A few weeks ago, I went back to my alma mater to chill, get my wind on and attend The 26th annual UCLA Jazz Reggae Festival. Split into two days, thousands of concertgoers descended upon the Intramural Field and staked out their patch of grass to watch the action on stage. The green event featured a booth I’d never seen before, that had a fun see-saw that you could ride to create the energy to make a snowcone. Loved the fun, town carnival feel.
Throughout the flurry of activities during the two days, the fest was well organized and I liked that each act did their thing and got on and off the stage quickly. Day One, which was called Jam Day had India Carney (a student who won a singing competition at UCLA), Sonnymoon, Selah Sue, Thundercat, Gary Clark Jr, Booker T. Jones and the Legendary Roots Crew who threw in a little Beastie Boys and Guns’ N’ Roses into their set. This group of artists was all over the music spectrum with rock, blues, hip-hop, alternative, R&B, experimental jazz and even a little reggae played throughout the day. In between sets in the press area, I got to connect with experimental alt duo Sonnymoon and Belgian soul raga reggae singer, Selah Sue to ask a few questions about their origins, meeting Prince, genres they fit into and what’s in store for them in the future.
Day Two, Reggae Day, featured pop, reggae and soca artists Cris Cab, Kes the Band, Alison Hinds, Don Carlos, Collie Buddz, Tarrus Riley and Shaggy. Alternating between the chill “One Love” vibe and the “Wotless” and “Roll it Gal” jump and wave party mood, the crowd happily rode the rollercoaster of emotions to a good time. There were several folks in the audience with different Caribbean flags repping their countries and culture full force (some artists did too i.e. Kes repping Trinidad and Tobago and Shaggy repping Jamaica). Back in the press area, I spoke to Cris Cab, a Miami up and coming pop reggae artist, who recently released his mixtape, “Echo Boom”, produced by Wyclef and Pharrell, and also features collabos with Melanie Fiona, Shaggy, Mavado and Daytona. I also surprisingly caught up with “Mr. Boombastic” Shaggy before he went on stage and got some interesting answers when asked about Memorial Day, whether he considers himself a legend and what his latest album was all about. Walked away from the two days tanner and very glad I went! Hit up my blog, carlitasconcerts.com and follow me on Twitter, @Carlitamusik to get more deets on other shows I’m at and the music I’m currently listening to!