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International 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.
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.

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Monterey Reggae Fest 2016

Escape for a weekend of Golden State music and culture at Monterey’s California Roots Festival at the Monterey Fairgrounds.
The three-day festival, which runs Friday, May 27, through Sunday, May 29, will be headlined by reggae artists including Rebelution, Slightly Stoopid, Tribal Seeds, Damian Marley and Stephen Marley.
Food and drink vendors, such as the Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, will be spread throughout the festival. Last year, Sierra Nevada created a custom brew, called Hoppy Roots IPA, in honor of the event.
General admission is $85 per day and $190 for all three days. “Rally buses,” coordinated by the festival’s organizers, will provide transportation to the event from major cities, including Berkeley, San Francisco, Santa Cruz and Oakland. Attendees must be 21 years or older.
For details: californiarootsfestival.com.

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Jah Returns To Number One On The Reggae Charts

Reggae artiste Jah Cure has returned to the number one spot on the Reggae Billboard chart. The artiste who recently embarked on a tour of Europe, is now celebrating his 37th week on the chart.
Titled The Cure, the self produced album was one of last years best sellers, and was also nominated for a Grammy award. Cure's ascension to the number one spot, is a temporary relief for the local music industry, since the reggae chart has been dominated by foreign reggae acts over the last few weeks.
Also returning to the chart this week is VP Records' Reggae Gold project, which features various artistes. The effort sits at 10, pushing out Bob Marley and the Wailers.
Alkaline's debut album, New Level Unlocked, made little movement this week and continues to hold the fifth spot. Executive producer for the album, DJ Frass, recently told The Gleaner, that the album is 'Grammy worthy'. However, before winning a Grammy, Alkaline may have to hold off stiff competition from reggae artistes Stephen and Ziggy Marley, who will both be releasing albums in a matter of days.
On the Billboard 200 Albums chart, Drake continues to hold down the number one spot, while the closest Jamaican project in contention is Legend by Bob Marley and the Wailers, which currently occupies the 78th position.

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Alborosie Releases New Reggae Album

Sicilian-born reggae vocalist, producer and multi-instrumentalist Alborosie has a new album titled Freedom and Fyah. Alborosie has spent over a decade living in Jamaica. He presents revolutionary songs with deep, heavy roots rhythms that have become his trademark.
Alborosie has produced a series of bestselling albums since his 2008 debut Soul Pirate.
Freedom and Fyah has a very intense dub influence, with signs of dub-step and electronic music in some of the tracks. Lyrically, he covers topics such as love, revenge, politics and other social commentary.

See Alborosie - Fly 420 ft. Sugus | Official Music Video below.

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The Illustrator Behind 'Scentist Wins The World Cup'

