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Rebel Music: Sound System Culture and the Story of Blues Parties in Southampton

An exhibition devised by Don John

19 October - 20 December 2019

11am-4pm Tuesday to Saturday
Access via Artisan Cafe off Guildhall Square

Painting of a Jamaican man by the artist, Gerard Hanson

Image credit: Gerard Hudson

Showcase Gallery is proud to present a new exhibition that explores the extraordinary story of the 'shebeens' or 'blues' clubs that were a key part of Southampton's music scene in the 70s and 80s. Bringing together new artwork, old images and found footage, the exhibition will creatively explore why these sound systems emerged in the city and the impact of Jamaican music on British culture.

Artist Gerard Hudson will be creating new work especially for the exhibition, together with archive material and footage.

People with memories to share are invited to contribute images or stories to help tell the Southampton story.

Special opening event - 18 October 2019

6pm - Drinks at Showcase Gallery
7pm - Film screening of Bass Culture by Mykaell Riley at Showcase Gallery
9pm - Blues party with MAKA Sound System at Belgium and Blues

There will be a special opening of the exhibition at 6pm, followed by a screening of the renowned film Bass Culture by Mykaell Riley that explores music from the 60s to the present day and the profound ways in which Jamaican music remade popular music in Britain.

After the film, we will be entertained by MAKA Foundation - one of the original sound systems from Southampton at Belgium & Blues, from 9pm until late. Belgium & Blues is situated closed to the Showcase Gallery and is an independently-run bar with great craft beers.

About the shebeens

In the 60s, 70s and 80s, West Indian communities, who were regularly denied entry to clubs in the city, organised their own entertainment by having house parties where they could listen to music they loved without the aggravation they received in public places. Some house parties developed into illegal drinking houses that were also known as 'blues' and 'shebeens' - and sound systems were an essential ingredient.

Sound systems now occupy a unique place in the early history of migrants from the Caribbean who carved out a little piece of their history in an environment that was sometimes cold and hostile.

About the artist

Gerard Hanson was born in Bradford of Jamaican and Irish parents and much of his art explores his heritage and identity. Working with Don John and using oral history, archives and visiting sites of pubs and clubs long since closed, Gerard will be creatively exploring the reasons why the shebeens cam about and their impact on the city.

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