Photos & Feature by Empress K
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On Saturday, 08/20/2011, The Montreal International Reggae Festival entered it's 8th year with a weekend filled with an outstanding line up of of top Reggae acts aimed to please the young crowd as well as the more mature reggae audience for a fun filled two days of musical enjoyment.   For the Dancehall themed day, clear skies set sail for Montrealers and visitors alike to enjoy the day in this quaint section of the Quays of The Old Port of Montreal , which is located on the banks of the St Lawrence River.   Taking advantage of the beautiful weather and cool scenery of the cobblestoned pathways, I took a stroll around the area to take photos and speak with some of the local business operators.  They shared with me that they were excited to see so many local people out and about enjoying the day in addition to  the typical tourists that one might encounter visiting the city. According to Wikipedia, this bustling area attracts over 7 millions visitors on an annual basis.   Although the start time of the festival  was advertised to be early in the afternoon on Saturday 8/20, it was obvious that the Reggae audience still favors coming out later than schedule states. 




Enjoying The Quays of the Old Port of Montreal

Day One  - 08/20/2011   I Love Dancehall

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A steady stream of patrons flowed into the venue throughout the day.  Since I arrived early, I proceeded to check out the the vending booths to see what local offerings were available.   Numerous vendors lined the sides and back of the fenced in space to display their wares ranging from clothing and jewelry vendors to many food vendors offering tasty Carribbean fare.  Jah One (www.jahone.com), a famous Canadian Based Rasta Clothing Line had their own booth complete with a showcase displaying pictures of many celebrities sporting their brand.   Sea Heart (www.seaheart.com) another Canadian based company was also present. The  owner spent some time describing the history of the Sea Heart and the polished pods in the shape of a heart that make beautiful jewelry pieces.  

I encountered  many fans traveling from Ottawa and Toronto as well as the majority of fans based in Montreal.  While Toronto is just about as far as Boston and  NY, I  did not  meet any US travelers, which surprised me.  While two day passes were offered, a majority of fans I spoke to purchased only the day that suited their  musical tastes rather than to purchase a weekend pass.  


Vendors at the Montreal International Reggae Festival

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Many people including myself had been speculating if Mavado would make his headlining appearance as planned given his latest issues.  Speculation ended about 3:00pm when the DJs announced that Mavado would not perform as planned. About the same time, a press release was issued by the festival citing that Mavado would not be performing due to  circumstances beyond their control.  A long list of Canadian favorites took the stage throughout the late afternoon and early evening.  The later evening set included the more internationally known artists Sustane, and Exco Levi followed by Don Skilachi joining Jahvinci as he performed for the first time in Canada since his departure from the Portmore Empire.  Immediately after his set, Jahvinci made his way back stage as did most of the artists to be interviewed by the media.  With Mavado not present,  Gyptian closed out the first night of the festival with the only set backed by a live band and dancers.  I looked forward to this since I have never had the opportunity to see Gyptian perform with a band and he did not disappoint. Gyptian was in high spirits as he took the stage with his signature growl.  He captivated the audience with his most famous hits and brought out surprise guest Nitty Kutchie.   Gyptian then continued to please the ladies in the audience with a number of favorites including 'Beautiful Lady'  and  the well known international hit, 'Hold You' as the final song of the evening. 


Top Dancehall Artists take the stage by nightfall

Reggae Supporters from Near and Far

Day Two - 08/21/2011   Reggae Legends Rain or Shine

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Day two of the  festival was geared toward a slightly more mature crowd with headliners Third World, Wayne Wonder and Beres Hammond on deck and featured not as many artists as day one. Another noted difference is that most of the artists were backed by live bands.   Weather of course is always going to be an unknown factor for outdoor festivals.  While the first day had only a slight rain shower which passed quickly, it was a gentle reminder of the weather challenges facing day two.   Early on it was clear that weather alone was not going to deter or delay the steady stream of loyal reggae  fans from making their way into the venue well equipped with umbrellas & rain gear that reflected the international flavor of the event.   Having just covered a festival the previous weekend where it also rained, I was prepared with enough rain gear to withstand at least most of the rain.