Forget the fact that Jamaica failed to qualify for the 1982 FIFA World Cup in Spain, on the cover of the 1982 album Scientist Wins the World Cup, they give the England national team a royal flogging.
In front of a packed stadium, with Scientist’s Jamaica team already leading 6-1, one of the Jamaican players curls a shot hard into the top right corner of the net. The goal leaves Kevin Keegan, Glenn Hoddle and the rest of the English players stunned and the stadium erupting into wild and colorful celebration.
Illustrated by Tony McDermott, the in-house designer for legendary dub label Greensleeves, the image has become one of the most iconic reggae album covers ever and proved that although Jamaica had been independent for 20 years there was still a fierce rivalry with their former colonial masters.
One of the classic early 80s dub albums produced by Linval Thompson and Junjo Lawes featuring King Tubby's young engineer Scientist at the controls, the album has recently been reissued as Junjo Presents: Wins the World Cup.
McDermott was raised in Oldham, just north of Manchester before moving to London in 1978 to study graphic design at the London College of Printing. It was around this time that he began illustrating cartoons for Black Echoes magazine. An avid soul, funk, and reggae fan he eventually found himself at Greensleeves and designing album art for the likes of Mad Professor, Johnny Osbourne and Yellowman.
With the recent reissue of the dub reggae favorite we caught up with McDermott to chat about the album design.
Noisey: You grew up in Oldham. Did you support Oldham Athletic?
Tony McDermott: I did and in my younger days, before I got more interested in music and playing music, I went to most home matches at the windswept and rainswept Boundary Park. Our household was brought up to support Everton, my dad's preferred team, but went to see Latics (Oldham Athletic's nickname) with him quite often. I don't really count myself as a true supporter of a team, as I don't go to matches much, but I do still play recreationally and enjoy football in that way. The results I look to first are Manchester United, Oldham Athletic and Everton.
Did Jungo follow football?
I never knew Junjo to follow any football team, he was more interested in horseracing from what I understood. Though his build suggested he'd have been fast on his toes.
Jamaica didn’t actually qualify for the 1982 World Cup but there seems to still fair bit of rivalry with England even with Jamaican being independent for 20 years.
Most English football fans have an ambivalent approach towards the national team. Repeated failure to match 1966's World Cup triumph had led to a generally critical assessment of England players, so anyone other than Liverpool or Newcastle fans would have had a chuckle at Kevin Keegan or Glen Hoddle being mocked. The punky / reggae / soulboy circles I knew regarded footballers as being champions of the laughable mullet and curly-perm hairstyles, and conservative. Black players had also only recently been given the chance to play for England, and Britain's black populace knew that football in the UK at the time was racist. So reggae fans would have been sanguine about the England soccer establishment. Jamaicans (as with most West Indians regarding cricket) liked nothing better than the idea of beating the former colonial masters. So the reggae massive reacted well to the drawing, and the English do like to see an underdog have its day.
There is a lot of detail in the image with the crowd. Do you remember much about designing this cover?
Drawing crowds in detail took a long time, I do remember, but people really seem to warm to detailed / intricate work.
I notice Kevin Keegan and Glenn Hoddle. Who are the Jamaican players?
The imaginary Jamaican team in the picture was made up of Greensleeves-linked Reggae artists (many Jamaican musicians were skilful players), such as Eek-A-Mouse, Eastwood & Saint, Michael Prophet, Yellowman, Ranking Dread etc. with Junjo as the referee originally.
'Junjo Presents: Wins the World Cup' is available now from Greensleeves.

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Heineken Reggae On Beach Saipan

Heineken Reggae on the Beach Saipan is set for Saturday, May 27, at the Fiesta Resort and Spa.

Legendary Island Reggae artist Fiji will be the headliner for Heineken Reggae on the Beach Saipan; along with Kolohe Kai, Micah G., and Mana’o Company sharing the stage.

The artist behind classics like “Morning Ride,” “Reggae Train,” and “Sweet Darling,” Fiji’s success has spanned decades. In that time, he has taken his hit music on tours throughout the Pacific and United States. Kolohe Kai, who shot to fame with hits like “Cool Down” and “Ehu Girl,” mega hit “Apple of My Eye,” by Micah G, and Mana’o Company of “Sweet Reggae Woman” fame will all be ready to play their favorites.

Heineken Reggae on the Beach Saipan will take place at Fiesta Resort and Spa beachside. Doors open at 5pm and show begins at 7:30pm. VIP tickets are $70 and general admission tickets are $40. Tickets are available at Pacific Trading Corp. office or online at www.tpiguam.com.

Heineken Reggae on the Beach Saipan is brought to you by Monster Energy, Docomo Pacific, Fiesta Resort and Spa, Best Sunshine Live, Hertz Rentals, Jack Daniels, Patron Tequila, and Skyy Vodka. Heineken reminds everyone to enjoy responsibly. This is a tropical production.

 

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Walking Down Reggae Lane

Toronto, the provincial capital of Ontario, Canada now has a street called Reggae Lane. Located in the Eglington and Oakwood areas of the city, it was renamed late last year under an initiative — The Laneway Project — by councillor for the area Josh Colle.

A major part of the facelift was a mural depicting international and Canadian reggae stars. Visual artist Adrian Hayles, who was commissioned to paint the mural, told Splash that the power of reggae and its impact on Canada is underestimated. The popularity of Reggae Lane has shown the music’s reach.

“The area has now received a new identity with the renaming of this laneway in Eglington and Oakwood. Now you have music videos being shot with the mural as the backdrop and a number of people coming to view and take pictures... it’s a real tourist attraction in the area. Reggae has a rich history in Canada and this needs to be acknowledged and hailed,” Hayles added.

