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I and I get great E-pistles, i.e. letters via e-mail from listeners near and far. I & I look forward to hearing from other folks who were inspired by the late night sounds, Kennel Club, and music in general. Thanks to John Josselson for these heartfelt words of the San Francisco Bay Area circa 1984. Look for other E-pistles in this space from time to more time. Write us one!
From: John Josselson
Date: Monday January 31st, 2011 - SF Bay Area
Subject: Midnight Dread 1984
it is with this article i am gonna try and send some words on the KQAK Midnight Dread tipping point of 1984...
so, the years leading to Overstanding Dread at Midnight began with so much suffering for the I during the late 70's into early 80's. this suffering was not of weakness but of developing strong heart, and you will stay alive - barry brown - things and time - black roots 12" produced Sugar Minott, written by Tony Tuff and mixed by Scientist and Roots Radics I believe...
knowing my Mom had the sense to leave Sonoma in late 78, oppression all about what with abusive alcohol fueled rage by a good cowboy when sober - TC sheet metal - father figure - but mean as nails when the system and economy brought the man to his knees, sipping hard on spirits, no where to turn and utter frustrations... Sonoma my Love and hometown we had to run from and end up in Avian dr apts, emerging ghetto apartments in eastside Vallejo - january 1979
heart-broken and forced immediate to adapt, assimilate and try and thrive in the City, multi-dimensional, multi-cultural blue collar Union town of informal integration. Chicanos saw me first and gave me Love. I fought so many kids that first year, every kind of color, economic background, etc. they must have saw Country-Youth before them and insisted I conform.
this began a 3 year struggle for Truth and Rights in this city of good and bad extremes. before the internet, the greyhound bus became my weekend escape down thru eastbay and SFO, tuff neighborhoods and tuff Youth, same condition and there was an immediate recognition on their part now that I look back as my being a Forward Observer and having much active intelligence...
along these journeys i discovered Rasta music, or it discovered me, the Lovers Rock and Foundation had similar riddims to the Lowrider Oldie Arts and Culture, the Rasta music a nice alternative to run with the optimistic disco-funk of the 79-82 era... profound to know JA Sound System driven music was saying what we were going thru and accurately predicted what condition urban and country youth would exist in in the future, as powerful as Soulsonic Force Futurism music so was Midnight Dread. and this was before guns and killing
the streets were coming to a breaking point, another tipping point, differences were handled honorably and there was some sense and there was Guidance and Protection from all kinds of older folks, even if it was reluctant. but the economic conditions of the era seem to produce oppressors, in my observation the bully crews and anarchy based gang-bangers punking whomever was less physically strong, somehow vulnerable. Active intelligence, gift of gab, choices, Arts & Culture etc. all attributes that helped me and folks i knew to stay out of these problems, but not out of eye-sight.
rasta music became the alternate cool culture to go to, migrate, leave bad vibes and be respected, be strong, be wise, be morally good and hold strong to Universal Moral values and Principles.
but we still had to grow up and learn to assimilate and adapt for the coming world of being an Adult. I chose to exile myself to Omaha - Boystown - for 6 months where in my despair and painful homesickness i played over and over tapes I had recorded from kpoo reggae show and all the reggae music that show turned me onto that wasn't just Bob Marley. I drove home after 1 year, early january 1984 in a 300$ bucket car, exhaust fumes seeping into the cab of car. broke down in Wyoming in blizzard to be rescued by some Indians who helped me to reservation gas station, got my car running and kept going
all the way from reno, windows wide open and very cold i drove last bit to Vallejo, i will never forget driving thru the mini grape vine that separates fairfield from vallejo, you go down a hill and come up a hill where the city of Vallejo stretches the hill-top view, as i was coming up hill but could not see the city yet, i had been constantly twisting the tuning dial of car radio and in came the KQAK - Midnight Dread show, it was a Sunday nite at about 10pm? and i hear junjo lawes produced riddim with Scientist mix, eek-a-mouse sing jaying...
and I am home
spent the next several months in a state of magic. doing good in school, peers were behaving well, I had much respect wherever I went and I was Humble. i meticulously recorded each show when I could and captured Life anthems like Natural-ites - Gwan do it, Barry Brown - Things and Time - Principle - Dont shoot me boss - I like to be going Places - Hugh Mundell - and many many more. i would play my tapes for people and there would be instant conversion to Rasta music and Rasta style fundamentals.
1984 ended too soon. but the tapes and vibes lasted very strong thru the 80's, and the music became an answer for Youth to step away from the rapid metamorphing of urban lifestyles that marketed a narrow minded only way out of narco economy survival and guns as an answer to problems. the gun became a complicated equalizer i suspect academically as the first youth on youth killings were likely someone vulnerable behind the trigger having had enough of being scared and beaten, harassed and oppressed and booom!
at the same time the dreaded cocaine rock went on-line quick and gun became business.
and times were still ruff and tuff on my end, broke, trying to get by day to day in college, riding a 1 gear beach-cruiser bike 20 miles daily all over the place due to lack of car, but the inspiration and time helped to feel easy by Reggae Music. KQAK Midnight Dread Reggae Music. so it goes...
Dreadstock Reggae Music Festival
Executive Director - Unity and Life Youth Project - www.unitylifeyouth.org