Brixton is home to many interesting and inspiring people from all over the world so it is no wonder that the area’s nightlife reflects the mix. The Blog’s resident reggae expert Francis Clarke caught up with David Katz, official biographer of Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry and the mastermind of Brixton’s longest running reggae night, to find out more
“I was born in San Francisco and grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. I spent a lot of time going back and forth across the Golden Gate Bridge, following my parents’ divorce.
I came to London as a teenager in 1983 during a ‘gap year’ and stayed for a few months, which was mind-blowing. I finally found a way to return in 1987, to do the last term of my BA in English Lit, and once here, things happened very fast… so I have been based here ever since.
I first came to Brixton in 1983 to attend events at what was then the Ace (later the Fridge, now the Electric Brixton). There were other events happening at the Crypt and upstairs at St Matthews Church, as well as other ‘blues dance’ type venues, in the basement of a block of flats, etc. I spent time in the market too and got to know people in the area. In the late 1980s, a lot of friends lived there, some of whom still do.
It has always been about the people, the music, the general vibe and the culture. I’ve made good friends here and bought a lot of good records too. And when people come to visit from the USA, they are always blown away by Brixton.
I don’t live in Brixton, I live two neighbourhoods away, but I’ve spent plenty of nights in Brixton and I still buy most of my groceries here. Anyway for me, the best thing about Brixton is that it is truly multicultural. There are communities here from all over the world, some of whom have been here for several decades. The worst thing right now is that the place has become overrun with yuppie thrill seekers, though at least there is less of a problem with crackheads than there used to be.
There can never be just one favourite moment in music, there are too many to mention! On a personal level, experiencing Jack Ruby’s sound system in San Francisco on July 31, 1982 was a pivotal moment but in a more general sense, the birth of dub in Jamaica in late 1968 might constitute a ‘favourite moment in music’.
Top 5 all-time great songs I love:
Everyone is invited to my Dub Me Always night, Upstairs at the Ritzy, which takes place the second Wednesday of each month, 8-11pm, free entry. It’s a strictly vinyl affair and I play everything from ska to roots, dub and beyond, including rare and unreleased material from reggae’s golden age.
The next event Dub Me Always take place this Wednesday, 9th May. Featuring the Soothsayers Horns live on stage.