Wax Poetics & Sonos Studio Present Hometown HiFi

Hometown HiFiThe sound system is of course the only way to truly experience the music of Jamaica. Ever since the 50’s sound men of all kinds have built their massive and not so massive speaker boxes, search for or record their own tunes and set up in lawns to entertain the crowds with the latest musical nuggets. That’s the way it has always been and would take over the UK scene as well. Great men such as Tom “The Great” Sabastian, Prince Buster, King Tubby, Duke Reid the Trojan, Coxsone and others built their own sounds.

As does everything in the world though things change, people grow old and systems are upgraded for bigger and better sound. When that happens those old speaker boxes that inspired so many others and created fond memories for those that were there are replaced and thus thrown out sometimes. See Jamaica never stops moving forward. That’s the nature of the island. They are always looking for the the next thing and sometimes their history and the people or things that have got them to where they are today are dismissed without much care like some of their most famous musicians. It’s not on purpose mind you it’s just the nature of a small island that has to always keep finding new ways to entertain, to grow to stay current in the larger world around it.

So it’s a blessing to know there are some people around the world, like Jeremy Collingwood, that take the time to find those special items and discarded “gems” when possible and bring them back to life. That’s wonderful news for those of us that weren’t even born or could never travel there to get a chance to marvel at the wonder of what came before. One such exhibit is now showing in Los Angeles It’s called Hometown HiFi and it’s at the Sonos Studios. Jeremy found one of the true master’s systems – that of King Tubby’s Hometown Hi-Fi – which was used from 1958 to the early ’70s and restored it.

That box and many others are part of the exhibit, co-presented by Waxpoetics Magazine, which runs through April 24 and features works and collaborations by Beth Lesser, Tero Kaski, Limonious, Franco Rosso, Scientist, Dub-Stuy, Dub Siren, plus rare artifacts, and a collection of dancehall footage including Volcano, King Jammys, Stone Love, and Metromedia sound systems, among other legends.

The event is being curated by Seb Carayol a French-born and noted expert in sound system culture, who is also a journalist, and filmmaker, contributing to Natty Dread magazine, Wax Poetics, Libération and others, while also running the rare reggae reissue label Reel-Heavy Music.

This is a must attend event for any Reggae lover and we know we have more than a few in LA. I just hope I can make it there myself.

Sonos Gallery

Hometown HiFi. Photo © Ralf Strathmann for Sonos Studio.


The pioneering sound systems that came out of 1960’s Jamaican dancehall led to a revolution that changed global music culture. Sonos Studio presents various films and associated ephemera guiding visitors through a musical narrative close to Sonos’ heart – the legacy of listening out loud. Visitors can make their own “dubs” via a custom iPad app and play them in the gallery, while King Tubby’s original sound system, fully restored, will be exhibited for the first time in the US.

“Hometown HiFi,”
curated by Wax Poetics contributor Seb Carayol: Sonos Studio (145 N. La Brea, Los Angeles) until April 24. Hours: 12–6 PM, Wed.–Sun.

I've been involved in the Los Angeles music scene since at least 1995 going to shows, promoting, spinning records and running labels. Ska and Early Reggae are my passion among other things of course.