Where does the time go? The Lake Worth ReggaeFest, Bryant Park’s Little Reggae Festival That Could, is now in its fifteenth year. And in a move fitting for its longevity, the festival has now added an extra day. That’s right; if you’ve attended previous year’s editions and are accustomed to the Saturday afternoon kickoff, this year you could be attending the ReggaeFest right now instead of just reading about it. But since you’re here anyway, here are some of the highlights:
An Earlier Start: As mentioned above, this year’s festival has already begun, with a DJ (probably not the “toasting” type) at 5:00 p.m, followed by local band Ras Kokay & Rythmadix, who should be onstage now if the schedule holds. Later this evening (at 8:30), Miami artist Bradley Brown, who has opened for such acts as Dennis Brown, Culture and Gregory Isaacs, will take the stage.
California Fusion: SoCal reggae/rock outfit Dirty Heads is the headliner for Saturday night (at 8:30). The Orange County band has toured with artists such as 311 and Matisyahu; their 2008 independent debut, Any Port In A Storm, spawned a single “Lay Me Down” which spent eleven weeks at No. 1 in Billboard’s Alternative Chart, garnering them a shout-out from Rolling Stone as one of the best new bands of that year.
Ernie Smith’s Offspring: The Marley family isn’t the only reggae clan with multiple generations. Self-described “Big Band Reggae” outfit The Resolvers is fronted by Ojay and Sahara Smith, whose songwriting father Ernie Smith was a reggae pioneer. The band also features a horn section, and has toured with other 2nd-generation reggae artists such as Stephen and Julian Marley.
Third World: From a musicianship point-of-view, it doesn’t get better than this in reggae music. Right from their start in the mid-70s, this legendary band was considered to have some of the best musicians in reggae, as evidenced by their selection to back Bob Marley on the recording of “Keep On Moving”. Hits such as “Now That We’ve Found Love” (later covered by rapper Heavy D) and “Try Jah Love” have endeared them to music fans in Jamaica and around the world, so don’t miss a golden opportunity to see one of the greatest bands that reggae has ever produced.
… and don’t forget the after-parties: Even after the festival is over, some of Palm Beach’s best reggae band can be heard at the after-parties being held at Lake-Worth hipster venue Propaganda . Check out Spred The Dub this evening and the horn-driven ska of The Hard Richards Saturday night.
For more information on ReggaeFest, go to the festival’s website
Longtime readers of this blog will have read a previous post on Art After Dark in West Palm Beach. At the time, the after-hours event at the Norton Museum of Art was only held once a month; now AAD occurs every Thursday at 5:00 p.m., which is normally the museum’s closing hour. This weekly incarnation has been going on for well over a year now, but its profile was recently raised by an extended version of the event staged to mark the summer solstice. The regular AAD session ends at 9:00 p.m., but the Summer Soulstice edition ran until midnight, with live music in four different areas throughout the museum.
And that was just the beginning of a long hot summer for AAD. The following week’s event featured a performance by award-winning blues guitarist Albert Castiglia, fresh off the release of his latest CD. For Fourth of July week, AAD focused on music films such as Cameron Crowe’s semi-autobiographical movie Almost Famous, and The Last Waltz, Martin Scorsese’s documentary of The Band’s final concert. The July 12th event honoured Bastille Day with a French-themed evening, headlined by French cabaret singer Annie Royer.
For the July 19th event, the wheel has come full circle as far as this blog’s coverage of AAD is concerned. Once again reggae/rock band B-Liminal will be featured, in a performance from 7-9. But the moment will be somewhat bittersweet, since it will be one of the band’s final shows. Also performing is indie-rock band Franscene.
This blog will continue to publicize the highlights of upcoming sessions, but for a full listing of the AAD summer schedule, please visit the event’s page on the Norton’s website
The final day of Sunfest was hot both onstage and off, as a massive crowd sweated through a sweltering afternoon while Miami’s hottest rapper Pitbull rocked it out onstage. Later that day, a touring lineup of classic-rock outfit Foreigner put on a high-energy show on the Tire Kingdom stage, whilst Hebrew-reggae artist Matisyahu brought a peaceful vibe to the FPL Stage at the southernmost end of the festival. Read the full report of these sets at the Reggae Reflection website.
