Date: Saturday & Sunday, February 18th/19th 2012
Line up: Don Carlos, Alborosie, Sister Nancy, Big Mountain, Johnny Osbourne, Junior Reid and more
Location: The Broadway Pier. San Diego, CA (Tribute to the Reggae Legends)
On the weekend of February 18th & 19th, San Diego, California held tribute to the Reggae Legends in a two-day festival that fell over the holiday of President’s Day weekend. The line up included big name acts such as Don Carlos, Big Mountain, Alborosie & many more! The San Diego World Beat Center organized the entire event while the legendary Makeda Dread, and DJ Carlos Culture of San Diego acted as hosts, and organizers during the entire weekend.
The event was a success in making the weekend an unforgettable, life changing, and respectful time for all. The Broadway Pier, provided ample space for two stages, the main stage being indoors, and the side stage being outdoors. There were vendors selling handcrafted goods, jewelry, hats, and other reggae/African inspired attire.
Myself, and Pier Photographer David Norris, were backstage mingling with the biggest names in Reggae music, taking photo’s & notes while listening to music I have only dreamed of being a live part of; appreciating every element of the show.
Due to the fact that I was given an all access pass for both nights, I was able to spend more intimate and relaxed time with the musicians backstage. The welcoming and extremely respectful attitude that all of the musicians displayed, was just one of the elements that made an impact on the weekend. Noticing the way that several of the musicians and entourage carried themselves made me wonder, is the Rasta the righteous gangster?
Their presence, way of speaking, seeing, movement, and spoken word were heartfelt, genuine, and appeared to be a gift from their very creator. It brings a different element to the music that was being performed. The music is coming from a place that is honest, and true, which ultimately transcends to all the listeners, keeping us coming back for more.
The local talents that this year’s festival brought in combination with world class musicians was awe inspiring. Roots Covenant, a local Reggae group from San Diego comprised of members from Stranger, and B*Side Players were on stage with Sister Nancy Saturday night, and Johnny Osbourne Sunday night.
Also reppin’ San Diego, was Tribal Theory and Shoreline Rootz, both who played their sets on the outdoor stage. Saturdays main stage held legends President Brown, Big Mountain, Sister Nancy, J.Boog, Yellowman, and the ultimate, Don Carlos.
Due to problems at the airport, Sister Nancy’s set was cut to twenty-five minutes. Despite her lack of time, her backup musicians, Roots Covenant did an amazing job keeping the crowd pleased until she arrived in glory and immense style. She had just enough time to wrap up her set the classic “Bam Bam”.
Yellowman is by far one the most energetic and passionate performers of dance-hall reggae music that I have ever seen. On stage he displayed Non-stop skankin’, running up and down while dressed head to toe in a camouflage uniform, including camouflaged converse high tops, and a militant style hat. His energy was incomparable up until the very last toe touch.
To refuel, there were several food trucks and tents selling fresh juice, Jamaican style cuisine that smelled heavenly, and two beer gardens providing the drinkers with a local brew from Stone Brewing Company. At eight dollars a beer, the price was steep, but that didn’t stop people from enjoying themselves and their beers.
Big Mountain came into the festival celebrating their 20th year of reggae music making. They celebrated their 20th with an excited audience both nights of the festival. Giving their heart and soul in songs that we all know and love such as “Baby, I love Your Way”, they also won the crowd over with new music that took the crowd in stride a midst the nights energy. James McWhinney of Big Mountain was proud to be playing in San Diego as he exclaimed to the crowd of “The Culture and Roots that San Diego brings to people”.
Wrapping up the party on Saturday night, Don Carlos pulled the night together with an amazing end. His band, Dub Vision, dressed in all black dress suits providing a nice back drop for Mr. Carlos, who dawned a white dress coat & dress shirt lined with music notes and shiny black shoes. His attire alone addressed his opening statement of uniting black and white. His immediate noticeable style and tender smile, emanated this man’s reasons for becoming legendary. A true roots man with a rasta vibration, sang Don Carlos, and he showed it. Don Carlos and his touring group, FireWire, along with Dub Vision, are continuing on the road after San Diego and is a set not to be missed. Jafada, from JamaicanMonProductions who produces Don Carlos, assisted the Pier in access to the festival on Saturday night, and without the dedication and hard work from these men, exposure to the festival would not have happened.
Sunday’s line up was just as impressive as the previous days, and something in the air made Sunday feel extra special. Headlining Sunday was Johnny Osbourne, Junior Reid, and Alborosie. In addition Sunday saw talent from Sister Carol, The Wailing Souls, and the Itals.
Alborosie’s set was one of the most memorable reggae shows I have ever witnessed. The Italian born, Jamaica living artist’s intensity and connection to the crowd had me fixated on how he did it. Speaking with Alboroise after his set in an exclusive interview with The Pier, it began to make more sense. Alborosie is himself on stage, and a reggae artist at heart. He mentioned his sensitivity to feelings, and his own personal suffering which allows him to be a stronger musician from his experiences.
Alborosie blessed the stage, and in turn the stage blessed him. Joints were thrown from every direction, and clouds of smoke filled the air. Security guards turned a blind eye, and did absolutely nothing to thwart the efforts of the green leaf smokers; another perk of the weekend. This weekend would have not been possible without the assistance from VP Records, Ryan Dilley. Keep an eye out for new Alborosie music produced with VP Records as he was was also promoting his latest release, “2 Times Revolution “.
Bringing the festival to a wrap, Junior Reid and his reggae influenced hip hop melodies rocked the house. Junior Reids connections and history with Black Uhuru provided a surprise for the crowd when Don Carlos, Lloyd Hemmings, and Garth Dennis all made an appearance on stage, for an impromptu Black Uhuru revival of “Shine Eye Gal”, and “Guess Whose Coming to Dinner”.
Headlining Sunday night, was Johnny Osbourne, Jamaican born Dancehall and famed reggae musician. Opening Osbournes set was Wayne Smith, who is legendary in the era of ragga and reggae music. To the crowd’s surprise, halfway through Osbournes set, Sista Carol, the queen of Reggae made a guest appearance. Osbourne and Carol on stage, together, highlighted the evening, bringing me to a feeling of reverence and respect for the lives, work, and message these musicians were sharing on stage. Providing the instrumentals for these two sets was the previously mentioned local San Diego group, Roots Covenant.
In retrospect, the weekend brought much respect to the musicians who have dedicated their lives to their music and community. It was an event that was held by the people, for the people, with the people. It was incredible moment for the entire Broadway Pier. It was one of the times that you didn’t want to end. The reggae fan is just a different breed. We hold a sense of conscious, respect, and deep-rooted musical qualities that encourages our listening ability to all parts of the music. Along with a passion for the sound and message that this music gives us, we are above all a community. An international community, that no matter where you go, you will find a person to connect with.
Article By: Allie Gordon
Photos By: David Norris
Pier Endorsements with J Boog, Big Mountain, Garth Dennis…