The end of summer is getting close now. Autumn has its specific climate, which makes us reflect on what we have experienced, on the meetings we have had, on the knowledge we have broadened, on the values we have learned from these experiences…
This year I flew halfway around the world as an envoy of IRIE… observing, experiencing and writing down the most interesting impressions from meetings, festivals and visits to several different recording studios and festivals in three European countries. A lot was going on. But let us start from the beginning of my journey. My first stop – Poland.
For those with little interest and no previous contact – To some, we are considered a part of Russia, or a country where bears walk the streets! I met with this description during my travels around the world. Quite surprising but true. For most people with a general idea – it is a country that is part of Eastern Europe, which regained its freedom and independence in free elections only 30 years ago, freeing itself from the communist regime.
Have you ever wondered what would have happened if access to your favorite music had been limited?
Or for example, don’t have a passport because there is no opportunity.
Where you could be considered a spy for communicating in English or for having fluent knowledge of English and using it in inappropriate circumstances? Or if you had to stand for several hours in food queues? I could go on forever. This was the time of my childhood and growing up in this country. Young people in those days did not have an easy life. Many of them lived practically only with hope. The hope that one day the times of free Poland will come. One thing that gave them this hope was music.
Poland and Reggae. For an average inhabitant of London, Kingston or San Francisco, these are two words that seem as distant as moonshine and marijuana. How come we love Reggae so much and why have we been playing this music for 25 years? (Quote: Sławek Pakos)
Thanks to Bob Marley and many other pioneers Reggae music spread all over the world. This musical trend reached Poland in the 1960s from the single of Alibabki band, ‘In rhythms of Jamaica’, after that it was the first punk/reggae band Kryzys and Deadlock and Tilt. Following after them came Brygada Kryzys and Izrael. Next, this style was taken over by several similar bands such as Dreadlock and TILT, but the real breakthrough occurred only in 1983 when the aforementioned Robert Brylewski founded the first Polish band Reggae – Israel.
The first lyrics were concerned almost exclusively with Babylon, i.e. the bad, spoiled by money and the authorities of Western civilization in Poland, referring to the communist state. With Polish texts and themes close to almost every rebellious person, Reggae began to be more and more successful.
At that time, freedom of speech did not exist in Poland. During major events, which were not promoting propaganda gibberish, it seems a larger group of people including the militia (police) appeared, which effectively dispersed crowds of people “hungry” for truth and freedom of speech. Many creators hid the deeper message in their texts, it was like creating codes in the transmission of information and expressions of this free word that was so important at that time.
In a grey country without any great prospects, Jamaican rhythms turned out to be not so distant, neither sound, nor message, nor in the message given by positive thinking – therefore they gained ever more fans. Music was an escape from the difficult reality and the lyrics contained in it were of great value and gave hope.
And what is the current situation like in a country of other realities?
The nineteenth edition of Ostróda Reggae Festival attracted thousands of people from Poland and Europe. Following this loyal crowd for years I reached the place on time, which was not so easy.
It wasn’t because I lost my ticket and money, it was because Wow airlines went bankrupt leaving us stuck .. But, as they say – it is not the plans that are important, but the goals.
The goal was to reach the Festival, which was finally achieved by flying through Moscow for
I managed to talk to Mirosław ‘Maken’ Dzięciołowski, a long-time booking and PR manager for the Ostróda Reggae Festival, and also a DJ, promoter and music journalist. He is the host for ‘Strefa Dread’, a weekly reggae show aired for twelve years on the Polish National Radio Czwórka.
A man responsible for organizing concerts for many leading Reggae, Dub and World Music artists in this country over the last 30 years.