|Stick Figure, 2015|
For the second consecutive year I did not see any of the headliners from Reggae on the River. Of all the artists performing, there were only two I had ever heard of, Stick Figure and Slightly Stoopid, and both played past my bedtime.
Considering I go to sleep every night of my life before the sun goes down, that’s not saying a whole lot. Am I disappointed? Not on your life because I have discovered that I actually prefer to listen to bands I have never heard before, than those which are world famous.
My world being topsy turvy from most, I have discovered that the artists who play in the late morning and through the afternoon, are more appealing to me than the big dawgs. First, they are playing to a much smaller crowd, second they are lesser known bands and therefore have something to prove, and finally, the originality and vitality of these backup artists, often exceeds that of the more well-established bands.
|Mighty Mystic and The Hard Roots Movement|
Take Saturday, for instance. At 11:00 in the morning, Mighty Mystic & The Hard Roots Movement got matters started, playing a brand of music which combined reggae with hip-hop. The bowl was practically empty when they began, but folks started to trickle in, especially under the pavilion, where blankets were spread out all around, and revelers were sprawled out, trying to beat the heat.
Ojo de Buey followed Mighty Mystic, this band hailing from Costa Rica, and playing reggae blended with salsa. Without fail these artists who are getting a golden opportunity to show off their style, seem to respond accordingly, playing with an enthusiasm that cannot be contrived.
|Ojo de Buey|
Additionally, for the purposes of my personal enjoyment, I am standing up on one of the two side-stages, and I have it to myself. Not only do I have the stage to myself, but I have a dilapidated folding chair, undoubtedly left over from the individual who was doing security for Stick Figure, the previous evening.
It may have been old and ratty, but my chair might just as well have been the cadillac of reclining armchairs. Unless you are in the campsite, sitting anywhere but on the ground, at ROTR, is a luxury. So finding this unoccupied chair on stage, with no one to care one way of the other if I sat in it or not, was truly a bonanza. So much so that I asked the first person who joined my on that side-stage, to take a photograph of me.
Kkulee Dube, an artist from South Africa, followed Ojo de Buey and mixed jazz and soul into her music. She put on a rousing show combining her singing with dancing, electrifying me and others with her repertoire. She played to a bowl only one-third of the way filled, but that’s kind of the way it works.
Nonetheless, if you are like me and do not care for the crowds, there is no better venue than the afternoon sets that are readily available. I did stay up last year for Jah Sun, New Kingston and Protoje, artists with whom I was unfamiliar, and enjoyed them immensely, just as I stayed up the previous year for Stephen Marley.
However, the last two years I was surrounded by a bevy of family and friends, and almost transported telepathically to the bowl at night, for emotion-laden performances. I cried like a baby during Stick Figure’s performane, and again when Stephen came on.
This year I went solo, because life on-farm will not release its death-grip on adversity, so HeadSodBuster and SmallBoy had to toe the line. HS Buster broke loose Friday and Saturday nights, and it was fun to hold court with him, at Any Spot in the bowl, where the whole world passes by at one time or another.
The “kids” do the adulting while the “adult” goes off to frolic at ROTR. I guess it just goes to show that I raised them right.