Having beat a hasty retreat from the carnival shenanigans and taken in a pretty good live blues band elsewhere, I decided to head to a small bar/restaurant that had a night billed on Facebook as having a guest French DJ playing Afro-groove. After walking in and seeing DJ Baobassa spinning old vinyl 45s I knew I’d come to the right place. His fantastic set took in some familiar sounding African funky sounds in addition to very early recordings from Cuba, Brazil Haiti, Jamaica and Colombia. Stuff I’ve never heard before but know I absolutely love.
Roundabout then a small bloke with a skinhead, button-down collar and lambchops to rival my mate Shane came bounding over having clocked my Fred Perry. Turns out he’s the guy who puts the night on and I’ve just missed his warm up set of ska, Northern Soul, R&B, all played on original 45s!!! Man, you can’t make this up. Having gone 6 weeks with nothing but INXS and Huey Louis blaring out of everywhere I’ve only just gone and stumbled across the best source of music I love in Uruguay (and maybe the continent!).
I’m in shock as he frantically flicks through his record box whipping out the same sort of tunes I love to hear week in, week out back home. The night draws to a close and my new mate – Skinhead Brother Number One – Pavlo Dina – invites me around to his house the following night to drink beer and listen to his records, oh I, I think I can find room in my busy schedule to squeeze that one in!
Living in the old, characterful, will fiercely fight gentrification, working class neighborhood of Ciudad Vieja, Pavlo has a great pad in an old building complete with high ceilings and original gig posters on the wall. A whole room is dedicated to his hand-built system which is used for his Dinamita Sound System events and is soon blasting out early reggae and ska as we guzzle cold beers. Of course Pavlo is a perfect host and we soon get to talking about a range of things both musically and about life in general, thankfully he has great English.
I’m totally overwhelmed that through music it’s so easy to find such a common brotherhood. Of course it helps that we’re on the same page politically (I’m able to tell him about my early AFA days) but more than that, we are quickly able to share personal stories. I’m surprised that he has a strong collective conscience and memory of the loss suffered by his people – the indigenous Charrua – and saddened to hear that he still experiences discrimination and racism today. He has a beautiful family with his lovely partner Marina and two sons Lorenzo and Leon. The very personal and touching story of Leon – “Strong Like Lion” – is particularly moving and I was privileged to be trusted with the explanation of how is name came about.
Several (!) beers in, Pavlo leads me up a sequence of ever more rickety, steep stairs until we burst out onto the roof of his building with a great view over the city. The acoustic guitar comes out and we sing reggae, loudly, proudly across the rooftops of the neighbourhood. Magic!
Thanks for having me Pavlo, the pleasure was of course all mine.