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Uncle Ronnie Makes Things Interesting In Wickie Wackie

Sound system builder, concert promoter, artist and selector, Wickie Wackie resident Ronnie Jarrett (@uncle6455) is your favourite neighbour you never had. Photos by Danielle Myers @danieruhezamaiyazu

For many, Ronald ‘Uncle Ronnie’ Jarrett put the Wickie Wackie neighborhood east of Kingston on the map hosting concert performances by Nomadz, Raging Fya and Koffee at his seaside home during the 2000-teens. “People think Wickie Wackie is right where I am,” says Ronnie, when actually “Wickie Wackie is everything from Jamnesia right up to [the area called] nine miles, up to the police station, and from the hills back to the sea.”

Tucked between the hustle and bustle of Harbour View to the west and the relatively untouched parish of St Thomas to the east, for most Jamaicans the notable aspect of Wickie Wackie is simply its name. To Ronnie and his neighbours who call it home, Wickie Wackie is much more, both “the good and the bad” - bad meaning hurricanes. Still the storm has to be bigger than a category one to be taken seriously.

“It’s not so nice when it's a hurricane. During [Hurricane] Sandy, my neighbors came over. It was just a category one. At one point I counted fifty people in my backyard. All of us were outside.”

At home in the seaside workshop.

The Only Good System Is A Sound System

In between hurricanes Ronnie’s place is a popular destination for local sound system operators seeking the kind of unique sound only Ronnie's home-built system offers from its 6 and ½ columns off bass and 4 top end. Sound system operators from around the world have also made the trek to Wickie Wackie and Ronnie has traveled as far as Dubai to build a custom set.

“8 Miles might be the most popular party system. It has played as Wild Bunch Disco, Bass Odyssey, it’s playing as Renaissance, it’s playing as everything other than 8 Miles. And that is how we loved it. We just really, really love that.”

Ronnie pictured with the low end of 8 Mile, a one-of-a-kind.

What makes 8 Mile sound special? Ronnie says its the Wickie Wackie seaside surroundings.

“The background noise here is tremendous. It’s loud, the breeze and the sea. So when I build speakers and I'm testing them to even hear what the speaker sounds like it has to drown out that background noise. I am competing against another sound system - I am competing against God. It makes you know how to build things that will give you a lot of output with minimal input.”

Just don’t ask Uncle Ronnie to build the same thing twice. No matter how good it is.

“I'll tell you this,” he says, “the worst thing you can ask me to do is make two of anything, I don't find it interesting at all.”

Looking for something interesting?

Listen to Ronnie’s playlist on the Jamaica Nice Spotify channel here:

  • Danny Red, Calling for Roots

  • John Coltrane, A Love Supreme

  • San Sebastian Strings, Home To The Sea

  • Burt Bacharach, Blue On Blue

  • The George Shearing Quintet, Latin Escapade

  • Earl Bostic, That's The Groovy Thing Part 1 + 2

  • Stan Getz + Laurindo Almeida Octet , Once Again.


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