Held over 3 days in early March The Wee Dub Festival takes Edinburgh by storm, bringing roots, culture, arts, crafts, music, live bands and a whole lotta love to many venues throughout Edinburgh. With Production workshops and showcases throughout the day and musical magic at the night sessions, the tone was set for a dub mania weekend. Arriving at the Mash House for session one, you are greeted at the door by friendly smiley staff who are more than happy to guide you through the entrance to a dubbers paradise. Downstairs the sounds of Ben Jamin are in full flow, skanking crowds and cracking tunes capture a collective vibe. Happy faces and happy hearts are obvious to see as people take to the dance floor for a 5 hour dance sensation … With DJ”s upstairs and Samson Sounds about to take to the stage downstairs, the next hour was sure to be an hour of musical greatness… Within minutes of starting the Samson Sound collective filled up every space on the dance floor, gradually the audience found their positions and let there feet do the talking. With the brass section delivering their reggae beats and the crowd releasing their skanking grooves, I had a smile on my face. This is what all the waiting was about.. Happy people !!!! Upstairs near the bar in The Mash House the DJ”S were pumping out good old classic reggae tunes. With “Shanty Town”, “Stick by Me” by Freddie Macgregor and other great songs the audience were covered in a blanket of reggae madness. Red Hot stuff from Red Hot DJ”S !!!
Escaping from the heat of the Mash House for an hour or so, I ventured down to the La Belle Angele to catch a glimpse of Escape Roots Sound featuring Tom Spirals, there is always one word that comes to mind when I see this set, Awesome !!!! A smooth ska skank was well enjoyed by all who had attended. After small break in the cold crisp Edinburgh air, I took in the set by “Fleck” . Fast , hard hitting and full of tropical energy this is the diversion that creates the mix that the Wee Dub brings to us. Ending the night back at the Mash House “Alpha Steppa” tore down the house , throwing his energy around he captivated the audience with his deep rooted vocals. A fantastic way to end the first instalment of The Wee Dub Festival…..
Saturday at The Liquid Rooms is sure to be a delight… With DJ Scottie Sommerville, Ska Ya Man and Chainska Brassika “live” for 3 hours the place soon filled up. After a smooth warm up set from DJ Scottie Somerville it was time for Ska Ya Man with the mellow Tom Spirals at the helm .. Ska Ya Man , the digital reggae dub collective with a live mix of trumpet, bass, drums, guitar and cool soothing lyrics delivered by Tom Spirals was just what the doctor ordered !!! Dance, skank and spread the loving vibe is what was evident when looking around at the audience… Another well delivered set from the boys from Dumfries and Galloway.. Next up was Chainska Brassika a 8 piece Ska band from South East London that were playing their first gig in Edinburgh and what treat it was for The Wee Dubbers… Guitar, bass, trumpet, saxophone, drums and a well dressed frontman delivered fast, well tuned, crisp skanking beats to a crowd of dancing ska lovers.. Pushing out songs like “Get Some” and “Love The Dub” this is a fun loving show of memorable moments. Great vibration and lively energy is what they brought… Session two was a killer…..
Moving on to Studio 24 for session 3 where Mungo”s Hi Fi Soundsystem and Dreadsquad were awaiting us, the queue began to grow… At points there must have been up too a 80 people waiting to get in, a sure sign it was going to be a busy night.. Downstairs Dubkasm were in full swing, heating up the floor with deep dub classics. At 12.30pm Dreadsquad featuring Blackout Ja hit the stage with a Bang. By now finding space on the dance floor was like finding a needle in a haystack, difficult but not impossible… The substance of Jamaica roots music was plain to see and hear. Pumping out heavy deep soul skunking tunes with the excellent energy from M.C. Blackout Ja the place was moving under a blanket of roots and reggae that was taken on board with all present. Certainly one of the highlights of the Wee Dub so far.. The presence and vibe that Blackout Ja has is intoxicating . The crowd were just loving it….. Upstairs at Studio 24 you had Mighty Oak and Crucial Roots, with the humble hearted Joe spinning some familiar smooth seductive reggae classics. The sessions have been so well planned, with mixing it up to create a fantastic diversion of music. Going from room to room you have this wonderful choice of DJ”S and musical creation that suits all moods (no bad moods thou)…. With Mungo”s Hi Fi and Solo Banton taking us into the wee hours the last chapter of session 3 was going to be powerful.. The main floor was now like a carpet of ants, no visible space left, a sure sign of great night. Mungos and Solo Banton were like a force from outer space, here to show us how its done, and that they did !!!! I am sure at one point the walls of Studio were going to come crumbling down as I could feel the vibrations flowing through the veins of the building . Allowed to play on until 4 am the Wee Dubbers were happy to skank on till the sun came up !!!!
As the final session grows closer it was sure to pack out The Bongo Club even if it was a cold Sunday night. I am sure there were a few tired bodies and legs around on Sunday morning but would that deter the Wee Dubbers, not a chance… With Messenger Sound System in the driving set at the Bongo Club we were introduced to Afrikan Simba , Nick Manasseh & Brother Culture with the iconic legend Aba Shanti. The sound quality was just awesome, tuned and delivered as it always is with such thought and heart. Must have a been a real joy for Nick Manasseh and Brother Culture to have been playing at such a venue with a sound system to match. The tunes that Nick delivered was enhanced with the powerful and direct lyrics of M.C. Brother Culture, the passion and vibe he brings is overwhelming . With mentions of Drive By Shootings and Uzi in his lyrics he gets the mind thinking.. A true well lived approach to real life. The flavour of Messengers deep roots music was sure to produce a brilliant final night at the Wee Dub festival. The long awaited hour came to an end when midnight arrived. Two hours of Aba Shanti were upon us. This legend, icon, master, teacher, Jamaican father of reggae was now unleashing his dynamite set. The atmosphere was uplifting and the sound was electrifying , throwing the crowd into a dance frenzy . This was the place to be for the final Wee Dub session, with one of the oldest original sound systems in Scotland, Messenger gave us a Aba Shanti night to remember. Through connection, talk, love, heart, patience, kindness and friendship , the music brings us all together. We all have a common interest in music and with artists like Aba Shanti we are allowed to feel and live it together. Aba Shanti is a true gem, a precious piece of musical art that has always brought us into his heart through good vibrations . A very happy and content crowd was all I witnessed . Can I dare say it, maybe the best night of the weekends events.. The Wee Dub have done it again. A well executed and delivered festival. It only gets better as the years roll on. A big thank you to Gregory , Chris Astrojazz and all the artists, musicians , DJ”S, crews, M.C.”s, venues, staff and sound systems for a special time under the flag of reggae and dub. Oopps, not forgetting the wonderful people that came out all weekend to support and enjoy The Wee Dub.
Reviewed by Raymondo aka Spud