14 August 2017
The acoustic Jamaican collective touch hearts and minds with their unplugged collaboration
Regular panellists David Katz and Pier Tosi hosted a conversation with the acoustic ensemble project Inna De Yard. Veterans Kiddus I, Cedric “Congo” Myton, Winston McAnuff and younger artists Var from Pentateuch, Winston’s son Kush and bassist Wormbass, had a mellow spiritual discussion – just like the acoustic vibes the group bring.
Prior to the talk, the University showed the classic 1978 reggae movie Rockers – in which Kiddus was a major cast member. Kiddus’ scene at Jack Ruby’s studio offered a chance for the audience to see absent co-founder of the collective Earl Chinna Smith, whose St Andrew Park home was the source of the Inna De Yard name.
Winston McAnuff explained that the group originally formed due to the coincidence of two separate events. Winston had submitted an acoustic solo album to French label Makasound while Kiddus and Chinna were experimenting with organic reggae, driven by Rasta nyabinghi drums at Chinna’s front yard in Jamaica. Winston was busy with other projects and linked Makasound to his brethren to start the venture.A series of rough edged unplugged albums followed, until Makasound went out of business. The label later resurfaced as Chapter Two, and the latest Inna De Yard album – The Soul Of Jamaica – was born. This time the project was recorded live at Kiddus’ place of residence, a secluded, elevated house in Stony Hill, formerly owned by the brother of producer Chris Stanley. When asked by a member of the audience why Chinna was not involved for the reformation of the group – Kiddus answered that though the reasons were unclear, “it was his decision”.
The packed tent was treated to sound clips of the new songs, as well as the earlier electric recordings by the veteran artists which inspired them. The unplugged versions of Cedric and the Congos Hey Youthman, Winston’s Secret, and Kiddus’ unreleased track Jah Power Jah Glory were enthusiastically received. One audience member said Secret brought tears to her eyes.
The younger artists, Var, Kush and Wormbass talked about how proud they were to share a record with their elders – and how much they enjoyed playing live among the birds and the crickets. Cedric added that to him and Kiddus “this was nothing new. I had been doing this [outdoor Rasta drumming] since I was 17 with Ras Michael and the sons of Negus. We’ve got to spread love unconditionally”.
Winston then drew a parallel between the Rasta Nyabinghi rhythm and the music of John Lennon. He led the tent in clapping and singing Give Peace A Chance.