Vowing to give reggae music a major platform in North, South and Central America, Jamaica-born entertainer and promoter, Kass Smith says his upcoming Riviera Nayarit International Reggae Festival is poised to “connect all the dots”.
Slated for three days (May 17-19), at what has been dubbed one of Mexico’s most attractive destinations, the Riviera Nayarit, the festival, according to Smith, will not only be a showcase for reggae music, but will also be a tribute to Bob Marley. Smith, who has been living in Mexico for the past 27 years, said he first held the festival in 2016, known then as the Vallarta Reggae Festival, and saw enough potential to meticulously prepare for a reboot, with a new name and location.
He said that while the festival will be an annual artistic and cultural event, the long-term goal is for it to be a meeting place between Mexico and Jamaica, attracting locals and tourists from the United States, Canada and Central and South America.
“The first festival had a reach in digital media of 575,000 people, and this next edition will have a minimum reach of 1.5 million, mainly in Latin America, almost three times more than the previous edition,” he pointed out. “We are expecting anywhere between 2,000 to 3,000 persons, and we wouldn’t be surprised if we got more, considering the strong national and international promotion we have been doing, plus the feedback we have been getting.”
Smith further noted that he has been getting strong support from the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB). “The JTB as well as the Jamaican Embassy here in Mexico have been lending invaluable support. We also have been carrying out a very strong electronic and social media campaign with the help of an international team, working out of New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Jamaica.”
Marley, Smith said, is the main exponent of reggae music in the world, admired for his defence of social equality, peace, justice, freedom and human rights, and it is fitting that a tribute will be done in his name. “Incidentally, we had his son Ky-Mani on the first festival in 2016. We will again have a very strong Jamaican theme, featuring performances from various reggae artistes from Jamaica and Germany.” Smith added, “The venue is also the ideal area for this type of event,” Smith added. “It has a lot of similarities to Negril in Jamaica due to its laid-back rural ambience.”
Joining Smith onstage will be Nateesha Stream, Jah Wiz, Teacha Dee, the Goade and Brimstone bands. “We are convinced that this event, in addition to promoting the tourist destinations of San Pancho and the Riviera Nayarit, will also expose reggae and the Jamaican culture in a big way. Brand Jamaica will be on full display and the visibility will be a major plus for the country’s tourism industry,” said Smith.