It’s Festival Time, Once Again…

Question: What is the difference between a music festival and a concert?  If you are having trouble answering this question, or if this question is causing some serious debate among your friends, fear not.  Concerts often get confused with music festivals, but the two are starkly different.  When you go to a concert, it is usually to enjoy your favorite band or to watch your favorite performing artist do her or his thing.  You might even go to a concert to impress that cute bohemian, hippie girl with the flower in her hair that you met at the thrift shop to make her think you’re Rebelution’s biggest fan.  I digress.  But seriously, concerts are typically a one shot deal that exposes you to whatever musical fix you seek.  Festivals are a bit different, however.

Festivals are much more than an exhibition of one or two particular bands.  In fact, festivals usually provide a small musical village that can last up to a week and can expose you to myriad aspects of the culture in question.  Since Inity Weekly promotes reggae music, among others, that “culture in question” is reggae culture.  So, for all of the reggae enthusiasts out there, here is a list of three of the more notable international reggae festivals on the planet (in no particular order)…

1.  Reggae Sumfest.  Reggae Sumfest is held every year in mid-July in Montego Bay, Jamaica.  Montego Bay is one of the most popular tourist destinations on Earth, making it an ideal place for reggae lovers from a slew of countries.   Sumfest started in the summer of 1993.  Over time, the festival’s popularity grew and it ballooned into a week-long celebration of reggae culture.  Sumfest is separated into several separate daily events, including Dancehall Night, Beach Party, and International Nights 1 & 2.  The turnout is usually enormous, making Sumfest the largest current reggae festival on the island.

2.  9 Mile Music Festival.  In the true spirit of roots reggae music, the 9 Mile Music Festival combines conscious music with social responsibility.  In addition to hosting arguably Miami’s most historic reggae festival, 9 Mile also makes sure its patrons give back to the community.  More specifically, the price of admission is four canned goods, as well as a purchased festival ticket.  That was not a typo.  Patrons seriously are required to bring canned goods to gain entry to the festival.  The canned goods are then distributed to the needy in the surrounding Miami area, as well as in Jamaica.  It also should be noted that 9 Mile is run and partly sponsored by the Marley family, who continue Bob’s legacy of putting the community first.

3.  Yokohama Reggae Sai.  Last, but not least, this reggae “sai” (“sai” is Japanese for “festival”) puts the “international” in international reggae festival.  The Yokohama Reggae Sai takes place in August at the famed Yokohama Stadium in Yokohama, Japan.  It was established by the Japanese reggae juggernaut, Mighty Crown Sound System.  Mighty Crown made a name for themselves in the mid-1990’s in New York City by clashing and defeating several well-known sound systems throughout the Western Hemisphere.  Using their name and reputation, Mighty Crown has been able to attract major reggae acts to the Yokohama Reggae Sai, including Half Pint, Freddie McGregor, and countless others.

Although only three major reggae festivals are listed, there are scores and scores of reggae festivals that happen annually.  Finding a reggae festival close to you is just one Google search away.  For a more comprehensive list of international reggae festivals, check out http://www.reggaefestivalguide.com.

Until next time, my fellow reggae family, peace and inity.  – Shomari Ward

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