Truly a global musical event, the Mateel Community Center’s 28th annual Reggae on the River will light up Benbow Lake State Recreation Area in Garberville on the weekend of July 21 and 22 with an exciting blend of reggae and world music talent from the far corners of the earth.
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Featuring a line-up consisting of more than 30 classic and cutting edge artists on two stages, the festival will celebrate Jamaica’s 50th anniversary of independence from imperial rule and will honor this momentous occasion by presenting some of the island’s best talent.
These festivities will include performances by next generation rising stars like Romain Virgo; Duane Stephenson; Turbulence; a rare U.S. appearance by the triple-platinum recording artist and reigning queen of Jamaican dancehall, Lady Saw; stalwart performers like Fantan Mojah and Yami Bolo; elder statesmen such as Winston Jarrett; and the one and only Toots and The Maytals, the artist credited with coining the term “reggae” with his 1968 hit, “Do the Reggay.”
The festival will also feature a rich selection of artists from the fertile soils of St. Croix, one of strongholds of modern reggae music, with sets by the island’s two premier bands, Midnite and Bambu Station, along with debut ROTR performances by two of the island’s most exciting female vocalists, Reemah and Lady Passion.
Coming all the way from Argentina to represent South America’s burgeoning reggae scene is Alika, a nominee for Best Independent Artist at the 2009 MTV Music Awards and a beautiful bi-lingual vocalist known as her nation’s “queen of reggae and dancehall.”
From the continent of Africa, the festival will showcase one of Zimbabwe’s most prolific artists, Oliver Mtukudzi and Black Spirits, who has released more than 57 albums since his start in 1975 and is also recognized as one of the Africa’s greatest humanitarian artists for his groundbreaking work to combat HIV/AIDS.
Also featured will be the emerging talent of South Africa’s Nkulee Dube. The daughter of reggae legend, Lucky Dube, she fuses ethno-soul, jazz, reggae and African influences and received a whopping six nominations at this year’s 31st annual International World and Reggae Music Awards, where she’ll appear just before coming to ROTR.
The event will also feature a rare West Coast appearance by the legendary Calypso Rose who hails from the island of Tobago. With more than 800 songs to her credit, she is the most prolific and accomplished female calypso artist of all time.
U.K. favorite, Pato Banton, is also back after a hiatus from touring to present his classic British reggae flair in the company of his new ensemble, The Now Generation.
Of course, the festival will also feature a host of top-notch homegrown talent, including the award-winning Native American artist, Casper Loma Da Wa and The Mighty 602 Band of the Hopi Nation in Arizona; Hawaiian faves, Humble Soul and Guidance Band; Miami’s own Streetkind; U.S.-based/Jamaican-bred talent like Tosh Meets Marley, Junior Toots, Winstrong, and Daniel Bambaata Marley; top West Coast acts including Quinto Sol, Indubious, and The Lions; and local faves, Synrgy and Juce.
Additionally, the event will host more than 80 craft, food, and non-profit vendors; a lively kid zone; and a weekend full of happy reggae fun on the banks of the majestic Eel River.
For the full scoop, check out a copy of the official program guide at select newsstands or visit reggaeontheriver.com, where stage schedules, artist bios, sales links and all other festival info can be found.
Tickets are still available at reggaeontheriver.com. Visit the ticket page of the festival Website for a list of ticket outlets and note that advance tickets are advised. Single day tickets will be available at the gate only this year and will be priced at $60 per day even if weekend passes sell out in advance.
For more information about camping options visit the camping page of reggaeontheriver.com and it is advised these reservations be made in advance.
Significant improvements have been made to the festival shuttle service and this complimentary and efficient shuttle will offer the best way to get to and from the event, with regular service and direct routes to the main festival campgrounds, plus the towns of Redway and Garberville. There are also limited free and paid parking options in the town of Benbow.
For more information call the festival office at 707-923-3368 or visit reggaeontheriver.com.