Iley Dread complete with his full band and background vocalists kicked off the afternoon's schedule.  Next up in the early evening was the legendary band Third World coming on stage to play all their classic hits including, '96 Degrees in the Shade',  'Now that we've Found Love',  and many more favorite songs from their extensive catalog of hits.   Lead Singer Bunny Ruggs pulled out all the stops to engage the crowd throughout their lengthy set.   Demonstrating the band's versatility, drummer Tony 'Ruption' Williams  stepped away from his drum set to take center stage and thrill the audience with an  energetic drum solo set to the beat of the pouring rain.  And to the crowd's further delight,  Stephen Cat Coore brought out his cello and performed his own solo with a wonderful rendition of Bob Marley's 'Redemption Song'.   Long time Montreal favorites Mello G followed by Jah Cutta continued to ramp up the audience for the final set of the evening. 




Worth the wait in the rain......

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Fans eagerly awaited the introduction of the Harmony House Band backing Wayne Wonder and Beres Hammond who were wrapping up their own very successful  "Love Within the Music Tour", which played to a sold out crowd in Toronto the night before.  A sea of umbrellas bounced to the beat of all their classic songs.  Despite the relentless rain especially  during Beres Hammond's set, fans could not have been more pleased with the line up on Sunday and left fully satisfied with a magical evening of reggae music beneath the rain drops.    While the majority of fans were able to hold up under the conditions, my camera would not cooperate and forced me to end my photography about 1/2 hour before the end of evening. I was happy to have been able to photograph Wayne Wonder and Beres Hammond the previous weekend under better  conditions and instead just enjoyed the music for a change of pace.  I am already looking forward to next year and I hope that the US fans take note and start planning their 2012 trip to Montreal  to enjoy the Sights & Sounds of Reggae at the Quays of the Old Port of Montreal.  An experience and location not to be missed. 


Wayne Wonder & Beres Hammond close out the festival

          The journey home  -    Thank you Montreal . 

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Check out the full photo gallery slide show of the festival below. 

 
 
Report by Grace Vanriel, Reggae Reflection Correspondent
Photos by Empress K, Reggae Reflection Editor
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Lakefest CT flyer
On Sunday, August 14, 2011, Hapilos Entertainment, an all inclusive entertainment company based in Jamaica West Indies with a focus on Reggae, Dancehall and Caribbean entertainment in partnership with DNZ Promotions head by one of the few undisputed first ladies of Reggae well known as a DJ, producer and radio personality on Hot 93.7 Radio, Diva Nikki Z produced a super-fantastic outdoor concert billed as the 1st Annual Lakefest in Colchester, CT.  The big risk when producing outdoor concerts is always the possibility of inclement weather and it rained like there was no tomorrow. But when you produce and deliver a top quality  Roots & Culture lineup with headliners to the likes of  Beres Hammond, Etana, Wayne Wonder, Anthony B alongside other fantastic artists and bands such as Derrick Barnett & The Statement Band, Don Minott & The High Voltage Band, Blaq Capone this concert proved that you can count on fans coming.




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In route to the concert with the Reggae Reflection crew it rained so hard that I was convinced that we’d arrive only to find that the concert had been postponed.  Instead we encountered a small but steady flow of people as we passed through the security checkpoint. Once inside the main stage area I was pleasantly surprised to see a decent number of people in front of the stage armed with umbrellas, outfitted in raincoats, standing and seated in folding chairs and others not so prepared in every conceivable sheltered corner of the beautiful and spacious outdoor venue. You don’t usually see so many people out in the rain and that told me that fans had been looking forward to the Lakefest concert and they came prepared to stay…no matter what. 


