No Reggae, No Cry
The 12th Monterey Bay Reggaefest makes it simple to enjoy a strong lineup.
Thursday, August 30, 2007
Back in 1995, Seaside resident Robert Brown and fellow promoter Pete Rodriguez decided to throw the first Monterey Bay Reggaefest. Brown, a former band manager for the reggae act Ras Midas, ended up securing a strong lineup of artists, including The Mighty Diamonds and Pato Banton.
With about 1,800 people showing up for the six-hour show, the first Monterey Bay Reggaefest ended up being a modest accomplishment. But as Brown scrambled around trying to organize a second festival in 1996, he unexpectedly suffered a heart attack and passed away.
Following Brown’s untimely death, the first festival’s crafts vendor organizer Andre Smith decided to try and keep the Reggaefest going. Under the name of A & P Productions, which is short for Andre and his wife Pamela, the second concert featured a full day of reggae music with appearances by Burning Spear and, back-by-popular-demand, Pato Banton.
Since then, the Smiths have struggled each year to bring yet another installment of the festival to the Monterey Fairgrounds. “[Andre] starts out with just two pennies to rub together,” Pamela says. “Every year, by the grace of God, we pull it off.”
Actually, back in 2003, A&P Productions failed to get a contract to have the Reggaefest at the Fairgrounds. They looked into the possibility of moving the concert to another venue, but, in the end, decided to cancel the show for 2003. “We were very disappointed,” Pamela says. “We licked our wounds and went camping.”
Pamela says she has seen the attendance numbers growing gradually every year since they got the concert kick- started back up in 2004. Meanwhile, last year’s Reggaefest ended up stretching out into a three day event, a feat that will be repeated this year.
While there have been many hardships with putting on the show each fall, Pamela says somehow the concert always comes to fruition. ‘This is something that the Lord wants here,” she says.
Here’s a look at a few of this year’s highlights:
Being a towering 6-feet, 6-inches high is only one reason why Eek-A-Mouse stands out in the reggae genre. Eek-A-Mouse’s unique vocal turns are a combination of singing and toasting, and he oftentimes peppers his songs with nonsense words. Along with the title track, the 1982 album Wa Do Dem include Eek-A-Mouse’s “Ganja Smuggling,” a song that recounts a drug deal with a reporter’s eye for detail. His great 1991 release U-Neek is known for a playful cover of Led Zeppelin’s
Eek-A-Mouse plays Friday at 6:30pm.
THE MIGHTY DIAMONDS
Formed way back in 1969, The Mighty Diamonds are a vocal trio that applies the rich vocals of American soul groups to reggae music. While the band did attempt a hybrid reggae and R&B album called Ice on Fire in 1977, The Mighty Diamonds are most popular for their straight reggae numbers like “Pass the Kutchie,” which was later redone by Musical Youth as the 1982 hit “Pass the Dutchie.”
The Mighty Diamonds play Friday at 8:30pm.
The most popular Jamaican artist in the ‘80s, Barrington Levy mixes roots reggae with dancehall on hits like the driving dub-like “Under Mi Sensi.” In the early ‘90s, Levy attempted to gain an American audience with songs including “Murderer,” and though he started performing way back in 1977, the unique vocalist’s career continues to move forward due in part to his collaborations with contemporary artists Snoop Doggy Dogg and Handsome Boy Modeling School, where he had a memorable vocal turn on “The World’s Gone Mad” alongside Del the Funky Homosapien and Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand.
Barrington Levy plays Saturday at 6:30pm.
The 31-year-old son of reggae icon Bob Marley, Ky-Mani debuted on the music scene with 1996’s Like Father Like Son, a collection of covers of his dad’s songs. His 2001 release Many More Roads was nominated for a Grammy but ended up losing to his brother Damian’s Halfway Tree. In addition to his lineage, Ky-Mani is perhaps best known for his reworking of Eddie Grant’s “Electric Avenue” with Pras of The Fugees.
Ky-Mani plays Sunday at 6:30pm.
A popular reggae vocal group with a shifting lineup, the Wailing Souls were backed by the Wailers on their early hits “Walk Walk Walk” and “Harbour Shark.” Since then, the Wailing Souls have garnered eight Grammy nominations and worked frequently with legendary reggae producers Sly & Robbie. The group is known for its wide range of covers, including The Who’s “My Generation” and The Beatles’ “Tomorrow Never Knows.”
The Wailing Souls play Sunday at 8:30pm.
The Monterey Bay Reggaefest takes place 3 to 10pm Friday and 11am to 10pm Saturday and Sunday at the Monterey Fairgrounds, 2004 Fairground Rd., Monterey. $25/Friday; $28/Saturday; $28/Sunday; $75/three-day pass. 394-6534 or mbayreggaefest.net.