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Garance Reggae Festival 2013

Garance Reggae Festival 2013

Garance Reggae Festival 2013

By on - Photos by Sari Aupe - Comment

Bagnols-sur-Cèze aka Kingston-sur-Cèze, in South of France, for the fourth time hosted the Garance Reggae Festival from 25th to 28th July.

The Garance Reggae Festival is not the biggest French festival dedicated to Reggae music but is certainly the most specialized. The 2013 edition, which welcomed around 60.000 festival-goers, has settled down one more time in Bagnols-sur-Cèze, a small town in the South of France from 25th to 28th July.

To start the festival, the organisers gambled on an opening night entirely devoted to sound systems. On the main stage, renamed "Lion Arena"  for the occasion, Iration Steppas met King Earthquake. Both UK sound systems, some of the greats in their genre (UK dub), matched dubplate for dubplate,each one on their stunning and powerful sound system. To the opposite of the area, at the Dub corner, French of Chinese Man, who blended hip hop, reggae and electro music, pleased the audience with a set specially  designed for the Festival. It was the ideal warm up  for THE clash of the day: Killamanjaro (JA) vs Soul Stereo (FR). From roots to dancehall both sounds faced off with exclusive cuts from artists such as Nitty Gritty, Shabba Ranks, Garnett Silk, Capleton and Yellowman…

Whether lovers of sound systems in the Jamaican or UK tradition, there was something for everyone during this first night rich in kilowatts and in sharpened selections. 

Far from being a minor part of the schedule, the Garance team showed that sound systems have pride of place here.

It’s the belief of the organizers, as Antoine Jamet from Garance Productions explains : "From the beginning, we made the choice to schedule UK Dub. We launched the Dub Stations several years ago in Paris [since then in many towns of France] and we wanted to include them in the festival. We are not closed minded but the main part of our programme at the Dub Corner is dedicated to UK dub. Reggae is not only in Jamaica. That’s why we mix UK, Jamaican and European reggae".

Over the four days, at the same time as the concerts, sound systems would take turns to play at the Dub Corner, on the Blackboard Junglesound system.

We could see the legendary King Jammy’s for an exclusive session featuring Johnny Osbourne and Lone Ranger, but also Salomon Heritage featuring Ras Tweed, Unitone, Dixie Peach, Realitys Souljahs, Jah Marnyah and Afrikan Simba alongside Black Board Jungle and also Channel One sound system at the control tower for a memorable session from roots to dub steppers.

And to finish on a high note, no less than the mighty Jah Shaka, pioneer of UK style sound system.

"The idea is really to integrate the two stages, that goers can choose their mood. For us, sound systems have their own public. With time, we realize that sometimes we have as much people in the sound system area as on the main stage" says Antoine Jamet.

Garance Reggae Festival 2013

On the main stage side, a very rich line up: Cornell Campbell, John Holt, Don Carlos, The Tamlins, Stranger Cole, Steel Pulse… in the pioneers category. Sizzla, Jah Mason, Ky-Mani Marley or Everton Blender were also invited in Bagnols-sur-Cèze as the new generation, with the awaited performances of Konshens and Busy Signal.

"Our ambition is to take to France a maximum of Jamaican artists. It’s our line since 4 years. Famous artists plus artists who play more rarely or that come exclusively to Garance Festival. We also did a big job ahead of the festival. During the year we go to Jamaica, we meet artists, bands, we also work to the « re-creation » of some groups… This year, for example, legends such as Johnny Osbourne and John Holt play at Garance. We rarely see this kind of artists…and it’s a bit thanks to us that they come to France".

This said, French reggae was  represented all the same with the successful band Dub Inc, singjay Tiwony from French west indies or the young Nâaman. Not forgetting Mo’kalamity, the female singer, native to Cape Verde, the only female voice scheduled of the festival, opened the festivities. Supported by her band The Wizards, Mo’Kalamity whose new album is sheduled for November 2013, gave the festival a fresh and rootsy show, in the blazing heat.

By the way, this last edition was sold out for the last two nights. Another success for the Garance team. 

On Garance's many pathways it was rumoured that the festival should extend the site or move to a bigger one next year. In short : the site nowadays is too small to welcome  all the festival-goers… A word to the wise is enough !


Reproduction without permission of United Reggae and Sari Aupe is prohibited.

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