Dread At The Controls – DBC Radio

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As a child growing up in the Ladbroke Grove area (Notting Hill), one of my earliest memories of the music scene, besides my father’s need to glorify the bass of The Mighty Diamonds every Sunday morning, was DBC radio. Being influenced as a child by their presence on Portobello Road every Saturday morning, I had to attribute a large part of my ongoing love for music to those earlier experiences. It was only natural that Urban Dandy, an authentic voice for the Grove’s past, present and future, should eventually catch up with the man who pioneered such an influential station…

The architect of the revolutionary radio show, posse and collective: After sitting in The Tabernacle for a short while, Lepke arrived ready to lay down the station’s rich history. Unfortunately for me, time wasn’t on our side. Lepke told me he had about half an hour so, I got my Magnus Magnusson on. So, Lepke, you have 30 minutes on the story of DBC Radio starting …now.

UDL- What does DBC stand for?

Lepke- DBC stands for Dread Broadcasting Corporation. It’s a pun on the BBC. It was a friend of mine called William who came up with it but it was originally called Rebel Radio.

UDL- Okay, and when did DBC start, who’s idea was it?

Lepke- I started it on my own then my sister and a few of my close friends came on board. I was on my own for six or seven months then a friend called Douglas, aka DJ Chucky, came on for a few months, then a third DJ called Lloyd Rainford, or Doctor Watts, came in. He knew how to build amplifiers and he set up the system. Then we kept adding people and varying the music, it was reggae at the start then went to Soca and then Jazz, original music really and of course then Hip Hop and Funk. You couldn’t get that music on the radio, you might hear a bit, maybe a little on Radio One but no Soca and hardly any Jazz. Hip Hop was breaking through at the time. The first Hip Hop show was with The Rapologists: Early Daze and Flakey C, then Neneh Cherry came in.

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UDL- I read online that DBC was the first black pirate radio show.

Lepke- It was the first black radio station owned by black people in Europe. As far as I know there was no other black-owned, black music radio station in Europe. There were stations playing black music but not owned by black people.

UDL- Did you guys have a presence at Carnival as well?

Lepke- Yes. I went to the first carnival as a kid. Later on, I had a spot by Ronnie Biggs (on Portobello Road) in the 70s, then later I got a spot outside Honest Johns record shop, he handed me the keys. Then we had a spot by the print shop opposite Honest Johns. As far as we know that was also the first live broadcast in the carnival. That was when Wilf Walker used to run the carnival. Any time major artists would come through like Bunny Wailer, The Mighty Diamonds, Burning Spear…he’d put us on the show so we got well promoted. The flyer would say DBC on it, through that he’d give us control of the stages.

 

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In scrubs one time they had a super tent run by Alex Pascall, Melody Makers was there and Freddie Mcgregor and with me being me, I decided to put it on MW (medium wave), we were still on FM but I hooked it up so that the prisoners at scrubs could tune in too. They couldn’t really hear it from where they were.

I used to try to link the stages up too. There was the Meanwhile Gardens stage, the tent on the Portobello Green, The Tabernacle stage and the Super Tent at Scrubs. We were broadcasting from the Super Tent so we had links to all of the stages. I controlled it from the print shop location on Portobello Road. I’ve still got most of the tapes from 1980 to 1984, I’ve got lots of the tapes. Some have made it onto the internet too. People recorded it so it went abroad.

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UDL- There is a mention of DBC on the New York Zulu Beats Show with Afrika Islam, was there a connection there?

Lepke- I wasn’t aware but the person who was responsible for that was probably Jollie Mcfee. He used to make badges for all the punk groups and he was also on Portobello Road. I used to go see him and one time I saw all these wires under his desk and asked what it was. He told me it was a transmitter but it wasn’t working. I asked him what he wanted for it. So I bought it and he gave me the contact who could fix it. He came to my yard, fixed it and showed me how to rig it up, he used to play Rocker Billy music and he later became a Dj on the show. They used to call them anoraks because they used to always wear anoraks. They would wear anoraks while messing around rigging up in the bushes. In the fields, everyone wore them to shield them from the wind and rain so I also became the first black anorak.