The crowd and production team all prepared to withstand the rain

The rain eventually stopped but well before it did the 1st Annual Lakefest was already a hit. Although not completely filled to capacity it was very well attended and a true family day generating lots of enthusiasm. A very friendly multicultural crowd of attendees enjoyed the opening acts and patronized the vendors; numerous adults mingled while teenagers enjoyed themselves dancing while young children romped in the rain and simply wore themselves out having fun.  It just goes to show that when you put together a quality lineup and back it with a no holds barred promotional effort, nothing will stop fans from taking notice and supporting the effort. As a strong advocate for building the next generation of true Reggae lovers, it also goes to show that parents will indeed bring their children to concerts and shows if they trust the producers knowing they’ll provide a lineup and content appropriate for young audiences.  



Fans enjoying their time at Lakefest

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So what did I like best about Lakefest 2011? Just about everything! While I did not have a chance to fully explore the grounds, what I saw on the way inside the concert was a lovely location complete with a running stream and acre’s of space. Naturally, all of the performances were excellent and complemented each other well – no slackers took the stage. Anthony B was amazing not only because his music is hot but because he truly knows how to entertain an audience. The rich and melodic voice of Wayne Wonder also went over extremely well with the fans as he too gave his all. I had not attended a concert featuring Etana for a while now so I was anxious to see what if anything would be different. I was delighted to hear her once again belting out songs in her traditional strong and confident style. Derrick Barnett & The Statement Band gave an amazing high-energy performance putting down some moves that won’t soon be forgotten. Superstar Beres Hammond gave what can best be described as a fever pitched and moving performance singing almost every single hit tune he’s ever recorded; at several points during his energetic performance he danced and interacted with the audience reaching out and touching the eager hands of fans who were reaching for the stage in anxious delight for a chance to touch his hand. I must say that Beres Hammond always sings and performs with passion and although it’s hard to explain, this time was obviously different. Clearly fans picked up on that too as towards the very end of his performance, many in the area where I was standing were so moved they were brought to tears.  Best of all, Nikki Z and her partners delivered every artist to the stage as advertised and the day was filled to the max with a feeling of pure love and good vibes. If they repeat what they accomplished this year and I am sure they will, Lakefest 2012 will be a guaranteed hit!




High - energy entertainment by Derrick Barnett, Etana, Anthony B, and Wayne Wonder prepare the crowd for Beres Hammond

Beres Hammond and the Harmony House Band close out the show with a heart-felt performance

Reggae Reflection Correspondent Grace Vanriel is a long-time Reggae music fan and the organizer for leading Reggae social networks in the NYC area on Meetup.com including: Live Reggae NYC, NYC Roots Reggae, Dancehall and Reggae Alliance and Reggae Rocks. She is also one of the Executive Producers of the successful Reggaeholics Movement themed concerts, shows and parties. Follow her on Live Reggae NYC on facebook at:  www.facebook.com/livereggaenyc   or on the Reggaeholics page at: www.facebook.com/reggaeholics



See Slide show of all photos below

Lakefest CT Photo Gallery 

 
 
Trinifly Promotions Ultimate Caribbean Fun Day at Six Flags - Substance or Hype?
Grace Vanriel
Reggae Reflection Correspondent
Photography & Video: Empress K  @ www.reggaereflection.com
For more info:  Empressk@Reggaereflection.com
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On Saturday August 13, 2011, The Reggae Reflection crew was dispatched to Jackson, New Jersey to cover the Trinifly Promotions produced concert for the very first time.  I can tell you right here and now that next year I’ll be making every effort to get out of the assignment billed as the “Six Flags Caribbean Summer Series Concert: The Ultimate Caribbean Fun Day” and you’ll soon understand why.  

