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Reggae on the River 2016

Reggae on the River 2016

Reggae on the River 2016

By on - Photos by Lee Abel - Comment

Three generations loving the vibes.

Reggae On The River, a Northern California tradition, germinated in 1984 as a way for the local community to fund the rebuild of their beloved Mateel Community Center, which had been burned to the ground by a terrorist neighbor. What a great idea, to start a music festival, a reggae and world music festival, spreading love and peace and community service, a festival simply referred to locally as “Reggae”. Now those pioneers are joined at the venue with their grown children and handfuls of grandchildren, still loving the vibes. And the reggae still flows sweetly through the concert bowl, drifting through vendors booths, and wafting down to the campers on the riverbank.


For the 32nd time, from August 4-7, 2016, the Reggae families gathered and celebrated. These same strong family ties were evident on stage too. Local artist gone worldwide, Jah Sun, not only had his son sit in on drums with him for the first time, but he also proposed to his girlfriend onstage with the help of the audience. Sister Carol, “Mother Culture”, proudly shared the stage with her daughter, Nakeeba Amaniyea, another strong voice and bright spirit that we will certainly hear much more from. Yellowman, inspirational, and amazingly fit, was joined by his lovely and talented daughter K’reema. Very positive as always, it was great to see them working together. Big Youth was in fine form, blending his sound with humor and fluid body moves, and joined briefly by his son Tafari, who’s getting a lot of airplay with his song “All She Wants Is Love”. New Kingston, self-described “Urban Conscious Reggae family”, blended musical culture, representing both Jamaica and New York City with brothers Tahir, Courtney Jr., Stephen, and father Courtney Sr. And then there was Sizzla. Clearly a crowd favorite, this was his first performance in America in 8 years. He was accompanied offstage by his son Meleku who also performed his own set.

Other performers blessed with parents who blazed musical trails included Addis Pablo, performing on the melodica, and sounding very much like his later father, the great Augustus Pablo, and Keznamdi, who had traveled the world as a child with his parents who were in the band Chukula, as well as ranking Reggae Revivalist, Protoje, the son of famed Jamaican singer Lorna Bennett.

Other musical highlights of the festival included Jah9, Democratoz from Algeria, reggae trail-blazer Earl Zero with young singer Mathis Joubert from France, Fatoumata Diwara from Mali, Fyakin performing in the late night dancehall, Gappy Ranks, Ziggi Recado, House of Shem from New Zealand, Jesse Royal, Kranium, Mad Professor, Marty Dread, Randy Valentine, Mr. Williams, the engaging and artsy No-Maddz, toastmaster and treasure U-Roy, and the classic Soul Syndicate. Special shout out to the Congolese group Mbongwana Star whose set was vibrant, high energy and visually over the top.

Anthony B

32 years and 3 generations later, Reggae on the River still maintains its family friendly, gorgeous and rugged venue by the river. While the management, size, and line-up has fluctuated, the vibes remain the same. Most go annually, no matter who plays. They go to meet up with their Reggae families, to celebrate life and enjoy nature. The artists, too, always look forward to playing at this venue deep in the redwoods of Humboldt County, California.

Its time now to plan your trip to the 33rd annual Reggae On The River, to be held August 3-6, 2017. Go early and get your ideal spot on the river. Never underestimate the power of music to bring us together!


Reproduction without permission of United Reggae and Lee Abel is prohibited.

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