LMB’s newest guest writer Teddy made it out to the 2005 Reggae on the River last week, and he filed this report from the frontlines:

On the first weekend in August for the past 22 years in Southern Humboldt County, the Mateel Community Center has staged the finest reggae and people-watching site on the planet.

As a seasoned concert-goer, the first I noticed about Reggae on the River was the insanely diverse group of 20,000 folks in attendance. All ages and are represented, which is a welcome change from the usual cast of 20-something wookies, frat boys, and trustafarians I see everywhere else. The entire vibe of the weekend reflects this variety – everyone has a perma-grin on, random cheers roll throughout the festival grounds along the Eel River, and many a passing stranger shouts “Happy Reggae!” in sheer jubilation.


The bulk of this joy comes straight from the itself. On Friday, the laid-back, peaceful crowd enjoyed a myriad of tunes, from the tripped-out dancehall grooves of Junior “One Blood” Reid, the funky stylings of , to the eclectic electronic dance beats of Transglobal Underground.

Saturday showcased several fusion acts like Rupee – a pioneer of high-energy party out of the Caribbean called “soca” ( + calypso), Tony Rebel – one of the first to unite roots and dancehall reggae, and two of ’s sons: Stephen and Damain – who jammed on their own material in addition to some of their father’s classics.

Sunday also featured a fresh and dynamic mix of performers Daara J – African over traditional Senegalese music, – who never fail to deliver an up-beat show, and the explosive Anthony B. – Rastafarian hardcore dancehall.

Whatever energy I danced my way out of during the hot days, the river replenished a dip in the upper swimming- surrounded by redwoods dotting the hills. After all, what would Reggae be without the River. When the festival moves up-stream next year for the first time in its history, the will follow, but I’m pushing for “hooreggae!” as the exuberant slogan to welcome the new era.


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