The Empire Windrush is the new EP from UK-based roots reggae band Dubwiser, released today (6th October 2023) in celebration of Black History Month. The Empire Windrush EP follows Smile Plenty EP which was released in September 2023. Dubwiser is a four-piece band featuring singer Jonas Torrance, drummer and producer Spider J with brothers Eddy (bass + keys) and John Smythe (guitar).
Jonas Torrance, singer with Dubwiser says: “It is impossible to overestimate how important the colonial in-breath of the 20th century was to Britain. Every aspect of this country has been changed by the cultures, religions, foods, music, philosophy, clothes, languages and attitudes of these peoples. We are all in debt to Africa, The Caribbean, The Indian subcontinent and the far and near East for transforming this collection of islands forever and for the better! The Empire Windrush EP is a tribute to and a celebration of our forebears, those who arrived and those who welcomed them.”
The Empire Windrush EP opens with the title track which takes us on a journey with a young Jamaican woman to England. Musically The Empire Windrush has a classic 70s Jamaican reggae influence with Spider toasting for his verse at the end of the song and it features the horn section from bright young things of the UK reggae scene Kioko.
Johnny tells the story of John ‘Johnny’ Smythe who was the father of two members of Dubwiser, John and Eddy Smythe. Eddy originally wrote a poem for his dad, chronicling his adventures and courageousness in travelling from his native Sierra Leone to serve as an airman in the RAF in WW2.
As well as being a brilliant afro funk tune Johnny also has references to merengue, one of the indigenous musics of Sierra Leone. Tying into the theme of the Windrush, after the war Johnny was instrumental in persuading The British Government to bring the very first ship of migrants from the Caribbean to England on The Windrush.
Take Down Colston is a celebration of the 7th of June 2020 when the Colston statue was torn down in Bristol. Sea shanties are an influence on reggae and the band wanted to have that feel to tell this Bristol story. After all the drama and rage of the other tracks Amazing tells the simple and positive story of Spider’s mother, living, working and bringing up a family here in the UK and making the absolute best of it. It is also a tribute to Spider’s mentor, the great Peter Tosh with a requiem styled horn section.
The core of Dubwiser is Jonas Torrance, a highly respected Oxford musician and songwriter who emerged on the band scene alongside luminaries such as Ride, Radiohead and Supergrass and Spider J, a London based producer and multi- instrumentalist who has collaborated with a host of big names including Mad Professor, Stevie Wonder, UK Apache, and Dub Pistols. He was even a long-standing selector/vocalist & keyboardist for the legendary Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry. Along with John and Eddy these four are musicians of an undeniable pedigree and firm favorites on the
UK festival circuit.
Photo Credit: Meghan Bennett