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Leroy Anderson AKA Lepke, at the controls

UDL- How long did you guys reign and when did it end?

Lepke- It ended in ’84 but people think it ended because of a raid, There was a raid but it wasn’t because of that. We joined a group called the Free The Airways Campaign. In between that we still used to play Glastonbury. We were also the first Reggae sound to play an all night Shabeen at Glastonbury and also to broadcast from Glastonbury. So the owner would give us the main stage so we were also the first to do the main stage. We played it with Aswad.

UDL- (I’ve started so I’ll finish). It seems like the area has so many firsts, there’s a strong original energy there.

Lepke- The ley lines.

UDL- Yeah I’ve heard that before.

Lepke- But the reason we stopped was the government told us if we came off the air by a certain date (they gave us a date) then we could apply for a license, most did and it was bullshit. They took my Sister on board. First, she did a guest appearance on radio 1 and then John Peel put in a word his heads to do this. It turned out I was his favourite DJ. I think it was on his 50th birthday they did this surprise for him. They put the decks up brought him in and I jumped up from behind the set and started playing some reggae roots. He was happy.

DBC came in two parts. After the station closed I started JBC. One of the last DJs I brought on, Stanley Burns, also known as The Challenger, asked me why I didn’t continue. I told him that I couldn’t do it in that same name then he told me he had premises so we hooked up and started JBC. I’ve done a lot of others too, I did Grove FM, Globe FM, it had a small transmitter but it went out local. We set up one in St.Lucia too. They named the station Enola because that’s the true name of St. Lucia, after a while, the government gave them a break and they’re still on today. It was such a good transmitter I think they’re still using the same one.

Time’s up. (Stepping out of Mastermind mode)

Well there you have it, as short  as our talk was, If anyone can break down the history of DBC radio and the host of other artists that could attribute part of their success to this early music revolution, it’s Lepke. As you can now see, whether it’s ley lines or just living in the best area on the planet, the Grove is never short of firsts to note. Nowadays we have internet radio, (Portobello Radio in particular) done with an air of safety and exposure in comparison to the days that posed the possibility of the dreaded police (Babylon) raid. We’re hopeful that at some future point we will resume this history lesson with Lepke, but in the meantime you can catch the 80s vibe below.

 

Angel Lewis UDL

Just A Thought

 

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The universe seems to speak in metaphors. I MAY not hold an opiNiOn either WAY, yet I’m a believer in research and since I’ll be busy deCORating.  I will BINd myself to the important task of LABOURing to create a lovely peaceful enviroNment at hOme, while others are out anD abOUBT voting.   🙂

 

 

A.L.

More May = More Prevent Strategy

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Islamist terror in Paris, Islamist terror in London, and there are many factors driving the violence. Theresa May has chosen to tackle the issue with a consciously narrow programme called the Prevent Strategy. The government has considered certain factors, but others are not up for discussion. The result has been a decontextualized debate, and a Conservative victory in the polls in June will have implications for communities across the country concerned about the pull of terrorism.

 Basic info on Prevent: http://www.ltai.info/what-is-prevent/

It does not take forensic analysis to know that foreign policy, economics, family breakdown and the housing crisis are among the drivers of the political violence that has taken place in European cities.

Another key factor is that an individual or group eventually decides to commit a violent act. And this is the level at which the Prevent Strategy tackles the issue. As Home Secretary, Prime Minister May oversaw the implementation of Prevent, which provides training to public sector workers on how to spot signs of vulnerability to extremism, works with individuals at risk and provides a counter-narrative to nihilistic, hateful and violent philosophies.

Criticism

Prevent is also very aware of its own vulnerability to criticism, and is keen to have respected Muslim community figures on its side. Systematic promotion, branding and getting out key messages are prevalent at their events and training courses. There is a Prevent message, and little space for manoeuvre around it. One community leader told me that when they raised foreign policy concerns with Prevent officers from the Home Office, they were met with the message “‘your point is noted’. But there is never a suggestion of anything changing. There is never any acknowledgement of Britain’s foreign policy mistakes”.

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The Muslim Council of Britain is critical of Prevent, as it says the strategy only coordinates with groups willing to bite their tongues over UK foreign policy. The MCB has claimed that it will set up a parallel anti-terror programme carrying a simpler message: all violence is wrong. But only the government has adequate resources to tackle the very real problem of British people travelling to Syria to fight.

