here lie the true roots of Bird & Beckett’s Big Bash 2012…
Jack Ruby High Power
Keystone Berkeley, 2119 University Avenue
1st August 1982
Featuring: Lui Lepke, Bobby Culture, Lee Van Cleef
Operator – Fat Jaw
Owner – Jack Ruby
“Here is a real exclusive, courtesy of White Squall, of the mighty Jack Ruby Hi Fi live and direct in California. This is a really crisp recording of an event held at Keystone Berkeley that was maybe put on to showcase how the authentic Jamaican sound systems operate. The owner Jack Ruby is heard introducing his deejays to the audience and radio listeners, and one of the sounds regular deejays Lui Lepke is heard stepping out over some “Pre-release” Mighty Diamonds tracks. His report of the death of “Walter Rodney” is delivered over the Diamonds recut of “Declaration Of Rights” and when Fat Jaw spins some new Dennis Brown he tells how a recent “Dance A Keep Ina Ochi”. Bobby Culture has made the journey too and he gets down to business riding Freddie McGregor’s massive “Big Ship” changing it to “Big Sound Ina Foreign”. Like Lui, he’s got a lot of lyrics to flash and he educates the crowd about how to keep a dance in “Master Blaster”. Jack Ruby in fine style!”
This sound system dance concert was second of two trailblazing shows (the first took place at the historic Fillmore Auditorium the preceding day) put on by San Francisco’s Carnaval Productions — Jack Ruby’s only West Coast shows ever, unless I’m mistaken…
Carnaval was a concert promotion partnership between Patricia Peyton and Eric Whittington which during its early 1980s heyday produced a run of nightclub shows, primarily at Cesar’s Latin Palace and the Club Elegante in the Mission District, that featured the likes of Fua Dia Congo, Batucaje, Pete Escovedo and other great groups from the fertile Bay Area world music scene at the time.
For the two High Power shows, famed producer Jack Ruby, out of Ocho Rios, Jamaica, flew in direct from Jamaica to San Francisco with his djs, production crew, and twelve huge speaker columns, each painted with symbols of the zodiac. After the shows here, the sound system moved on to do shows in NYC and Orange, New Jersey that remain legendary, trucking 2/3 of the sound system cross-country— all that would fit in the biggest truck they could obtain.
Click on the poster above to read more on Jack Ruby and Jack Ruby Hi Fi — where the marvelous folks at the “Who Cork the Dance” website include a mention of the Jack Ruby Hi Power 1982 West Coast swing for the Carnaval Productions shows, noting that “In 1982 the sound embarked on a full scale tour of the USA with an entourage of 11 including Jack, Fat Jaw, Bobby Culture, Nicodemus, Lui Lepki and Brimstone. They played dates on the East Coast, in New York and New Jersey, and they even crossed to the West Coast playing in California and showcasing an authentic sound system there for perhaps the very first time.”
A prototype of the poster shown above is reproduced at the WCTD “Jack Ruby” link — an early version of the poster we used, mocked up when we were still anticipating that the great Yellowman was going to be making his debut US appearance as part of this tour. Other djs who might have made it included Brigadier Jerry and Sister Nancy, but ultimately we had the terrific Bobby Culture, Louie Lepke and the youngster Lee Van Cleef, and nobody went home unhappy with that! Nicodemus, mentioned in the linked post, didn’t appear in the West Coast shows.