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» GUEST RUNDOWNS » THE FIRST LONG BEACH REGGAE AND JERK FESTIVAL WAS “A DREAM COME TRUE” FOR FANS!

THE FIRST LONG BEACH REGGAE AND JERK FESTIVAL WAS “A DREAM COME TRUE” FOR FANS!

 A section of the crowd which attended the inaugural Long Beach Reggae Music Jerk and Food Festival at the Queen Mary Events Park in Long Beach, California, on Sunday—

POUNDING reggae rhythms and the aroma of spicy jerked food permeated the air last Sunday at Queen Mary Events Park in Long Beach, California, site of the first Long Beach Reggae Music Jerk and Food Festival.

A roots-reggae fan’s dream come true, the event drew a healthy crowd of 3,000.

Its high points were monster performances by singers Admiral Tibet, Johnny Osbourne, and Ken Boothe and an enthusiastic turnout by the city’s jerk community who did brisk business.

Admiral Tibet

Admiral Tibet

Located on the scenic Long Beach waterfront, the venue previously hosted the Raggamuffin Festival which ran for almost 20 years. On Sunday, it was dominated by Jamaican flags as well as booths where fans purchased merchandise of their favourite artiste or Jamaican culture.

For Jamaican music producer and longtime southern California resident Wayne Jobson, the area was in need of such an event.

“We need more shows like this in southern California; we have events at (clubs) The Roxy and House of Blues but reggae needs to be outdoors so people can move around and enjoy the whole vibe,” Jobson told the Jamaica Observer.

Tom Searcy, a 27-year-old American who works with the San Diego-based SoCal website, agreed. It is not often that he and his peers see ‘foundation’ acts like Osbourne and The Abyssinians.

Johnny Osbourne

Johnny Osbourne

“American reggae is big right now, all the kids are playing Rebelution and Iration. But Jamaican reggae, the roots, that’s where it’s at,” he said.

For singer Freddie McGregor, whose Big Ship Music Inc promoted the show, it was an encouraging debut.

“There were a few glitches but we got a lot done. It pretty much worked out how we thought it would. Everybody keep saying, ‘welcome to Long Beach’ so we’ll just keep on building the event,” he said.

Those glitches included technical problems which resulted in an hour-late start. Early on, singer Eskender and southern California band Quinto Sol were lukewarm and it was left to veteran singjay Sister Carol to ignite the crowd with a lively roots set.

The performances from Belize singer Eljai, Chino and Di Genius and U Roy were adequate but Admiral Tibet, Osbourne and Boothe showed the importance of having a catalogue of hit songs.

Ken Boothe

Ken Boothe

In the case of Osbourne and Boothe, their hit songs cut across generations. Both had the audience eating enthralled.

McGregor, another with a cache of hit songs going back to the 1970s, briefly shed his promoter’s hat for a well-received performance. He paved the way for The Abyssinians whose abbreviated set ended with the anthem, Sata Masa Gana, which was sung word-for-word by some who were not born when the song was recorded 45 years ago.

Freddie McGregor

Freddie McGregor

For Melissa, a Kenyan in her mid-20s who has lived in Los Angeles for 15 years, it was a good show. However, she believes it needed a little more youth.

“It was great, but I would have loved to see maybe a Tarrus (Riley) or Jah Cure. Diversity is always good,” she said.

 

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