Photo Exhibit Of Classic Uk Soundsystems Kicks Off In Bristol

Art & Culture

Sound System Culture Bristol is the first in a series of photographic exhibitions documenting the UKs history of reggae sound system culture. Opening in the Glass Room, Colston Hall from 8 June–17 July 2015, the exhibition will later head around the country to focus on Birmingham (August 2015), then London (February 2016).

As part of the display, visitors will have an opportunity to interact with Heritage HiFi, a vintage-style sound system custom-built for the project, consisting of a record deck, amps, speaker boxes and a stack of vinyl including a dubplate specially cut for the exhibition featuring sound bites from foundation Bristol soundmen. The project also includes a colourful children’s picture book, The Sonar System by Ras Mykha, introducing young people to the world of sound system culture, as well as a live event, the Roots Revival Showcase in association with Bristol Roots Syndicate (Saturday 27 June 2015), featuring old school Bristol sound systems Sir Bastian, Enterprise Imperial HiFi and Jah Lokko.

Curated by Al “Fingers” Newman (author of Clarks in Jamaica, Greensleeves The First 100 Covers) and Mandeep Samra (Sound System Culture: Huddersfield) the exhibition aims to shed new light on an important part of UK history that has meant so much to so many people, yet has been largely overlooked by mainstream historians.

More info and tickets are available over on the Facebook page. We've been sent a smattering of photos from the exhibition – check them out:

Flyer for a Leroy Smart concert at the Bamboo Club, 25 Feb 1977, with support from London­based sound system Count Shelly and Bamboo Club selector, Hank AKA Hank's HiFi. Courtesy Donovan Jackson collection

Foundation Bristol soundman, Karl "Sebastian" Smith, with his December 1966 membership card for the Bamboo club, one of the UK's first clubs to cater for the West Indian community. After arriving in the UK from Jamaica in 1962, Smith became selector for Tarzan the High Priest and Count Ajax before starting his own sound, Sir Bastian, in the early 1970s. Photo © Al "Fingers" Newman

Enterprise Imperial HiFi and friends, circa 1977. Founded in 1975, Enterprise became one of Bristol's most popular sound systems. Photographer unknown, courtesy Michael House collection



Lionpulse sound system, founded in 2013 by General H and Live&Direk – part of a new wave of Bristol sounds. Photo © Gary Thomas


Big Roy and his brother Ferdie, Sir jay sound system, 2015. Photo © Al "Fingers" Newman

Heritage HiFi sound system, built for the Sound System Culture project by Paul Axis (Huddersfield). Photo © Elliot Baxter