It was a long time ago…when clubs in Cyprus shunned anything different for homogenized musical trash pumped out of the major record companies from Greece. This phase had many names. ‘Ellinadika’ ‘Mbarakia’ ‘Face Control’ of simpy ‘Ellinika’ and it began in the early 1990′s. Not to say that there was no alternatives, places like ‘Africana’ where a young DJ Spike began beat mixing on the decks (he was 13 at the time); and DK Xenios aka Med Dred, Grizzly and DJ Larry. Many of these people came from the diaspora, their parents having returned to Cyprus from far off places like London, Toronto or New York. Or they were students, like Grizzly, who hailed from Jamaica, studying in Cyprus. Many of these people, along with the Mystery Lady playing rare grooves and ragga daily were on or associated with a small local station in Nicosia called Radio 1. But these more scene based DJ’s, who spun mainly soul, r & b, hip hop and reggae soon found themselves squeezed out by the homogenized ‘Ellinadika’. This meant, with possibly one exception the short-lived ’911′ club in Makedonitissa, where DJ Spike resided on the decks, almost everywhere else was Greek pop, played usually by DJ’s who I used to see as kasapies – butchers. They all had the same formula, the same play list and would cut tunes after about 1 min 30 seconds. I found this boring, annoying and an insult to all the people who had made them.
Living in these times as a DJ it was hard to get a night playing reggae, soul or anything different. So in 1993 we began a movement of sorts which I would label as ‘Sundays’. Why Sundays? Well this was the one night when club owners would allow you to play anything different. I was used to Sunday sessions from London. Classic club culture events like Gilles Peterson and Patrick Forge @ Dingwalls – an event which still happens even today…
The ‘Sunday’ vibe in Nicosia started at places like ‘Tahiti’ with ‘The Mystery Lady’ and myself spinning vinyls and CD’s. And the night was a success primarily because we played the music no one else dared to play, in other words we dared to be different. There was something radical in it for us. That vibe of being different, of rejecting the drivel of every Sakis, Makis and Annoulla, who had Greek hits at that time. A lot of people didn’t get it…going out raving on a Sunday night…but we did…and loved it…
Now I know things have changed radically, there are more clubs, DJ’s and a hell of a lot more diversity today musically…But I miss that ‘Sunday’ vibe, that choice of being decidedly different. So this autumn I am starting something completely different. It’s a musical event that I see more as a cultural happening and where best to have it than Scarabeo. Why Scarabeo, well there are lots of reasons. First its a place that develops and nurtures culture, and enables artists and DJ’s to survive, which is very difficult in these times of crisis. It’s also has a homely vibe to it. You feel like you are walking into some one’s living room. So I like Scarabeo…period!
So from 14th Oct – 8th Dec every 2 weeks, on a Sunday I will be doing an event called ‘Sunday Skool’ . The philosophy is as I said to be totally different. The night does not have a specific kind of music, just a collection of different music accompanied by films and documentaries that are important landmarks to all these genres. Here’s a rundown of what will happen….
“ROCKERS” OCTOBER 14TH
“Rockers” is undoubtedly one of the best movies ever made in Jamaica on and about the daily hardships of being a Reggae musician. All the characters except one are well-known musicians, including Leroy ‘Horsemouth’ Wallace (who plays the lead role), the late Gregory Isaacs, Robbie Shakespeare, Big Youth, Kiddus I, The Mighty Diamonds, and Burning Spear. “Rockers” was made on a shoe-string budget by Greek film maker Theodoros Bafaloukas in 1978. Despite its massive cult popularity among reggae audiences, the director never made a cent out of it due to costs and rising budgets. It remains to this day one of the most accurate depictions of life in the Jamaican ghetto in the late 1970’s. Key to the film is the idea that the poor who are cheated, conned and robbed by the rich, will one day rise up and rightfully reclaim all that is theirs. “Rockers” also includes one of the best soundtracks in popular music history with singers and players just being themselves in studio sessions, live concerts and a very special appearance at night on the shore, acapella from the mighty Burning Spear. For more information click here for an in-depth interview with Theodoros Bafaloukas
“REBETIKA MUSIC OF THE OUTSIDERS” OCTOBER 28TH
“Rebetika – The Music of the Outsiders” was researched by the late Lysandros Pitharas, who is well-known in the London Cypriot Community as a columnist /writer for ‘City Limits’ and a poet. Lysandros spent several months in the mid-1980’s carrying out research in Athens on Rebetika where he tried to find some of the living legends of the music. This was not an easy task as many first generation artists had passed away, and some were difficult to approach, and hard to find, mainly because of how they had been ripped off by the music companies in Greece. The documentary includes interviews with Mouflouzelis, Bakalis, Stelios Vamvakaris, Genitsaris and Dalaras. It is a very significant piece of music documentary as it was the first time any one had ever made such an in-depth analysis of Rebetika in English. The music explores the history and heartbeat of Rebetika and remains a very special documentary even to this day.