The community leader told me: “Prevent is like a budget overhead, there’s a sense that Prevent is where the money is to deliver community programmes, so let’s go with that”. Community groups receive help with their websites and social media and some funding for projects, in return Prevent has access to the grassroots and can engage with them on getting the Prevent agenda out to communities.

Main Threat

In some areas Prevent is seen as benevolent, in others it is seen as a hostile monitoring network keeping tabs on Muslims, harassing and stigmatising people and removing children from schools unnecessarily. Prevent has listed “empathy” with the Palestinians, criticism of foreign policy in the Middle East and criticism of Prevent itself as issues that needed to be “risk-assessed and managed” and that “may be regarded as extremist but are not illegal”. The scope for abuse of this power is broad.

Islamic extremism is the “main threat” identified by the Home Office and while Prevent officers are at pains to point out that they also take on far-right extremism, they do not acknowledge that takes place in a society in which the political and media establishment are anti-Muslim, and vilification of Muslims is a tool for power for Le Pen, Trump, May, Natanyahu and others. Theresa May being in ideological lock step with President Donald Trump, with his bombs, travel bans and racist rhetoric is the tip of a huge iceberg, but this is not on the agenda at Prevent meetings.

As well as not addressing many of the issues head on, the Prevent Strategy has the potential to be used to subdue communities and groups who have genuine grievances

Former Conservative Cabinet Minister Sayeeda Warsi has criticised Prevent and its narrow focus on ideology and Jeremy Corbyn called it “often counter-productive”. Under Labour it might change. Home Secretary Amber Rudd said the government needed “to sell it to communities”.

The problem is that all the government does is “sell it”, a salesperson with an inferior product becoming yet more passionate about its virtue for fear of a serious, in-depth debate and the whole façade crumbling.

Alternative thinking

Theresa May will double down on Prevent if she wins the upcoming election. A strategy that is the equivalent of a plastic mouse trap placed next to a large, overflowing rubbish bin. It’s good to catch a few mice, but the wider problem is ignored.

As well as not addressing many of the issues head on, the Prevent Strategy has the potential to be used to subdue communities and groups who have genuine grievances. In this way, class is the issue. Foreign policy isn’t carried out to benefit the poor, but the oil and arms companies. The housing crisis and austerity impoverish and trap the poor, but they cannot be discussed in the mainstream because this would question the framework of the class-based system.

Islam itself offers an alternative way of thinking about human experience and dominant economic system and cultures in a continent in which many never enjoy the benefits of liberty and freedom.

The result of a narrow focus on immediate causes is a missed opportunity to really confront a terrorism that is growing and spreading across the planet. And the victims include innocent British citizens, in London, in Paris and beyond. The government doesn’t want this, but it is unable or unwilling to broaden its approach to tackle the deeper issues. 

By Tom Charles

ISIS and North Kensington: https://urbandandylondon.com/2015/09/07/once-you-go-to-syria-you-aint-coming-back-isis-and-north-kensington-2/

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The Intensity of Insomnia

Love and stillness to all; dive within – find yourself, the kingdom of God is within you. Salvation, revolution, liberation, to take back out and play in the world. Play your role with presence and love. Attune, be a child, be wise, it’s all there in your heart – love, be loved, connect. (God).

But

Sleep anxiety leads to sleep problems, wakefulness and so on

Must relax, must relax, relaxing is worthy, relaxing is good, a good person would relax – Now, if I’m a good person I’ll relax – here comes the test – here it is, hold your nerve, woah – I’m in bed – Yes! Surely I’m doing the right thing – now I’ll be a winner…Oh no! Wait, I’m awake, nevermind, Nirvana will come now – time has passed now I see – oh no I’m a bad person…now only mindful awareness can save my sleep and therefore my soul.

Body scan, okay? Yeah.

Thoughts – bad person. No thinking

Scan and zzzzz

Fits and starts – “I’ll go on manfully”

Oh my? I just haven’t earned it yet, baby.