Hayles, who is of Guyanese heritage, revealed that the mural is his fourth major work. Based on his love for reggae he could not pass up the opportunity when asked to do it.

“I grew up in this community and reggae was a major part of my early years. My father was a DJ on a sound system, and so a lot of times I would accompany him along these streets to buy records. As I grew up I also began playing music and so reggae is really part of my being... it’s in my DNA,” he said.

The Eglington and Oakwood area is commonly known as Little Jamaica due to its heavy concentration of residents from the Caribbean country.

Hayles and a band of volunteers took three weeks to complete the mural, which was officially launched with a street party. Canadian reggae act Jay Douglas, who recorded a song titled Reggae Lane, performed.

Hayles said there are plans to expand Reggae Lane with the painting of garage doors which face the mural.

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Bunny Wailer Still Going Strong

More than 50 years after he formed the most influential reggae band in history, Bunny Wailer is still going strong.

Bunny Wailer has been the gold standard in reggae music for 50 years and he still has it. I got a chance to catch up with the Jamaican artist on a recent tour stop in New York City to talk about the music, the original Wailers and the people.

Bunny, Bob Marley and Peter Tosh met as youngsters in Jamaica and formed the Wailers -- the music, the message, from a small island to an international stage. Bob eventually became the face of the group and Bunny went his own direction but the love is still strong.

See Interview below.

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Reggae Dying In Nigeria

The seed of Reggae music was planted in Jamaica and made popular by the Legendary Bob Marley. 

Since then, Reggae music has left the shores of Jamaica and practically has a life of its own without diluting its core message.

In the words of Wyclef Jean: “A lot of my music is very Reggae-driven. Half of my life, Bob Marley was all I listened to”. 

Reggae music captures the pressures of everyday life fusing it into irresistible melodies. In Nigeria, the genre used to be on the front row but now has taken a backseat, even when giving birth to an offshoot known as dancehall. However, there are some Nigerian artistes who would not allow the genre to go into extinction and are thus fanning the ember in their own music, which has pretty much deviated from the hard core Reggae. 

2face Idibia Though 2face Idibia is known more as an Afropop and RnB artiste, his love for Reggae music is palpable. Songs like Rain drops, One love reminds you of Bob Marley’s brand of Reggae. The award-winning music icon croons like a bird let off its nest whenever he sings songs with Reggae influences. Reggae lovers are always captivated when the likes of 2face sing songs that capture the emotion of Reggae Timaya Enetimi Alfred Odon a.k.a Timaya is one of the few Nigerian musicians who are still fanning the embers of Reggae music and keeping it alive. Though the message of his songs may not resonate with the message of Reggae, but he makes up for it with his Reggae driven melodies.

When you listen to songs like Bow Down, Bum Bum, and Plantain Boy, you may think you are listening to Peter Tosh. He has been able to create his own style without losing the Reggae flavour. Patoranking Patoranking broke into the Nigerian music industry with his hit song Alubarika in 2013.The song speedily spread like wildfire and gained massive airplays. At a time when Reggae music is losing relevance and Afropop taking center stage, Alubarika became a song that reveals the everyday struggle of the man on the street. The song starts off with a bouncy Reggae beat and hints at the importance of God’s blessings. 

“I want to touch lives and give hope to the hopeless with my music” Patoranking once said. Cynthia Morgan Have you listened to Cynthia Morgan’s German Juice, Baby mama and Popori? You will definitely feel the vibes of Reggae in the songs. Though she has been criticized for the usage of Jamaican patois in her music, the voluptuous singer continues to infuse it in her song fervently. 

The red hair-wearing artiste has said that her patois comes natural to her, even before her manager got her a patois dictionary. Burna Boy Burna Boy is the poster child for Nigerian dancehall music. The Rivers State-born singer has a baritone voice that appeals to his fans who are enamoured by his brand of dancehall. From Yawa Dey,Soke, and Dor Gongon the talented performer said his early reggae influence came from his dad. 

“My dad used to play Reggae and Afrobeats. The first Reggae song I heard was in his car. The first CD we had was a mix of all different types of dancehall. I am pretty much a product of my environment” General Pype General Pype is one of the most underrated, yet talented Nigerian artistes. 

