Billy Jam's radio show from Viva music studios was a huge success. Three hours of great radio relayed back to WFMU in east coast of the USA with a lot of excellent local talent. The whole show is up to be replayed on the WFMU site and you can still add comments over there. Artists who performed on the night can also download the full show here, it starts about seven minutes in. Lots of photos up on our myspace. Thanks to everyone who took part and to all those who supported the show in any way.
Billy himself commented afterwards that " The WFMU Live from Limerick show on March 27th not only proved what a richly diverse music scene inhabits the district but also how tightly knit these divergent scenes & individuals are"
Moley from Size2shoes ( one of the stars on the night) put together the following which also sums it up nicely
"Bring more change on the mic than Obama: Billy Jam & Limerick city’s Trans-atlantic Broadcast
Limerick city, boasts a long main street (O’ Connell Street), lined with Georgian terraces. Most of these houses are restored beautifully to their original grandeur as offices to local solicitors and real-estate agents. At 46 O’Connell street you will find one door with faded and flaking paint with no number or sign of life, the top floor of this building is Viva Music School.
Billy Jam rates highly in terms of Irish hip hop. His cameo in the seminal documentary Scratch and his long list of journalistic articles published in many U.S rap magazines will ensure his significance to anyone interested in hip hop’s direct transatlantic links between Ireland and America. Put The Needle On The Record is a three hour hip hop and urban culture radio show on WFMU free form radio. Billy jam presents this mid to late afternoon slot which goes out over manhattan, Jersey city, and most of New York State. Billy Jam’s eagerness to showcase Irish hip hop talent led to a series of remote broadcasts from Ireland that went out live on WFMU. This broadcast, his third from Ireland, came from a music school on the top floor of a Georgian terrace on Limerick’s main street, better known to the locals as ‘Viva’.
Put The Needle On The Record’s three Irish broadcasts are unprecedented in Irish hip hop history. They are broadcast live to New York and Jersey city and all have a similar style. Billy Jam creates a live almost house party atmosphere to bring the show to life. In the small rectangular room there were 6 turntables, 3 mics, a laptop, 3 handheld video cameras and a digital audio recorder. This footage, along with the actual radio recording in the WFMU archive (WFMU.org) will ensure that this event will not be forgotten. This article is no match for such documentation. However we can examine some of the processes that took place and their impact for those who took part in this radio broadcast.
This radio broadcast embodied a rare reversal of the tide of American hip hop. What has always been a one way flow of cultural content from the U.S to Europe was washed back to the cultural heartland. Billy Jam’s remote broadcast allowed Irish musicians to send a hip hop ‘message in a bottle’ to American shores. Billy Jam short circuited the flow of consumption and New York heard hip hop tailored to Irish specificities. The privileged few musicians who performed at this broadcast, in a post-modern way, got to send a message ‘home’.
Billy Jam was also sending a message home through this remote broadcast. Billy Jam is an Irishman who emigrated to New York three decades ago. His Irish homecoming signalled his intent to explore Irelands indigenisation of the hip hop he found in New York in 1979. His choice to return to, and broadcast from, Ireland created an electrically fluid amalgamation of factors. Billy Jam’s trip to his home country under the guise of ‘Irish hip hop boy done good’, coupled with the broadcast of a three hour show on Irish hip hop from Ireland to the birthplace of the cultural movement, New York.
Billy Jam is a very laid back presenter. For three hours the broadcasting room at Viva was full of people watching the unfolding show. DJ sets and MC interviews were in the majority and Billy regularly called upon the crowd to ‘make some noise’ for the performer in question. His ease on the mic brought the best out in a talented extended crew of Irish hip hop musicians. Only time will tell the alliances that will be made by musicians who met that night. The acknowledgement WFMU and Billy Jam showed by carrying out these remote broadcasts is acknowledgment of the fully globalised status of hip hop. Incidentally in the city that night Akil The MC from rap group ‘Jurassic 5’ also did a concert in Limerick that night, the 100 strong audience were ecstatic. Limericks ‘message in a bottle’ has landed in Jersey cit…who’s next?"
Moley O Suilleabhain
31st March 2009
Photo of Moley from size2shoes with Billy Jam in the background photo by Paul Tarpey