Spread thin. Warrior thin. Thin warrior. Tomorrow, next week will bring salvation – were we meant to live in concrete blocks?

A hut in the woods, to simplify life = to be present to what goes on, surely that promotes sleep – But not Be Present Man,

Look at me,

listen to me – hear it, I’m present,

But Be. Do you ever meet anyone that impresses you? I don’t mean admire, I mean, impress, Someone at ease with themselves ∼ you know they’ve done the work. It is the most admirable,

Cast your mind – can you name anyone? One or two in 38 years.

Now that’s my mind tired and negative.

Better plan – be it. Be admirable. Impress yourself – do it good.

Being and life are you – flowing with energy, you’re fully alive ∼ come into that.

Now from there what do you need? You need sleep. What’s stopping you? Nothing.

Spread Thin 2

 

By Tom Charles

Good Friday

Running my fingers

through the corn of my mind,

seeds sown over many years

mixed with the weeds of insecurity,

these golden fields swaying in the breeze

like ghosts of lost souls underground

awaiting final call and judgement,

may the petals of heaven’s flowers

forever be my rain,

as I slowly march from another time

into battle once again,

fighting thine enemies within,

this poor man’s soul, wounded mind

standing strong in hope,

faltering faith made firm by Gods eternal love

M C Bolton

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Bole Hill Quarry, Peak District

Aminah

“It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society”

Jiddu Krishnamurti

 

The cost to society when the vulnerable are not supported with decent housing and social service is laid bare when somebody pure and decent finds their life and what they hold dear falling apart. It is a bitter tragedy.

Such tribulation has afflicted a beautiful soul in North Kensington. A child she reared so lovingly is in a tailspin of degradation; removed from the family home and out of control. This child was 10 when her mother took me in on more than one occasion, homeless and abused myself. The child is now 15, pregnant, abused and abusive.

Aminah is a woman of strength with a strong work ethic, who could nurse me through my darkest times with assuredness. To understand the harms suffered by her child, it is not Aminah that needs to be studied, but society.

A person who would not do any harm, and could not do any harm, Aminah was born and bred in Ladbroke Grove, not in the village in which she would have been treasured and held in esteem. She was dealt urban anonymity rather than a nurturing community. But she still gives without expecting much in return, and possesses a lightheartedness that is attractive to everyone.

Aminah was orphaned in her teens, and her older siblings lacked the stability to raise her safely to adulthood. The ghetto provided its own support system and she was soon pregnant, with two girls, then abused and left to single parenthood.

She undertook this job with no complaints. And she took me in with no complaints. I had been subjected to an attempt to degrade me, but I have more tools in my kit than she ever did, that’s the only difference. Education, a discriminating and cynical mind, intellect, and a sense that things should work out were available to me. Skin colour is a factor too…

And what of society…how do we explain that a woman who now, six years later, with four children and a husband, is stuck in the same two-bedroom flat that was too small for my bags during my emergency stay. This was a powder keg, a teenage girl with baby siblings, no privacy, a stepfather, without an in-built sense of life being fair; add in overcrowded housing, poverty, acting out and social services. Even a woman of fortitude has a breaking point.

Now Aminah has a grandchild on the way and she will be the primary carer, the social workers denying the right of the mother to raise her own baby.

The family unit has been destroyed, but this woman still works, studies and provides. She plays ball with the solicitors and the social workers.

I learned all this during a chance meeting in the supermarket and I have never felt so helpless. I wanted to cry, she cried, ‘oh Aminah’, ‘oh Tom’ and I watched her walk away, a profoundly beautiful human being in a profoundly sick society. It finished me off.

 

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Scanned from Adbusters #124, VOL.24 NO.2

By Tom Charles, with permission from ‘Aminah’

Reflections

To float away into the mist

Upon a piece of driftwood

made smooth by my inner tears

Guided by moonbeams

to the ends of the earth

falling into the abyss of dreams

rescued by God’s mighty hand

placed upon the rock of my faith

Yet this world takes its toll

upon my heart, my soul, my mind

fearing the depths my thoughts

dive into…

Ripples of eternal love

Forever lapping upon the shore

As the sun warms my

ever changing face

never changing heart

that cares for my created…

 

Mark Bolton, February 2017 

 

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