Saturday, October 05, 2013
Soft Wax and the Search for LT: a 1950s London Soundman?
As mentioned here last week, Vinyl is a new record shop in Deptford at 4 Tanners Hill (previously home to Blossoming Together, Deptford Deli, Deptford Properly and in the 1930s the Communist Party's Workers Bookshop). It has a coffee shop upstairs, records downstairs and a gallery space. There's a great installation on there at the moment as part of the Deptford X Fringe called Soft Wax.
Steve Wax and Cecile Buxton have recreated the feel of a West Indian front room set up for a blues party, drawing on the latter's childhood memories of living in Spitalfields in the late 1950s. There's a 78 record player from the period, and a collection of records to go with it.
As for the records there's a fascinating mystery with a local connection. Steve picked up a collection of unidentified old records which had been sold to a Greenwich record shop - many of them were 1950s American R&B records including a number of 'soft wax' acetate discs. This music was very popular in Jamaica at the time, and without proper local distribution of the records DJs would sometimes make their own copies using acetate cutting machines.
Most of the records have 'LT' scratched into the label, suggesting that they belonged to a DJ of that period (and maybe later, some of the music dates from 1960s and 70s).
So the search is on for LT - who was he? There are some clues, some of the record sleeves have the address Herman Miller of Harlesden written on them. The records were sold by an older Caribbean woman, believed to have been the widow of the records' collector, who probably lived in the New Cross area. LT could have been the person's name, or possibly nick name/DJ name. If you have any clues get in touch.
The installation closes tomorrow (Sunday) but the Soft Wax project continues. Next week (October 12th) they are taking part with Jamtone in a 70s style Reggae Sound System Dance at the Vibe Gallery in Bermondsey:
'It’s a return to the source for us. Together we will be select a blistering mix from the rich heritage of Jamaican music. From the 60s into the early 80s and beyond. For this night the tunes will be spinnin’ on Jamtone’s traditional Sound System rig, enabling them to be appreciated to full affect, in a “back-a-yard” style. Expect guest musicians and DJs live on the mic too.
Darren Jamtone has been the mainstay of Sound Systems for two decades. He is now an accomplished live and studio Sound Engineer too, with many records to his name. Steve Wax has been carving out a unique niche as an installation DJ. This evening will commence with the playing of a “one away” collection of late 50s acetates, played on a period deck with an accompanying installation. There will be a vintage record stall, for your continued listening pleasure. There’s a fully licensed bar and arrangements have been made to order food in. Pure niceness all'.