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The fourth annual Miami Reggae Festival at Peacock Park is an annual event Hosted by Rockers Movement. This year’s event was subtitled – One Love Nutrifest because it was also an integration of the principals that are at the root of reggae music – our connectedness as world citizens. The organizers partnered with sponsors to collect food for the hungry and to promote Healthy Livity and the Zero Waste Initiative.
There was a committed effort to Reduce, Reuse and Recycle with volunteers visible and regular reminders to the audience to pick up not only after themselves. There was a children’s play area that was fenced in, an art experience area for the young or young at heart and live artists onstage painting pieces during the performances.
Music between performances was in the capable spinning hands of Don One Musical Showcase, Cornerstone Sounds and Lance O of Kulcha Shok Muzik.
Lance O also emceed and was his usual lively and engaging self, speaking bi-lingually throughout and showing off the occasional skank move. To be clear, he did not simply swap out a word or two in an English sentence with the Spanish translation – Lance O actually spoke (as in entire sentences) Spanish to the audience as well as English. Although I am not actually bi-lingual I was able to understand most of what he said in Spanish – probably due to exposure to the language over the years. It was unifying to jam to Reggae, speak our native languages and raise awareness to protect our planet and environment. The music was reggae – not reggaeton. There was some apprehension for at least one group of concert goers that I spoke with. They were there because they love reggae but wasn’t sure if it would be “real reggae” or reggae-ton because the lineup included artists from so many Spanish-speaking countries. They were pleasantly surprised.
The festival featured ten Reggae acts representing nine countries: Bachaco (Venezuela), Causion (Antigua), Carroll Thompson (United Kingdom), Black Slate (United Kingdom), Gondwana (Chile), Midnite (St.Croix!USVI), Natiruts (Brazil), Tiken Jah Fakoly (Africa’s Ivory Coast), Stephen Marley (Jamaica) and Cultura Profética (Puerto!Rico).
The performances were all energetic and entertaining. This was one of the rare concerts where every performer seemed to give 100% to the crowd. Too often, earlier acts at such a show, seem…routine, leaving the crowd only mildly energized until the last 2 or three acts. This was different, each performer came out as if they were the headline act – giving the audience energy and vibes. Having said that, it is difficult to say which performance was best. Each brought their own best to the stage, from the smooth style and English-Yardie vibes of Caroll Thompson through the roots vibe that transcended language barriers with Natiruts. Although Natiruts speaks little English, he was able to communicate with the audience and the audience was giving back all of that energy vibe – it was a beautiful thing.
Bachaco’s performance was notable for the verve despite being so early in the show that the audience wasn’t yet filled out. The group came onstage with vibes and good feeling and drew the scattered audience closer to the stage.
Causion cmae out with his typical flair. Antigua’s reggae ambassador did not disappoint as he kept the crowd rocking with tunes we all know like African Girl and cuts from his new album
Stephen Marley’s performance was especially electrifying because he brought out his brothers Kymani, Julian and Damion to perform with him. This was a special treat for the crowd. The brothers performed well and brought friends and children onstage near the end – creating a real family feeling. The spirit of Bob was surely invoked and tangible.
Cultura Profetica was the headline act and the audience was visibly excited as their performance began. They came out and were very obviously feeling ‘at home’ as they were welcomed like old friends by the audience.
Having attended this festival in previous years I can assert that it gets better each year. Stage, sound and lighting production were crisp and professional. The added elements of the expanded children’s area and the health and environmental focus made this year’s concert the best one yet. Be sure to keep your ears and eyes open for next year’s Miami Reggae Festival – it is usually just before Thanksgiving and will surely be worth giving thanks for.
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