Reggae Jam has been rated the number 1 reggae festival in Europe by Riddim magazine readers, and hearing this I had high expectations. I guess I experienced many highs and a few lows throughout the festival.
So first I will talk about the lows, or rather improvements that I think could make the festival better. I arrived by train and was greeted by a bunch of police officers and a sniffer dog. They immediately singled me out and had the dog sniff me and my bags. Some how I got lucky and passed through. If they were looking for bombs or weapons I understand, however to me, searching for drugs (namely marijuana) at a reggae festival sounds like police just trying to fulfil a quota.
I had a lot of trouble finding the media accreditation area and getting a wrist band, then no one could tell me where I could go as media. Also there wasn’t a media tent to charge cameras or get internet to upload footage etc. This year there was also less room for camping and tents were so close together. This combined with rain made for a bit of a messy festival, but perhaps I’m just used to New Zealand and Australia and having lots of room.
So enough of that and onto the music. Thursday night saw Tippa Irie and General Levy mash up the place. The first half of General Levy’s set consisted more of new dancehall which I personally didn’t enjoy so much, but the second half was more jungle and bass-heavy riddims which I’m glad I stayed for.
Friday I was playing in the Dubcamp area and I ended up running tunes for over 3-hours in the sunshine on the Sublime Sound System. Big up Sublime and Rootsplague crews for having me. After a day in the sunshine I was tired and unfortunately missed Silly Walks with Patrice and Assassin. I was really looking forward to checking them, especially as Silly Walks are celebrating 25-years in the reggae business! Luckily I had seen Silly Walks the week before in Hamburg at the Chronixx after-party. I managed to see Big Youth and General Degree before heading back to my tent and also got caught up at Da Sandwich Maker listening to a free style session. I had some of my best moments of the festival here, with nice vibes, friendly crew and great tasting food and coffee.
Saturday I spent a lot of time at Dubcamp and saw Ganjaman, Jahcoustix, The Congos and Admiral Tibet. I enjoyed Lutan Fyah and Queen Omega the most, both playing high energy sets.
Sunday and still alive! There was so much music everywhere, in the camp sites, the clothing shops, Sandwich Maker, plus all the main stages! The main stage had a great line-up including Chronixx, Kabaka Pyramid, Julian Marley and Alborosie who all played great sets, with Kabaka being the highlight for me.
So in summary, Reggae Jam is an amazing reggae festival with a lot of great music! Some extra planning by the event organisers would help things run smoother, but despite this, the people still come and enjoy the festival. If I lived in Europe I would be here every year.
Big Up Reggae Jam.