These days it’s difficult to detect the influences of Reggae in contemporary Nigerian music, but the likes of General Pype have constantly showed off this genre in their music. From Victorious man, Champion and Lovers Rock, the seven-star General shows off his pleasant-sounding dancehall vocals in the songs. General Pype is known for the depth of his lyrics and unique delivery. 16 0 0 

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Jamaica Reggae SumFest Only Local Acts

Organizers of the annual Reggae Sumfest have announced that there will be no overseas acts on this year’s lineup.

But the big question among regular patrons is can local acts alone do it. Reggae Sumfest usually bills one or two international big name artist for the event. In the past stars such as Rihanna, Beyonce, Ashanti, Usher, Chris Brown, and more have graced the stage at Sumfest.

Joe Bogdanovich Bought Reggae Sumfest Now The New Chairman

This year will be a lot different with Downsound head Joe Bogdanovich taking over the helm of the event through his acquisition.

“The kind of cost and money that is spent on international acts has become prohibitive,” Bogdanovich said. “We’d rather not spend money on the outside, but to support our own.”

Summerfest Productions outgoing executive Director, Johnny Gourzong, added that it usually cost organizers as much as US$2 million (J$248 million) to secure international acts for the show and that is driving ticket costs up.

“The time had come where we wanted to rebrand, and with Mr Bogdanovich’s transition into the company, it was just the right timing to rebrand Reggae Sumfest as a Reggae festival,” Gourzong said. “Dancehall has always been strong and we have always been very strong with the dancehall, and it will remain so, but there has been a whole renaissance of the reggae music. There has been a big revival in reggae music and the patrons, especially the tourists, will be coming out to see our top reggae acts in performance.”

Reggae Sumfest will also be scaled down from three nights to two nights. The 2016 staging will be held from July 17-23 at the Catherine Hall entertainment complex in Montego Bay.

The event will also be live stream for the first time.

Do you think local acts alone can bring a large crowd to Reggae Sumfest? Sound off in comments below.

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Reggae Classics You Did Not Know Were Covers

Reggae is synonymous with the beautiful island of Jamaica, potent marijuana, and Rastafari.

Reggae derived from the offspring of African slaves who were suffering from residue of a vicious plantocracy society. Reggae began in the Kingston slums of  Trench Town, Rema, Back-O-Wall and Jungle .

Ironically, unknown to most fans of reggae, the industrial capitalist country of America played just as much a role in the creation of reggae as the culture of Jamaica and the Rastafarian Nyahbingi chants Jamaicans once despised.

Ska, rocksteady, and reggae were influenced directly by American musical genres prevalent during their inceptions. This influence was and is evident in the number of classic reggae songs that are actually cover versions of American songs.

Prior to Independence, Jamaicans mostly listened to Southern American radio stations they picked up on their transistor radios. The sounds coming from Louisiana and other Southern states were soul, blues, jazz, and country.

Bob Marley did not grow up listening to reggae because reggae did not exist; he grew up listening to Elvis Presley, Nat King Cole, Sam Cooke, The Impressions, Louie Jordan, and Fats Domino. This MusicOfJamaica-2016influence has resulted in numerous covers of American and British songs by Jamaican artists. Very few listeners and even lovers of reggae are aware that their favorite reggae song may be a cover.

I am constantly surprised at the number of songs I believed were originals that are actually covers. The shock rests in Jamaicans’ ability to trump the original with their rendition.

We compiled a list of what we at LIVITY.INFO and I NEVER KNEW TV believe are Top 10 Reggae Classics that are actually covers of American or British songs. Please click on the video below the page  for visuals of the artist. Enjoy!!!

10. John Holt – Love I Can Feel/ Temptations- I Want A Love  I Can See

This song written and produced by Smokey Robinson, performed by the Temptations in 1964 was never a fan favorite. However ,John Holt found amazing success when he did this song for Studio One in 1970, making it a rocksteady anthem. The ‘ I Love I Can Feel’ instrumental known in the reggae industry as a ‘riddim’ has also produced hits for Tony Rebel, ‘Fresh Vegetable’; Tony Tuff, ‘First Time I Met You’; and Beres Hammond, ‘Tempted to Touch.’

