Reggae Sun Ska

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To continue the summer festival frivolities HMCMB went international earlier this August to ‘Reggae Sun Ska’ in Pauillac, France. Fair to say it’s something a little different to what we normally cover and I had my doubts about a festival dedicated entirely to just one genre of music, but it turned out to be something pretty special and a highlight of the summer so far.

A short train ride from Bordeaux and a scattered trail of tents lead me straight into the Sunday evening of the three day reggae spectacular. The normal festival buzz in the air was seasoned with beat box laden Rastas and the thick, relentless aroma of, well, weed (what were you expecting?) The line up over the last few days had included the likes of Damian Marley, Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry and The Mighty Diamonds. But the infectiously relaxing reggae feel that had overtaken the small French town was slowly beginning to draw to an end.

However, it wasn’t over just yet and Hollie Cook graced the stage with an English charm, soothing vocals and pretty damn crazy gyrations as she played the main stage then joined forces with Prince Fatty + Horseman on the ‘Rebel Music’ stage to perform her single ‘And The Beat Goes On’. Describing her music as ‘tropical pop‘ the daughter of Sex Pistol’s drummer Paul Cook has a mesmerizing feel to her sound, encompassing a fantastic reggae backbeat that just makes you want to dance. Anthony B wooed the crowd to get ready for one of the main events of the evening, Mr Jimmy Cliff (the very man that brought the world Hakuna Matata). Headlining the ‘Natty Dread’ stage Cliff’s performance was electric with atmosphere, children dancing on the stage and drums galore. Flags waved, the crowd sang and he was followed by an emphatic Alborosie on the ‘One Love’ stage, a man with a set of dreadlocks that simply cannot be rivaled.

The next morning the standard apocalyptic post festival scenes of abandoned tents and zombified revellers littered the fields. Although the bin bags of rubbish shone red, green and yellow; like everything else at the festival, a celebration of reggae and a salute to Jamaica’s 50 years of independence and incredible contribution to world music.

If you want something small, chilled, loved up and don’t mind the odd dreadlock, I would highly recommend this festival. If you fancy a similar affair but your GCSE french isn’t quite what it used to be, check out the incredible world music festival this side of the pond -WOMAD.

Musical genre is something which can often become incredibly restricting but surely music is about experimenting and learning?
So I say, experiment.

R

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