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New Exhibition Explores Reggae Sound System Culture

‘Sound System Culture: Bristol’ exhibition celebrating sound system culture will open next month.

Following the success of last year’s ‘Sound System Culture: Huddersfield‘, curators Al “Fingers” Newman and Mandeep Samra are bringing a new photographic exhibition to Bristol celebrating the city’s history of reggae sound systems from the 1950s to present day.

‘Sound System Culture: Bristol’ documents an important, but sadly overlooked, part of the UK’s music culture through photographs, audio archives and film footage. Visitors can also interact with Heritage HiFi, a vintage-style sound system specially built for the exhibition, kitted out with a record deck, amps, speakers and exclusive records. The free event forms part of the Sound System Culture national tour, which will also visit Birmingham later this summer and London early next year.

The project includes a children’s picture book ‘The Sonar System’ by Ras Mykha introducing young people to world of sound system culture, and  a live event Roots Revival Showcase on 27th June featuring Bristol’s own Sir Bastian, Enterprise Imperial HiFi and Jah Lokko. See a selection of images from the exhibition below…

1. Karl Sebastian Smith with his Bamboo Club membership card, dated 30 December 1966. Photo © Al _Fingers_ Newman

 Foundation Bristol soundman, Karl “Sebastian” Smith,  with his 1966 membership card for the Bamboo club, one of the UK’s first clubs to serve the West Indian community. Photo © Al “Fingers” Newman.

2. Flyer - Leroy Smart, Count Shelly, Hanks HiFi, Bamboo Club, 25 Feb 1977, courtesy Donovan Jackson collection

Flyer for a Leroy Smart concert at the Bamboo Club, 25th February 1977. Courtesy Donovan Jackson collection.

3. Enterprise Imperial HiFi sound system and friends, circa 1977

Enterprise Imperial HiFi and friends, circa 1977. Founded in 1975, Enterprise became one of Bristol’s most popular sound systems. Photographer unknown, courtesy Michael House collection.

4. Lionpulse sound system, one of Bristol's recent sound systems

Lionpulse sound system, founded in 2013 by General H and Live&Direk – part of a new wave of Bristol sounds. Photo © Gary Thomas.

5. Alpha & Omega sound system, St Pauls Carnival, July 1991. Photo © Mark Simmons Photographyjpg

Alpha & Omega sound system on St Nicholas Road by the Crystal Dove night club, St Pauls Carnival, July 1991. Photo © Mark Simmons Photography.

8. Heritage HiFi, built for Sound System Culture project. Photo © Elliot Baxter

Heritage HiFi sound system, built for the Sound System Culture project by Paul Axis (Huddersfield). Photo © Elliot Baxter.

‘Sound System Culture: Bristol’ will be held at Glass Room, Colston Hall BS1 5AR from 8th June to 17th July. Follow the project’s Tumblr and find out more on the Colston Hall website.