Roots, rock, reggae festivals 

INTERNATIONAL reggae festivals during summer are becoming a strong pull for local reggae acts. Europe is where it all happens for the majority of established Jamaican reggae artistes.

A section of the crowd attending Rototom Sunsplash in Spain, in 2014.Photo: Luca d'Agostino
A section of the crowd attending Rototom Sunsplash in Spain, in 2014.Photo: Luca d’Agostino

Rototom Sunsplash set for Benicassim, Spain, from August 13 to 20, has an enviable roster of Jamaican acts.

The line-up is headed by Damian ‘Junior Gong’ Marley. He is ably supported by Morgan Heritage, Tarrus Riley, Freddie McGregor, Marcia Griffiths, Kabaka Pyramid, Inner Circle, Jah 9, Agent Sasco, Junior Kelly, Beres Hammond, The Congos, Israel Vibration, Max Romeo, Wailing Souls, Runkus, and sound system Bass Odyssey.

Reggae Geel rolls out in the city of Geel in Belgium from August 5 and 6. This festival, which began in 1978, is continuing its mandate to present the best of Jamaican music on its stage. This year reggae crooner Beres Hammond is its major act. A mixtureof established and emerging acts complete the roster. Also set to appear at Reggae Geel are Dexta Daps, Jahmeil, Feluke, Kabaka Pyramid, Keznamdi, Pinchers, Ky-Mani Marley, Sevana, Lee Scratch Perry, Alaine, Tarrus Riley, Dean Fraser, and Yung Jr.

The French have been long-standing lovers of reggae and among their festivals is Reggae Sun Ska Festival, which is held in the Bordeaux region of France on August 5, 6 and 7.

Despite not boasting as big a line-up as its Spanish and Belgian counterparts, the festival offers some quality acts. Reggae band Inner Circle, Damian ‘Junior Gong’ Marley, Tarrus Riley, Dean Fraser and Alaine are the Jamaicans making the cut.

Across the ‘pond’ in North America, Jamaican acts are not as prominent on the festival circuit.

Another two festivals have recently announced their roster of acts with fewer Jamaican artistes holding the headlines.

In the United States, the inaugural staging of the Roots Reggae Culture Festival takes place in New Orleans over two days — June 18 and 19 and the organisers of that festival have named conscious reggae chanter I-Wayne, the reggae ambassadors Third World, the fireman Capleton, and Bonner brother Richie Spice among their acts.

The festival’s website quotes the organisers as saying they recognised a void in one of the premier convention and festival destinations in the US. The organisers, who describe themselves as “five very experienced fans of Reggae music and Caribbean culture”, further said they have come together to bring back the very much missed “Reggae Festival” to New Orleans and surrounding areas. They have also pledged to make this festival an annual event.

Meanwhile, just across the North American border, in Calgary Canada, Reggaefest is slated to run from August 18 to 20.

For this event, Jamaicans making the cut are Warrior King and Anthony B. Jamaican-Canadian deejay Razor B and US-based Glen Washington have also made it on to the line-up.

This event has drawn on reggae practitioners from all parts of the globe including Ghana, Colombia and Venezuela to complete the roster of acts. Canadian artistes such as Nana McLean, Dubwise and Kafinal are also booked for the festival which takes place at Shaw Millennium Park in that city.