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Garance Reggae Festival 2012

Garance Reggae Festival 2012

Garance Reggae Festival 2012

By on - Photos by Bartek Muracki - Comment

From 25 to 28 July, the festival celebrated the fifty years of independence of Jamaica.

Garance Reggae Festival 2012

It almost seems to be a routine for the people of Bagnols-sur-Cèze! The Garance Reggae Festival, based in Paris until 2010, has settled down in this town in the South of France for three years. Streets, pubs and shops of all kinds come alive to the rhythms and colours of reggae over four days. "We celebrate the fifty years of independence of Jamaica this year. The line up pays tribute to global cultural exposure of this little Caribbean island" says the Festival team. On the bill for the opening night, a "100% oldies" entire series of artists: Derrick Morgan aka The King of Ska, Ernest Ranglin, Sly & Robbie, Bob Andy, Lloyd Parks, Jamaica All Stars, The Gaylads and the I-Threes aka "the 3 little birds of Bob Marley" offered a beautiful painting of the Jamaican musical heritage. The next day, Johnny Osbourne, who did not set foot in Europe for more than twenty years, was impatiently expected by the festival-goers! His exclusive gig in France was a delicious occasion and probably one of the best shows of Garance 2012. Morgan Heritage, Mr Vegas, Chezidek, Turbulence, Diana Rutherford, Derajah and Raging Fyah have showcased the various musical facets, on the rootsy side, that have ruled on the Island since the mid 90’s.

Two French-speaking artists were also scheduled: The African star Alpha Blondy (from the Ivory Coast) and the uprising French deejay Biga Ranx. His mastery of Jamaican patois shows once more that Reggae doesn’t know borders!

50 years of Jamaican independence and music

Garance Reggae Festival 2012Mento, ska, rocksteady, roots, dub and dancehall are integral parts of Jamaican identity and never stopped accompanying the development of the island. In the 60’s, Ska, key music of sound systems, symbolized the dynamic encouraged by the Independence of Jamaica, on August 6th 1962. "I remember Derrick Morgan's Independence song Forward March and Winston & BB's song Joybells For Independence being released in 1962 along with other Independence songs done by various artists," reminds BB Seaton, singer of the Gaylads. "It was very exciting and most of us were very optimistic about the future of our Island being Independent. It is also amazing what we have achieved musically in fifty years as a small Nation in the West Indies, when you think of Bob Marley, Jimmy Cliff, Dennis Brown, Toots & the Maytals, Millie Small, Ken Boothe and many other musicians contributions. So many Nations worldwide that our music has influenced".

From 1965, ska changed and give birth to Rocksteady. According to Jérémie Kroubo Dagnini, author of a thesis about popular Jamaican music, rocksteady owes its appearance to 3 principal facts: "the harmful consequences of the Jamaican postcolonial politic, the repercussions of the Afro-American civil rights movement in Jamaica and the influence of soul music". In the late 60’s, rocksteady gave way to reggae. "The expansion of Rastafari movement, originally from a mix of Afro-centric Christianity and animist cults essentially allows us to understand this transition from rocksteady to reggae, that popularized by Bob Marley and The Wailers, and became an incontrovertible style on the global musical arena".

Garance Reggae Festival 2012The many festivals in Europe (Rototom in Spain, Summerjam in Germany, Reggae Sun Ska and Garance in France) but also their African and American equivalents prove it. The 21st edition of Garance Reggae festival gathered 50 000 people. A good number for France where even though Reggae has a real audience, the genre stays niche.

"In Jamaica, there is a culture of music. Music was a way for ghetto people to have a voice. Before the coming of radio, there was no way for these people to be heard" says Jamaican singer Diana Rutherford. "From generation to generation, people play music loud. That’s something that is ever present" added Sherkan, French producer based in Kingston. "For me, Jamaica is mid way from Africa to America. There is an African tradition to pass knowledge verbally but Jamaica is also closely linked to the USA. Change in Jamaica came with the sound systems. With these excessive amplified systems that played music very loud everywhere. This is the Jamaican culture!".

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