For weeks preceding the event, fliers and posters for the concert had been popping up all over New York with the associated tag line “GO BIG” and so, the event was definitely on my radar. However, despite all the publicity and multiple postings on my personal facebook page, I still hadn’t been fully convinced to purchase a ticket requiring traveling all the way to NJ from NY for a concert with artists well loved and respected but who I knew could be caught locally and with less effort; call me pessimistic but I couldn’t help wondering if all the advertising hoopla associated with the concert boiled down to media hype at its best for the express purpose of selling more tickets.  When our executive producer announced sending a crew and called on me to cover the concert I politely asked for a few days to “confirm”, the code word for “I’ll think about it” minus the impertinence of just saying no. I eventually said yes for the opportunity to interview the legendary Beres Hammond, a notion our producer skillfully baited me with several times during our next conversation…who could resist?  So, I’m finally at Six Flags and as it turns out The Ultimate Caribbean Fun Day was packed, well organized and everywhere you looked men, women and children were genuinely having fun visible through smiling faces, singing along with the artists and spontaneous dancing in every corner of the jam packed arena. By the time Beres Hammond hit the stage, along with everyone else I’d been properly pumped up and expertly entertained by all the opening acts. The Six Flags Caribbean Summer Series Concert” was indeed one of the biggest and exciting concerts of the summer with one of the most energized audiences I’ve ever encountered at a concert. You just had to be at Six Flags to understand exactly what I mean. 


Fans out in full force and having fun @ The Six Flags Caribbean  Series Concert  to see  Anthony B, Wayne Wonder and Beres Hammond

The TriniFly Promotions team receives high marks for organizing a truly fun-filled event, and for making the concert affordable for everyone while providing ticket purchasers with true value for their dollar. It’s no secret that Reggae concert ticket prices in the NY-tri state area border astronomical prices for events maybe lasting only a few hours. Comparatively, early bird tickets to the “Six Flags Caribbean Summer Series Concert” went for as little as $45 and included entrance to the Six Flags Theme Park with access to all the rides and attractions and of course to the concert itself. And, if you were fortunate enough to purchase one of the limited VIP tickets going for $100 then you definitely got your money’s worth and then some with loads of meaningful perks including express entry, a meet and greet with the artists (including opportunities for photographs and autographs), a delicious complimentary dinner with drinks, a gift bag loaded with great stuff and up-front access to the stage. Whatever ticket you held, you had twelve-hours to fully enjoy the day topped off by a great concert with celebrity artists. It doesn’t get any better than that! The only artist billed but unable to attend due to an unfortunate knee injury was one of my very favorite artists Kymani Marley. Nonetheless, super-star Beres Hammond, Wayne Wonder and Anthony B all gave exciting high-energy performances with Beres singing what seemed like all his greatest hits.  

Anthony B

Wayne Wonder

Beres Hammond

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Chocolate City model
In-between acts the Chocolate City crew previewed incredibly colorful and sexy carnival themed costumes “A Journey Through India” that we’ll next see on Eastern Parkway at the upcoming Labor Day Parade in Brooklyn, NY. The concert was hosted, by DJ Jabba, radio show host for Hot 97 and Irie Jam Radio who did an incredible job getting the audience pumped up and interacting with each other and interested in whatever was happening on the stage. Unfortunately, I lost my notes enroute to the next concert we were covering and don’t remember their names but still need to let readers know that the DJ’s spinning the music in-between acts were super-incredible too.


At this point you must surely realize that the Trinifly Promotions “Six Flags Caribbean Summer Series Concert: The Ultimate Caribbean Fun Day” was pure substance and fun for people of all ages! My reason for plotting to get out of next year’s coverage has little to do with anything other than wanting to attend as a ticket holder. Next year I’ll be spreading the word to all my facebook friends and Reggae group members on Meetup.com so that we can all spend the day roaming the park, enjoying the rides and taking in another great concert. My advice to readers is simple. Purchase your tickets the minute they become available as I am convinced beyond a shadow of doubt that every single person who attended this years's event enjoyed themselves so very much that they’ll be returning.

Reggae Reflection Correspondent Grace Vanriel is a long-time Reggae music fan and the organizer for leading Reggae social networks in the NYC area on Meetup.com including: Live Reggae NYC, NYC Roots Reggae, Dancehall and Reggae Alliance and Reggae Rocks. She is also one of the Executive Producers of the successful Reggaeholics Movement themed concerts, shows and parties. Follow her on Live Reggae NYC on facebook at:    https://www.facebook.com/LiveReggaeNYC  or on the Reggaeholics page at: http://www.facebook.com/pages/wwwReggaeholicscom/395675740864?ref=ts



See below for Video  Interview with Beres Hammond and live performance highlights from Beres Hammond, Anthony B and Wayne Wonder as well as all photos of the event. 


