Writer Mark Roberts / Photographer Connor Pope
Trojan Records is world renowned for its powerhouse roster of reggae legends. From Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry to Desmond Dekker, Toots & The Maytals to Bob Marley and The Wailers, its influence on Birmingham can be felt through the likes of Steel Pulse and UB40 and less obvious Brummie artists like Apache Indian.
Gabbidon Band and special guests then, are the perfect band to pull off such a range of songs, supported by the Sound System Selection from Pete Sherriff, and top tunes from the decks of DJ Sammi Kaseba.
I arrive at The Jam House at almost exactly the open of the evening, DJ Sammi Kaseba is playing reggae bangers ranging from roots to rock steady with the occasional dub record thrown in. He is wearing what must be one of the greatest hats I’ve ever seen, blue denim, almost top hat in height, although fedora in aesthetic with a small brim.
A rum punch is being served from behind the bar. Chairs line the ceiling of The Jam House rather than the floor, hanging in perpetual suspense, I dread a Final Destination style ending for the punters on the dancefloor.
Luckily no one will be chaired this evening.
The band’s made up of Basil Gabbidon on guitar and vocals, Colin Gabbidon on drums, Candice Gabbidon on vocals, Paul Beckford on bass, with special guests looking amazing in their uniquely bold outfit.
It’s a true family affair, with relaxed confidence exuding from the band’s every pore.
Almost everyone on stage sings, with Gabbidon and two others taking the leads. The harmonies are flawless, the voices were buttery smooth, unique, and perfectly fitting. The rendition of each tune is both inimitable and unbelievably faithful to the original songs.
These are true, high calibre professionals.
As they move through ‘Simmer Down’ by Bob Marley and the Wailers, ‘The Tide is High’ by The Paragons, and ‘A Message to You Rudy’ by The Specials, I find myself remarking on how the band are masters at pace. Allowing the audience to ebb and flow between the up-paced beats of ska and the more downbeat genres of rocksteady.
The audience reacts in kind with bobs and sways reminiscent of buoys.
The movement isn’t just about the pace but shows the throughline of Trojan Records, starting in the 60s and moving through the eras of reggae. They end their first set of the evening with ‘Now That We’ve Found Love’ by Third World. The rendition moves us into the blending of reggae with other genres, specifically here funk, and really brings up the vibe for the end of the set.
At this point the band comes off stage for a break before carrying on, it’s already 11.30m and I have an early start at work the next day so I have to leave.
I bid Basil and family a farewell and head home… ‘Now That We’ve Found Love’ will be in my head for at least the next week.
To hear more from Gabbidon Band go to: www.bgabbidonband.co.uk
To see more events at The Jam House go to: www.thejamhouse.com