9. Busy Signal- One More Night/ Phil Collins – One More Night 

Phil Collins, a recipient of mostly every musical award one could receive, penned this song in 1984. Busy Signal known for his hardcore dancehall lyrics, shocked everyone with his rendition which became a smash hit for him in 2010.

8. Sugar Minott- Good Thing Going / Michael Jackson- Good Thing Going

‘The Producers,’ a group of writers and producers for Motown who were responsible for the majority of the hits for the Jackson 5,  wrote this song that was released on Michael Jackson’s second solo album ‘Ben’ in 1972. This song features the beautiful voice of a young Jackson without his brothers. Reggae legend Sugar Minot recorded his version in 1981. This song was Minott’s biggest commercial hit assisted by distribution by RCA, reaching number 4 on the UK Singles Chart in March 1981.

7.  Ken Boothe – Everything I Own / David Gates and Bread- Everything I Own

The world was re-introduced to this classic when Boy George performed it, giving him his first hit of his solo career after leaving Culture Club. Ken Boothe received the acknowledgment as the creator due to Boy George’s reggae style in the song. However, the original was written by David Gates of Bread in 1972. Ken Boothe’s version reached number 1 in UK singles chart in 1974.

6.  Bunny Wailer – Dream Land / El Tempo- My Dream Island (1963)

Of all the songs on the list, this was the most shocking to me ~ Bunny Wailer’s recorded ‘Dreamland’ with the Wailers. The 1976 version for his classic ‘Black Heart Man’ album is what  people are familiar with. This mystical song speaks of a utopian paradise were the inhabitants live forever. Marcia Griffiths, ‘The Queen of Reggae,’ also has a moving rendition of this song. The original is from a do-wop group named the El Tempos originally recorded in 1963.

5.  The Techniques – Queen Majesty / Impression- Queen of the Minstrel

Curtis Mayfield and Impressions have influenced many reggae groups from the Heptones to the Wailers. This cover has produced an array of hit songs using the ‘Queen Majesty Riddim’. The most notable versions being Tenor Saw ‘Roll Call,’ U-Roy ‘Chalice in the Palace,’ and Sizzla‘ Just One of Those Days.’ This cover version captures the genius of Jamaican musicians to restructure a song while keeping its essence.

4.  Maxi Priest- Wild World / Cat Stevens- Wild World

Wild World was a smash hit for both Cat Stevens and Maxi Priest. Stevens wrote and released this song about departing lovers  in 1970 to critical acclaim. Maxi Priest released his version in 1988. His version propelled his to career being viewed as one of Britain’s top reggae singers.

3.  UB40- Red Red Wine / Neil Diamond- Red Red Wine

UB40’s career was built on doing covers of reggae songs, though their biggest hit was actually a cover from Neil Diamond’s classic ‘ Red Red Wine.’ UB40’s version has transcended time and is still in heavy rotation on American and English pop stations.

2. Third World- Now That We Found Love/ O’Jays- Now that We Found Love

Gamble and Huff wrote this international hit for the O’Jays in 1973. The Third World band took this song to new heights in 1978. Their version peaked at #10 on the UK charts and # 47 on the Billboard Hot 100.

1. Bob Marley – One Love / Impressions- People Get Ready

“One Love” was named ‘Song of the Century’ by TIME magazine.  Most people are unaware that this song is a cover from the Impressions. Curtis Mayfield, who was aware of reggae artists who covered many of his songs, always marveled at their ability to totally recreate the song. He believed Jamaica had some of the world’s greatest musicians. Bob Marley originally recorded a ska version of this song in 1965. The world fell in love with the reggae version recorded in 1977 that appears on the ‘EXODUS’ album.

Honorable Mentions:

Bob Marley – Selassie Chapel / The Orioles- Crying in the Chapel

Norma Frazer, Kasheif Lindo -First Cut is the Deepest – Cat Stevens- First Cut is the Deepest

Tarrus Riley – Stay With You / John Legend – Stay With You

 

See Below For I Never Knew TV’s compilation of these reggae classics and artsts:

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