Six Flags Video Highlights and Interview with Beres Hammond


Six Flags Best of Reggae Summer Concert Series Photos

Check out other Trinifly promotion events at  www.triniflypromotions.com
Did you attend the concert?  Be sure to leave a comment and share your feedback.  
 
 
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Buju Banton & Friends at Bayfront Park 01/16/11
When I first heard about the Buju Banton & Friends show scheduled in Miami on the Martin Luther King Holiday weekend, I knew this was one concert I was not going to miss.  Bayfront Park Amphitheatre in Miami is a favorite place of mine to see a Reggae concert, having previously attended many Marley Festivals in the same area.  Heading to a warm destination during this very cold & snowy winter was definitely a strong selling point!
Arriving in Miami the night before the show, I felt positive about the weekend ahead.   Unexpectedly two things occurred that confirmed my belief.   While attempting to find parking near my hotel in South Beach, I discovered that the Buju & Friends official after party was being held at Mansion, a club only two blocks away.  Then upon checking into my hotel, I glanced down and noticed the latest New Miami Times magazine on the counter featuring who else but Buju Banton with 'Free the General' as the cover story!  This is certainly going to be a trip to remember.

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photo at Reggae By the Lake CT Summer 2010
Perfect sunny weather in the 70s made for a glorious start for the day ahead. I enjoyed the morning by exploring South Beach by foot before heading into Miami.  Underestimating the amount of traffic getting out of South Beach as well as the gridlock encountered in the vicinity of Bayfront Park, I finally arrived about 5:00pm to find long lines of patrons already awaiting security checks to get into the park. A familiar sight brought a smile to my face.  Amidst the crowd was the “peanut man” with his wheel barrel full of peanuts for purchase.   Many of you will know whom I am referring to. He seems to be at every big event in Boston, CT,  and NY as well as Florida.  It was also nice to see the representative from 4Seasons Party Cruise out of Atlanta working the crowd by handing out flyers for their upcoming 15th Annual Cruise featuring Freddie McGregor, Wayne Wonder, Marcia Griffiths and more taking place in October 2011. I made my way through the standard security check and of course the first person I saw was my favorite photographer,  the very talented and famous photojournalist Roy Sweetland of Sweetland Photos / Buzz Magazine capturing the vibrant essence of the day through his lens for LIME TV.

Press representing writers, photographers & videographers for web and print based media traveled from all over.  Jamaica was heavily represented as expected, with LIME TV, a sponsor of the event having a large team present that were easily recognized by their matching LIME green ‘Before the Dawn’ T-shirts. For those unable to be in Miami the show was broadcast live on LIME Mobile Tv.  A media team from World A Reggae based in Amsterdam, and Irie Vision from San Francisco were among those that I encountered that traveled the most distance along with many other media outlets from NY and Florida as well. While the general sentiment from the Press was that access was too restrictive by only allowing press to photograph and video from the press pit during the first song of each artist’s set, the majority made the best of the situation and were happy to be part of this event.   

 
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Everton Blender
 
Newcomer Richie Loop kicked off the festivities about 6:00pm as reggae fans were still steadily streaming into the venue, followed by veteran artist Everton Blender who performed an enjoyable set of  crowd favorites. More of the biggest names in Reggae were soon on their way to center stage to perform several of their well-known classic hits. Quality sets from Nadine Sutherland, Freddie McGregor, Wayne Wonder, Gramps Morgan, Wayne Wonder, Tarrus Riley & Dean Fraser, Shaggy, and DJ Khaled were well received while entertaining the sold out crowd.  There were also many surprises in store throughout the evening as special guest artists graced the stage to the delight of the enthusiastic audience.  Surprise guests included Sean Paul, Spragga Benz, Gyptian, Mykal Rose, Rayvonn, Serani, and Busta Rhymes as well on DJ Khaled's energyzing hip hop set, the final set before Buju's long-awaited performance.


