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» GUEST RUNDOWNS » MAXI PRIEST, GLEN WASHINGTON HEAD THE 17TH ANNUAL MONTEREY BAY REGGAE FEST!

MAXI PRIEST, GLEN WASHINGTON HEAD THE 17TH ANNUAL MONTEREY BAY REGGAE FEST!

Event is labor of love for organizers

If you go

What: 17th annual Monterey Bay Reggae Fest
When: Friday through Sunday
Where: Monterey County Fairgrounds, 2004 Fairground Road, in Monterey.
Cost: $30-$50, plus a can of food to donate for area food banks.
Tickets and information: 831-394-6534 or www.mbayreggaefest.net or visit the Monterey Bay Reggae Fest page on Facebook.com.

 

Thousands of fans are expected to flock to the 17th annual Monterey Bay Reggae Fest this weekend. The three-day festival is dedicated to roots reggae, a genre of music that enjoyed its heyday in the late 1970s, and is synonymous with Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, Burning Spear and others.

Headliner Maxi Priest will perform Saturday. His single “Close to You” zoomed to the top of the U.S. charts in October 1990. He remains the only reggae singer to have a hit single in America.

Other performers include Sanchez (Friday), Glen Washington (Saturday), Capleton (Sunday), Lloyd Brown (Sunday) and Gyptian (Sunday).

Festival organizers have set a goal to collect 25,000 cans of food for area food banks. Each concertgoer will be required to bring two cans of food, plus a festival ticket, to gain admission, said Pam Smith, Monterey Bay Reggae Fest organizer.

The donations will benefit Hope Center in Monterey, the Thomas Carman Food Pantry in Marina and Dorothy’s Place in Salinas.

Glen Washington

The festival turned into a labor of love for Smith, her husband Andre and their three children.

The Smiths have been involved in the festival’s promotion from the beginning, but never intended to be involved this long. Founding festival organizer Robert Brown died suddenly of a massive heart attack in February 1996.

“He was in his 40s and very athletic — a strict vegetarian,” said Smith. “He was having chest pain the night before, went to the doctor’s office, and died in the waiting room.”

The Smiths decided to have a second Reggae Fest in Brown’s honor and then discontinue the event.

“We didn’t plan on doing it this long,” Smith said. “The second year was just a memorial. We thought we were just going to water the seed he planted.”

An army of enthusiastic volunteers stepped in and offered to help, and they’ve been going ever since.

The Reggae Fest is truly a family affair for the Smiths, whose children grew up around the festival. Eldest son Andre James “A.J.” Smith, 29, helps promote the event. Ezra, 23, works as chief of security. Asia, 21, handles artists, checks them in, books their flights and picks them up at the airport. Pam’s brother-in-law, Rene, pitches in and helps as needed.

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