Digbeth First Friday: 55 Gallon BBQ (Blue Curry)

2 August 2019



Junction Works (Former Canal Office)
106 Fazeley Street, B5 5RS

Artist Blue Curry presented his all-in-one barbecue and steel pan drum ensemble which fuses clichés of the Caribbean into a single transformative moment. For August Digbeth First Friday, it was be played by local percussionists, Calvert Lawson and Sharon Walcott,  while an assortment of cassava, yam, taro, eddo, sweet potato, breadfruit, plantain and tania was cooked up on the grill will.

Born as a form of critical communication that the ruling class would not understand, calypso music plays a crucial role as a commentary on the social injustices and political oppression at stake in Caribbean territories. Blue Curry’s 55 Gallon is a sculptural piece that hybridises repurposed oil drums in the shape of a barbecue smoker/percussion instrument. The piece premiered in 2016 with a new calypso song by 2015 UK Calypso Artist of the Year G-String (Gerry Archer), that took listeners through the contemporary challenges of food sovereignty in the region.

Caribbean countries import more than $2 billion of food every year, making them totally dependent on foreign agricultural prices and imports; be it yogurt from New Zealand or fruit from the U.S. These market structures have boosted the consumption of more affordable canned and processed foods, which at the same time have impoverished diet and nutrition amongst the population, making cases of diabetes exponentially increase. ‘Ground provisions’, tubers that have been long stigmatised, are much healthier, more nutritious and easily grown locally. In Grenada, a new pilot programme was recently launched to incentivise bakeries to replace U.S. imported wheat flour with at least 50% of local cassava flour as a way to slowly transition into more food-sovereign breads. Expect an assortment of cassava, yam, taro, eddo, sweet potato, breadfruit, plantain, tania, and green figs.

You can book a free 30-minute session to play on 55 Gallon in pairs or solo throughout the month of August. Please contact birmingham@empireremains.net