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Carmelita Harris (Irie Vision) & David Oscar Markus


Quite a few of the artists made appearances in the Press area to be interviewed and pose for photographs including Everton Blender, who was the first artist welcomed by media eager to obtain his thoughts on the event.  Other artists that I observed in the Press area were Nadine Sutherland, Freddie McGregor, Wayne Wonder, Gyptian, Tarrus Riley, and Gramps Morgan.  Buju’s lawyer, David Oscar Markus, also made a brief appearance sporting a bright green ‘Free Buju’ T-shirt and graciously took time out of his busy schedule to speak with reporters and pose for pictures with some members of the media. 


 

Buju's Friends Command the Stage

The highly anticipated arrival of The Gargamel to the stage

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Buju Banton
Around 10:00pm, Elise Kelly of Irie FM Jamaica had the privilege of introducing Buju as he appeared on stage performing many of his classic hits as well as new material from his 2010 Grammy nominated best Reggae album, 'Before the Dawn'.  Beginning with his timeless classic ‘Destiny’ he performed every song stronger than the previous with each song taking on a more personal and profound meaning during this unique performance.  When singing the verse of ‘Sleepless Nights’ with lyrics referring to losing trust, it was obvious that to the contrary this audience had most definitely not lost their trust and faith in the Gargamel, despite these times of turbulence. 
Nearing the end of Buju’s stellar two hour performance, he was joined on stage by several of his closest friends. Marcia Griffiths a long time friend and mentor to Buju was a surprise guest and performed a duet with Buju.  Although Beres Hammond was also rumored to be appearing, Buju took a few moments to explain to the audience that Beres was not able to make it after performing a late night set at Rebel Salute the previous night. 


As expected, good friend Stephen Marley joined Buju on stage for three songs. Starting with a most appropriate song for the occasion, he sang Duppy Conqueror.  Damian Marley further ignited the audience’s excitement during an encore of Stephen & Damian’s hit song ‘Traffic Jam’ before the three continued with their new song collaboration, ‘Jah Army’.  Before the night was over, Wayne Wonder and Gramps Morgan returned to the stage to perform their hits with Buju. And Buju’s lawyer, David Oscar Marcus, also appeared briefly on stage at the very end before the venue’s curfew ended the show. If not for the curfew it seemed as though Buju could have continued until the morning with his tireless energy.

Buju with friends Stephen Marley, Damian Marley and Wayne Wonder thrill the audience with their song collaborations

Closing Reflection

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VIP Section of audience at close of show
A lot of media hype and high expectations led up to this historic event. When describing this event as historic, at least a few people questioned my description. I have a very simple response.  The circumstances of this event are unprecedented.  Fans of Buju Banton will always show their support for their favorite artist, however this time, most everyone had an additional purpose to be at this show.  Traveling from near and far, fans came in steady fashion to show their love and support for Buju before he heads back to court next month.  No one can predict the outcome, however, I’m certain that Buju felt the love and positive energy surrounding him from the sold out capacity crowd to his closest friends and colleagues as well as the media on hand to document the evening. Too often these events are held in memory of a passing artist. This concert displayed great unity that brought everyone together for the right reasons and will hopefully serve as a positive model for future endeavors to come. 

After returning home to Boston, I reflected upon my experience and reviewed the photos that I had the honor to take.  I realize that words alone simply cannot express the feeling of being at this event.  As they say a picture is worth a thousand words.  My hope is that the pictures fully convey the emotion that Buju and his closest friends put forth as well as the joy and love coming from the fans in support of a great artist.  Much will be written about this event by the various media outlets.  This is just my personal reflection, which I shall remember as a day not to be forgotten. 


Photo Gallery of Buju Banton & Friends 'Before The Dawn' Concert