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Öland Roots 2011

Öland Roots 2011

Öland Roots 2011

By on - Photos by Anna Thunander - Comment

Cool and casual at Öland Roots festival.

Öland Roots is Sweden’s coziest festival and has grown a lot in recent years – from being a fairly small festival with mainly Swedish acts to a well organized event with two stages with several foreign artists, this year boosting Junior Kelly, Etana and Queen Omega among many more. This was the eleventh festival and it was sold out for the fifth year in a row.

Oland Roots 2011

The setting of the festival is beautiful. The premises are located in the woods just next to the beach on Öland, an island in the southern part of Sweden.

The crowd is a vital mix of young and old people, and several have dreadlocks and African inspired clothes. Only vegetarian and vegan food are served and it’s also a kind of family vibe, since there are lots of children. The secluded area for drinking beer probably adds to that.

This year Öland Roots took place Friday to Saturday July 15-16th. But it had a sneak start on Thursday night when All Out Dubstep and Curfew Steppas played on the beach between 1.00 and 4.00 in the morning. And those beach parties also take place on the two other nights. This year with Sweden’s Safari Sound, Million Vibes and Ashman as well as Dutch Herb-A-Lize It.

Several Swedish acts on Friday

On Friday it rained during the day, but that didn’t stop the attendees from partying and dancing to mainly Swedish bands and artists, such as Stures Dansorkester and Glesbygd’n. The crowd was also treated rising dancehall star T’Nez as well as Queen Omega and Mark Wonder who were on a short European tour and luckily enough dropped by Öland.

T’Nez performed at 8.00 pm, a usually awkward time at a festival. Most people are away eating, drinking and preparing for the night. The crowd was therefore pretty thin in the beginning of the set. But T’Nez raw energy and charismatic appearance had people running to see him perform a string of up tempo dancehall hits.

Oland Roots 2011

Mark Wonder and Queen Omega had the last slot on Friday night. Due to some sound difficulties Mark Wonder took stage at a quarter to one, 45 minutes after schedule. His Garnett Silk like aesthetics and gospel-infused voice swept me off my feet for about 45 minutes. It’s a bit sad though that he was off-key during his last tune.

Queen Omega took stage after Mark Wonder and was also supposed to perform for 45 minutes. But the sound difficulties made her show 15 minutes shorter. Despite the troubles she made a wicked performance and owned the stage from start to finish. She has an authority few come close to and a treasure chest full of mind-blowing tunes.

Great performances from start to finish on Saturday

Saturday started off in fine style, and the sun was shining when Hanouneh performed her hip-hop/dancehall influenced roots reggae.

And the strong performances replaced one another. Jah Turban, Joey Fever, Mr. Williamz, Etana, Million Stylez and Junior Kelly were all in great shape.

Oland Roots 2011

Joey Fever took over the smaller Roots stage in the late afternoon. His Jah Cure styled singing and UK styled MC:ing was appreciated by the crowd. His voice seemed a bit tired though since he had been warm-up for Busy Signal in Stockholm and Malmö the two nights before. Therefore the best song parts were in deejay style rather than straight singing.

Mr. Williamz probably had the festival’s hardest slot. Saturday between 7.45 and 8.45 pm. The crowd was very thin, which is very unfortunate. Mr.Williamz – backed by UK-producer Curtis Lynch – made a solid 30 minute set where he performed all of his Curtis Lynch produced tunes. Mr. Williamz has attended dancehall school, which was very obvious during the set. During the last 30 minutes Mr. Lynch juggled some of his own material.

Oland Roots 2011Etana has one of the sweetest voices in contemporary reggae music and she performed an impressive string of hits during her one hour show. She set the mood with Jah Chariot from her debut album followed by tunes such as Mocking Bird, August Town and I’m Not Afraid. She spiced up her own catalogue with a vast number of cover songs, whereof three from Bob Marley. She also did a nice a cappella introduction to Rivers of Babylon, originally performed by The Melodians.

The vastly talented Million Stylez took stage at 10.45 pm in front of a huge cheering crowd. He jumped onto stage to Love We a Deal With. But this version sounded like it was on speed. And this was actually for every tune on his set. The pace was high and the temperature rose when he invited Joey Fever to perform alongside him on Young Gunz, and the same for Mr. Williamz during Police in Helicopter.

Junior Kelly rounded off the festival. And what a concert this tall rastaman from Spanish Town did. He was backed by The Roots Harmonics Band – their fifth act during the festival which makes them something of a house band at Öland Roots – and two background singers. He performed nine songs in a row before saying something to the crowd. Then he was at it again. His songs of freedom and justice were performed in a hard tempo and he often only did two minutes of each tune. A great finish to a mighty fine festival.


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