Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : August 27th 2015 Contents B1
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Like other Caribbean carnivals
around the world, the street
parade and costumed bands are
a huge element of Notting Hill Carnival.
But there is one element of the Notting
Hill Carnival that is distinctly made in
London, the sound systems. JOSH SUR-
TEES explores this phenomenon and
speaks to some stalwarts of the London
sound system scene.
From his home in Grenada, Fitzgerald
Gelly is taking the T&T Guardian on a trip
down memory lane. It's three days before
Spice Mas but although the 72-year-old
Jamaican says he will "take a walk down
there" to see the Carnival in St George's,
his mind is firmly focused on another Car-
nival halfway across the world in the less
exotic surroundings of Notting Hill in West
Gelly's stage name is Farda Gelly and he
is the founder of the legendary London
sound system, Lord Gelly's, which he began
with his brother-in-law back in 1963. He
was part of the second wave of the Jamaican
exodus to Britain in the 1960s (the first
wave having begun with the Windrush in
1948 and continued through the 1950s.)
The 1960s migration was a different thing.
While those who sailed on the Windrush
arrived in suits and ties and bowler hats
and came seeking the "Motherland" and
their Queen, the 60s arrivals were bigger,
bolder and they brought with them the
lifestyle and traditions of their Caribbean
island. Particularly, their music---ska and
reggae---and their sound system party cul-
Born in 1943 in St Andrew Parish, Gelly's
relationship to sound systems began as an
11-year-old boy near Kingston where he
began following King Lattibuddier's system
in the mid-1950s: a time when the early
pioneers like Sir Coxsone "Downbeat" Dodd
and Duke Reid were importing American
R&B records, before the Jamaican recording
industry had begun.
"The sound with the deeper bass was
the man who ruled the day," says Gelly on
the phone in the house he built in Grenada
where he lives in semi-retirement with his
Grenadian wife for six months of the year,
returning to England at Carnival time.
"When a man get a sound and get deep
bass they called it "downbeat."
In 1961, Gelly moved to the UK and found
that his family members and friends had
brought their love of bass with them.
"The first time I heard my brother [Alfred
Gelly's] sound system in Birmingham it was
the heaviest sound I've heard in my life.
That sound system was called Dreadnought
and the bass was shattering windows and
I said, You know something, I'm going to
build my own sound.' So I started building
little boxes and ting. We got a German-
made valve amp radiogram and added 15-
inch speakers and we played ska records
[released on the Blue Beat label] and R&B
like Fats Domino."
Gelly's son, Andrew, now part of the
extended crew that runs the sound system
at Carnival keeps the equipment in the shed
at his house in Croydon, south London.
"As soon as my dad gets off the plane
he's in the shed," says Andrew. This year
Farda Gelly is scheduled to arrive on August
28 just two days before Carnival. This is
the first time he has ever allowed his sons
to do all the organising, Andrew says. But
it transpires that the elder Gelly is still mak-
ing calls from Grenada to the organisers of
Growing up, Andrew remembers the
whole house being full of equipment. "It
was like a factory. I grew up with my dad
building speakers. My mom didn't have a
living room really because bits of the sound
system were all over the house."
And his earliest memories are of the reg-
ular "blues spot" nights his father deejayed
in the basement of his aunt's house in
Wandsworth, playing reggae, blues, jazz
and Atlantic soul records while people drank
Red Stripe and danced and sang along.
These parties would often happen two nights
in a row on Saturdays and Sundays
"There was no industry for West Indi-
ans to go out to discos and night clubs
in my father's day," Andrew says. Which
is why Caribbean people in England tended
to start their own parties, some of which
became regular club nights.
His dad drove buses for a living and would
come home from a shift on a Friday night,
go straight to his aunt's house to play all-
night sets then go straight back out to work
in the morning.
These blues nights initially began with
the radiogram, which "looked like a drinks
cabinet, and you would stack up records so
they would drop one after the other when
each finished." But soon Gelly began building
a serious sound system to rival any at Not-
They used speakers made by Goodman
and Fane and these days they use Precision
"Let's face it, the old days was nice but
today it's a cleaner sound," says Farda Gelly.
Music systems a unique and enduring feature of London's festival
Continues on Page B2
YouTube quietly launched its spin-
off platform for video gamers on
YouTube Gaming is a dedicated app
and website focusing exclusively on
gaming content, with a greater
emphasis on live steams.
The video sharing giant told the BBC
it wanted to tackle a "fragmented"
experience for the gaming genre.
One expert said YouTube was
"fighting back" against rivals such as
Twitch and Daily Motion.
Gaming videos are a big draw for
YouTube and the company said its
visitors spent billions of hours
watching them every month.
YouTube's most-followed star Felix
Kjellberg, known as PewDiePie, is a
"We wanted to create a one-stop
shop for all gaming content,"
YouTube's head of gaming Ryan Wyatt
told the BBC. (BBC)
Fitzroy "Farda" Gelly at the controls of his legendary
Lord Gelly's sound system, one of the favourite
sound systems at the Notting Hill Carnival, in
London. PHOTO COURTESY ANDREW GELLY
YouTube launches gaming worldwide
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