Bringing Reggae into the public consciousness

By Ansel Brar

Whether you’re rockin’ to the latest hip-hop blast, an old Beatles tune or the music of Bob Marley himself, the indelible rhythms, guitar strums and baselines of reggae have influenced virtually all genres of music. It is the underpinning of the many sounds coming from your stereo, but still remains below the public consciousness. The Calgary Reggae Festival Society, established to promote regional and national awareness of reggae music in Canada, has come to change all that. Calgary’s first and certainly most overdue Reggae Festival will bring those incredible sounds from the subculture to the forefront with its impressive lineup of Canadian and international artists ready to rock your spirit at Burns Stadium this Saturday.

“The artist lineup represents every province from Quebec to British Columbia. People will be blown away with just the Canadian talent alone,” proclaims Leo Cripps, one of six members of the board of directors of the CRFS.

You should get ready to rock steady to the star quality of Belinda Brady, the regal majesty of Donna Makeda, the dynamism of Mark Steele, and the sweet sounds of young Sugar Prince.

The eclectic rhythms of reggae music will not only be represented at the festival, but the people and cultures as well. “Those coming to the festival will hear everything from the reggae spectrum–ska, jazz, roots, lovers rock, dance hall–from old style to new style,” notes Cripps. “The makeup of the festival represents the multicultural aspect of our city.”

For reggae fans, this festival is perfect to capture the last few weeks of summer within a drum and bass sure to liven up any soul. It also allows fans to experience acts they have not before, including some homegrown ones. Ibo and Aktivate hail from Calgary and are ready to break out of the reggae’s pariah image in Western Canada and emerge into the mainstream.

“Representation of reggae music in Canada has always been marginal,” explains Cripps. “However, radio and TV airplay of the reggae talent we have in Canada will increase if interest is shown.”

The response to the festival has exceeded Cripps’ wildest dreams, with interest and ticket demands coming from as far away as Toronto and Montreal. Perhaps those crazy easterners know a little about the great talent we in the west haven’t been exposed to yet.

So, whether you feel the ska, rocksteady, lovers rock, roots, DJ or dance hall rhythms, the Calgary Reggae Festival is sure to bring reggae music into the public consciousness and expand yours.

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