IT’S BEEN a testing time for the UK recently for one reason or another. If your name is Theresa May, you’ve definitely had it tougher than most. The entire Brexit debacle has moved us further and further away from our European neighbours, and some would say from each other as a nation here at home.
Well, fear not. The dominant force of love known as reggae is here and acting as a glue to heal the wounds that these mischievous politicians have opened with the words of attrition.
As an agent and ambassador of the music, I feel it is my duty to give you the highlights of what you can expect from the various excellent festivals around the continent this summer.
Straight off the back of our very own Glastonbury (which always has a smattering of reggae throughout the 130+ stages) comes probably the most prestigious European festival, and this year they have stepped it up even more.
Summerjam takes place in Cologne, Germany and has been going strong for 34 years. The line up is insane and the atmosphere in and around the site is one of pure love and enjoyment.
Get ready to see the cream from around the 360 degrees of reggae – Buju Banton, Jimmy Cliff, Agent Sasco (aka Assassin), Kabaka Pyramid, Koffee, Popcaan and Protoje are just some of the highlights in the three-day affair. It is definitely one not to be missed.
If Dub reggae is your thing, then check out Seasplash in Croatia. If you have never been to Croatia before you may be in for something of a surprise. It’s absolutely beautiful and hot! It is at the crossroads of central and south-east Europe, on the Adriatic Sea.
It borders Slovenia to the northwest, Hungary to the northeast, Serbia to the east and Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro to the southeast.
This year’s festival takes place in the southern town of Dalmatia, and boasts three heavyweights from the dub scene – the legend Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, the UK’s Mad Professor and a former This is Brukout column guest, Scientist. The festival runs from July 18-21.
Sweden is a country that seems to be growing in its love for our music. The excellent Uppsala festival attracts over 10,000 fans and this year it takes place on July 26-28.
Billed as Scandinavia’s premier reggae event and 18 years on (although they had a break for a few years), one of the headliners has already been announced.
Ivorian legend Alpha Blondy, will be bringing his vast experience and festival expertise to Sweden. From Croatia we go to Belgium, where Reggae Geel takes place in early August.
I performed here last year and take my word for it, it was a moment! I hooked up with the Saxon team and we absolutely smashed the place (of course) – again. One of the de nite advantages of this festival is the vibe – artists seem amped to perform here, as its reputation definitely precedes it (positively).
You can’t help but be impressed by the size and scale of the entire event, and the promoters have definitely got the tone right throughout the two-day event. After celebrating 25 years making waves in Spain, Rototom goes into year 26 with high expectation.
They certainly have a task on their hands in trumping last year’s festival! 2018 saw eight days across nine arenas with virtually every reggae taste being catered to – from dancehall to dub, roots yard to Caribbean uptempo.
These guys have virtually thought of everything! In addition to the stages, there is a hugely impressive 24- hour radio station which caters for the surrounding festival area, and the shows are streamed online. It runs from Friday, August 16 to Thursday, August 22,
and takes place in Benicàssim.
Straight from Spain you could hit the road to Bratislava in Slovakia for the mighty Uprising Festival. Slovakia isn’t a name that automatically springs to mind when you speak about areas that love our music, but this gathering is a prime example of the reach and pull it has globally.
It runs from Friday, August 23 to Sunday, August 26 and features some incredible stage production and a true sense of a huge event.
So there you have it – the politicians may not be getting along in Europe, but the world of reggae is absolutely united – the festivals being staged provide an invaluable platform for our music to gain attention, recruit new fans and flourish.
I’m off to Jamaica for some important work, so look out for our ‘live from JA’ reports in the next couple of weeks…