HAJI MIKE & DUB CARAVAN NOVEMBER 11TH
“Nomadic Fusions in a Virtual Oasis”- Haji Mike & Dub Caravan have been making music together for the last 3 years. Their initial contact came through mutual friends and musical experiences on the internet. This led to writing 3 tunes which eventually became a DCLP release in 2010, called ‘Virtual Oasis’ for which several video clips were made. The uniqueness of the release was that it was created entirely online, without the two ever meeting. Haji Mike then arranged for a tour of Cyprus, in the summer of 2010, when the two, dub poet and music producer finally met in person. This kind of online virtual writing experience is common today through the internet and for many people it represent a new era of virtual internet based studios and collaborations. Haji Mike also presented a paper on this experience at The Art of Record Production Conference, Leeds 2010, which can also be accessed online here On the night they will be sharing their video clips, discussing how they work together online and performing songs from ‘Virtual Oasis’ and Dub Caravan’s solo work ‘Nomadic Fusions, as well as some new material made recently.
“YOUNG SOUL REBELS” SPECIAL NOVEMBER 25TH
“Young Soul Rebels” (1991) is a movie made about London in the turbulent late 1970’s cast against the background of the Silver Jubilee. Two friends ‘Caz’ and ‘Chris’ run a pirate radio station in East London and they are trying to promote soul music during the peak and fashion of punk rock. One of their friends has been brutally murdered and ‘Chris’ is implicated in the murder because he has some taped evidence which he did not give to the police because he feared he would be the prime suspect. The movie cuts across a variety of issues including race, class and sexuality in a bitter- sweet way. It features Valentine Nonyela, an acclaimed actor who is now based in Paphos, Cyprus. Valentine will be joining us for a discussion about the movie on this night. “Young Soul Rebels” was Isaac Julien’s breakthrough film as a director which won the 1991 Critics Week Prize at Cannes and it remains as exciting as ever today. Full review can be found here
“BLACK WAX” GIL SCOTT-HERON TRIBUTE DECEMBER 8TH
“Black Wax” Gil Scott-Heron documentary. The first season of ‘Sunday Skool’ at Scarabeo ends on this date with a very special film made about a very special jazz/blues poet, who sadly passed away in 2011. Gil Scott-Heron is often called the ‘godfather’ of rap music – the poet who paved the way for many MC’s to take to the microphone. His spoken word poems became set to music in the late 1960’s when he was a student. Initially his first LP, with co-writing partner Brian Jackson was released on the Flying Dutchman, a label known for its jazz releases. Gil’s poems became anthems against oppression in South Africa under apartheid ‘Johannesburg’, and rallying calls for people to think about the times they were living in – ‘H20 Gate Blues’ and ‘Re-Ron’ . The documentary is set in the Wax Museum nightclub in Washington and features Gil Scott-Heron live and at his peak. In between songs he questions the hypocrisy and irony of US society as he wanders through Washington DC ghetto neighbourhoods and national monuments. This will also be an open mic night for poets to take to the stage and dare to share their ideas…Full review of “Black Wax” here
Sunday Skool starts from 8pm…admission €3…screenings and discussion 8.30 – 10.30 after which music starts with Haji Mike & guests…For more details call 96 696669 www.scarabeoisland.com