Sad times for music lovers but plenty to celebrate

The way to pay tribute to that which is past is to celebrate and support what we still have, says Dave Randall, bidding farewell to an inspiration and an institution that will both be sorely missed in Brixton

Jake Black aka The Very Reverend D. Wayne Love

Though the festival season is in full flow and musical treats abound, this is a sad time for some Brixton music lovers.

Last month we learned of the death on 21 May of Jake Black – aka The Very Reverend D. Wayne Love – one of the founder members of Brixton-based country, blues, soul and acid-house alchemists Alabama 3.

This statement was posted on the band’s Facebook page:

“Early this afternoon, on a beautiful summer’s day, our friend, comrade and spiritual teacher, Jake Black AKA The Very Reverend D.Wayne Love, passed over to the higher ground.

“After a magnificent performance at the Highpoint Festival in Lancashire, D.Wayne in his supreme wisdom, decided it was the appropriate moment for his ascension into the next level. The transition was painless and peaceful. He was surrounded by brothers Larry Love, L.B. Dope, The Spirit, Jonny Jamm and Sister Therese Mullan.

“We are heartbroken. All that remains for us, at this moment, is to carry out his precise instructions regarding the continuation of his teachings as a First Minister of The Presleyterian Church of Elvis The Divine, and continue The Great Work. His last words, which we have yet to decipher, were “Tweet Tweet, Possil Fleet”.

The Alabama 3 perform at the JAMM
The Alabama 3 perform at the JAMM

Alabama 3 reached a global audience when their song Woke Up This Morning was chosen as the theme to hit US TV series The Sopranos.

It was taken from the band’s 1997 debut Exile on Coldharbour Lane and it is from that iconic Brixton street that our second sad news item comes – the closure of Club 414. For 30 years the club hosted hedonistic all-night raves, epic parties, charity events and more recently regular live music nights.

Club 414 proprietors Louise Barron and Tony Pommell

Independent, friendly, fun-loving, community minded and more than a little subversive, Club 414 represented many of the attributes we love about Brixton.

It will be missed. One way to pay tribute to the people and places passed is to continue in their spirit and celebrate and support those still with us.

So if these sad events or simply the state of the world have got you down, then why not start to coax back the summertime vibes with some soul soothing good times. The Lambeth Country Show can lay claim to a particularly pleasing soul soothing combination: roots reggae, Chucklehead cider and a lookalike vegetable competition. Genius.

Acts this year include reggae legends Dawn Penn, General Levy, Dennis Alcapone and the Twinkle Brothers. It’s London’s biggest and best free family festival and it takes place in Brockwell Park on 20 and 21 July.

In the meantime get your fix of roots and culture with the Sisters of Reggae who continue their Pop Brixton residency on Friday 14 June. Expect ska, rocksteady, roots, revival reggae, rub-a-dub, lover’s rock and early digital. 100% vinyl, 100% niceness and free admission to boot. And on any Thursday drop into the Hootananny where, for 10 years now, the fantastic Cecil Reuben and his Jah Revelation Muzik Sound System have been delivering the finest heavyweight bass and choice live acts.

As Bob Marley put it: One Love, One Heart, let’s get together and feel alright

Dave Randall is a musician and author of Sound System: The Political Power of Music.