In June 2004, yardy and I were fortunate to attend the Montreal International Reggae Festival, and for those of you who haven’t read our ‘trip report’, we had a blast!! The three day event was filled with anticipation, excitement and many memorable moments while we made new friends and enjoyed the talents of sensational artists.
Throughout the following months, we had many opportunities to reflect on our experiences, such as the brunch sponsored by a fellow boardie ‘Nigel’, meeting up with an old flame, tales of yardy apparently stalking Anthony Anderson, meeting Half Pint during a relaxed moment, and driving back to the hotel with Luciano. We also had plenty of time to plan our time again at the Old Port in July when the second annual Festival opened it’s gates!
This years’ lineup included Mikey Dread, Sugar Minott, John Holt, and some of our personal favourites Abijah, Buntin Neil, Chaka Demus & Pliers, Morgan Heritage and the King himself, Yellowman! The anticipation of our second in a lifetime experience built over the months, until we finally landed at the venue to begin our weekend of incredible enjoyment.
The acts scheduled leading up to each night’s headliners were very precise. Unlike the first year’s glitches, year two maintained their regimen of time allowances for each act and they flowed from one talent to the next. Gone were the technical difficulties. There were no annoying ‘down-times’ between acts. Backstage it was a different matter. This year the producers chose not to maintain a Media Tent, although we feel it made approaching the artists for interviews less personal, and removed the opportunity for agents distribution of promo materials. It was also difficult for journalists –other than TV or Radio hosts- to get the time necessary individually for each artist. Something for organizers to work on for next year.
The crowd this year exceeded last year’s overall attendance on a daily level, but the overly hot Saturday kept many attendees at home until late afternoon, and Sunday produced a heavy rain into the early afternoon, which helped ease the heat, but again kept folks home until the time when the main acts would perform. Unfortunately I missed Killawatt perform, but I’m sure I’ll have plenty of opportunity to see them another time in Montreal. Marvia Providence, Chevelle Franklin and Monty G drew a fairly large crowd for the dynamic Gospel segment, in spite of the threatening clouds.
Missed opportunities – Beenie Man was rumoured to make a surprise appearance while in town, and Denzel was apparently at the gates but couldn’t get through without a pass!
Highlights of the weekend – Shinehead was incredible! Little John was definitely a crowd pleaser! Abijah remembered my name! We got great hugs from Yellowman! We met Eric Blagrove, owner of Ma’s Place and the Festival, so we must encourage you all to support next year and coming years in Montreal and soon in Toronto! Finally, the best of the best, I got to spend plenty (but not enough) time with my favourite boardite family! Yardy you make some wicked dumplings!!
For detailed information on the Montreal International Reggae Festival visit http://www.montrealreggaefestival.com