[Typist Notes: Prior to obtaining photo passes for the Reggae Reflection coverage of Sunfest 2012, your local music-writer-about-town took notes on the the first night's headliners, The Counting Crows]
This Bay-Area band started off its set with one of its first big hits, “Round Here” from its 1993 debut, the well-received August and Everything After. The setlist then jumped to the present day, with the band’s current single ”Untitled (Love Song)” from the 2012 release Underwater Sunshine (Or What We Did on Our Summer Vacation). Rather than the typical set of compositions from frontman Adam Duritz, this current album is a collection of covers, mostly of obscure material from the band’s influences. Amongst the selections from this album include “Four White Stallions”, originally recorded by the Patrick Winningham band.
The stage was littered with so many musical instruments, it could have been mistaken for a music store, and the band used every one of them in performing material such as the early hit “Omaha” and the world-weary ballad “Long December”, featuring Duritz on piano whilst providing a nimble vocal performance.
The band concluded its set with a 3-song encore that included the 2002 ballad Holiday In Spain. But what would have otherwise been a satisfying performance was marred by the omission of the popular track ”Mr. Jones”. Of course, diehard fans can live without hearing a band’s biggest hit in every performance, but the crowd was clearly disgruntled by the absence of this ’90s radio staple. Such are the expectations for a festival appearance, where some audience members might only be familiar with the band’s best-known material.
Reflections on Sunfest, Part III: All-American Rejects, Joan Jett & The Blackhearts, Third Eye Blind
[Typist Notes: The Type Writer has been slacking a little bit with keeping up with this series of blogs about his Sunfest collaboration with Reggae Reflection but he had a good excuse: he had to go to Vegas for his day job. Honest. But more on that in a later post...]
All-American Rejects kicked off the evening festivities with a bang, giving a performance just as revved-up as the band’s festival debut in 2007. Another act seen previously by The Type Writer was Joan Jett & The Blackheart, who your favourite scribe had caught previously at a much smaller venue: the lobby of the Hard Rock Hotel in Orlando, as part of the monthly Velvet Sessions. But apparently Joan is an artist who rises to the occasion, as her Sunfest performance far outstripped that previous show in terms of raucous energy. Last but not least was San Francisco rockers Third Eye Blind, who played a hit-filled set, complete with a much-extended and sample-enhanced drum solo for the group’s 1997 single, Jumper.
Get all the gory details over here at the Reggae Reflection website…
I’m still busy supplying my Sunfest press partner Reggae Reflection with text for their Sunfest posts, so while I still plan to post my own versions of those articles here, feel free to check their posts in the meantime. The latest article is a recap of Saturday afternoon performers SOJA and Michael Franti & Spearhead. During the Michael Franti set, I got to be on the other side of the camera, as I posed with friends for an audience shot, shown below.
The photo was taken by Empress K, Reggae Reflection’s principal photographer and editor. Hanging around my neck in this shot is the precious Sunfest photo pass which authorized me to enter the camera pit between the stage and audience for the first three songs of every set. At that proximity to the performers, even modest cameras like my digital point-and-shoot can capture decent shots like the one above, so being in the camera pit was an eye-opening experience. We were required to return our passes to the media desk at the end of each night if we wanted to be issued new ones the following day. This might have been a challenge for a disorganized neophyte photojournalist like myself, but luckily Empress K was enough of an experienced hand to keep us from getting our credentials yanked mid-festival…
Keep watching this space for more Sunfest-related posts…
After a, ahem, lengthy pause for life happening, everybody’s favourite South Florida local-music blog is finally back in business, covering the 30th anniversary edition of Sunfest, West Palm’s 5-day waterfront music event that is the largest outdoor music festival in the state. While this blog has reviewed Sunfest performances before, this year’s collaboration with Boston-based reggae website Reggae Reflections has yielded unprecendented access to prime photo-shooting areas. In other words, we got pictures, baby! And in return, we gave Empress K, RR’s photographer/editor/publisher, lots of good type. The first results of this partnership can be seen over on their website in reviews of Wiz Khalifa, Herbie Hancock and Snoop Dogg, but don’t worry, little Typeheads, there’ll be articles on this site as well (And pictures. Lots of Pictures. Did we mention we got pictures?). So keep watching this page, ’cause it will be ch-ch-ch-changing all the time this week. Stay tuned…