Lydon. The former Sex Pistol will be bringing Public Image Ltd to the AB.
John Lydon is a huge admirer of dub, “After the Sex Pistols split, “ says Overgergh, “he asked Virgin if he could go to Jamaica and look for artists. We’re so pleased to have him back, dub is a huge part of their sound and the last time they played here they were…” and the promoter gesticulates, looking around for a suitable word, “… just incredible. Fantastic!”
He’s right, they were and the venue is too. No longer a mere concert, they are branching out and trying new things, including listening sessions, where people gather to listen to an album, perhaps a classic, sometimes less well known but musically significant.
It’s a chance not just to hear music, but to listen to it, making new discoveries in old favourites.