Birmingham’s musical heritage may be ridiculously varied but whatever else comes and goes, there will always be a place for a reggae here. With each new generation bringing a fresh crop of innovators and trendsetters, it’s hardly surprising that eventually an event came along called Reggae City. With tomorrow’s all-nighter featuring legends such as Macka B and the jungle DJ Aries, we decided to have a chat with organiser Christine Dent to find out more.
What was the inspiration behind the original event and can you tell me a little bit about it’s history?
Reggae City has been through some ups and downs since the first event in 2011. Back then we (Jon, Dan & Kambe, of Shambala infammy and Jibbering Records roots) were approached by a private backer to curate and produce a Reggae event. We suggested the name, wanted the event to be contemporary and involve the range of music now influenced by roots reggae, and also be conscious, ital and sustainable.
The first three years were amazing. The line ups were off the scale, but we suffered in regards to ticket sales. We did warn that events in Birmingham were tricky, maybe even different to any other city. We advised that we would take more of a slow burn route with cheaper tickets available, but no, all out aggressive growth opportunity was the desire from the investor. The marketing was out of our hands and could have been better, but from experience no matter how many headline names you put down, until an event gathers momentum in this town it can be a hard sell.
After the first 3 years it was nearly dead in the water – no backers, no venue, no budget. We weren’t willing to let the first 3 years go to waste and still really want to support the scene we love. After protracted wranglings we argued for the rights to continue with the brand and produced Reggae City “The Local Takeover” last year, last minute…Alfie Birds backed us in terms of venue costs, many of you and your friends turned out to do their bit and we threw a solid FREE party!
How do you choose the acts? Do you only book acts from Birmingham?
Following the “The Local Takeover” last year we have taken steps forward by creating a line up of acts from Birmingham to continue the celebration of local talent, but also inviting a few acts from further afield to join in such as the Kayanites, Evermoor Sound and Rootical. Our idea is that each year we will invite acts and sound systems from other scenese to come and play our event to help build a wider community.
After this event, what’s next for Reggae City?
After this Reggae City we hope to build on the event (which happens yearly) and welcome other promoters to be more involved and give artists the chance to step forward and have a say in how the event will be run. So in essence it is an event for the people of Reggae City, by the people of Reggae City.
Reggae City is live at Alfie Birds, October 9, £5 via theticketsellers