Enter a city or US Zip  
Washington DC's Weather
VOL 3. NO. 27 Monday, July 16 - Sunday, July 22, 2001
SIGN UP NOW! FREE Metro Connection email newsletter.

Reggae Music At Home And Abroad
By Avonie BROWN

Baha Men, courtesy photo

Shaggy, courtesy photo

Around here we've got reggae music on our mind. And fortunately, the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area gets a steady stream of reggae's best international performers. Shaggy, Beenie Man, Luciano and Buju Banton have all recently performed at area venues. And week after week, locally based talents like Willie Paul/DKGB, Ras D and others help maintain the vibes.
On Friday, July 20 another tropical treat comes our way. Wolf Trap will be the scene of Reggae Fest 2001. Headlining the showcase are the Baha Men. A la Bobby McFerrin's 1980s' musical mantra "Don't Worry, Be Happy," the fellas from Bahamas have given us "Who Let the Dogs Out?" It seems no sporting event would be complete without this contagious riff blasting. All this attention helped to propel the album to number one on Billboard's "Top Independent Album" chart.

Joining the Baha Men is singer Maxi Priest. The British performer gained widespread notice Stateside in 1988 with his reggae remake of the Cat Steven's song "Wild World." Other hits would follow with Priest showcase his musical diversity and infectious blend of R&B, Jazz, hip hop and reggae. Rounding out the group is Gregory Isaacs, one of reggae music's superstar icons. The "cool ruler's career has spanned more than three decades and his smooth and easy ballads have been captured on an impressive 86 records including his most recent Reasoning With the Almighty. Tickets for the performance are $20-$30. Call 703-218-6500.

All who have been apart of the Metro Connection experience for the last three years, will be very familiar with our summer ritual - a trip to Jamaica, the mecca of reggae music. Every summer the island is overrun with thousands of reggae revelers who return to the music's birthplace to indulge themselves with the sounds of some of the best performers the genre has to offer. And each year we willingly wade through the madness just so we capture the full flavor and share it with those who remain grounded.

For us it really began with Reggae Sunsplash in 1985 (the annual festival actually began in 1978). And each year we have immersed ourselves in the pulsating glory of the music and culture of this island retreat. But after more than 20 years, the production quality became inconsistent, the venue was switched from Montego Bay to Kingston and later Ocho Rios, and moved from mid-summer to early February. For this and other reasons Reggae Sunsplash's long run as the premier reggae music festival lost its popular appeal.

Enter Reggae Sumfest in 1993. From the very beginning organizers made it clear that its main focus was to expose and promote Jamaica's music to the world. And because Sumfest Productions Ltd. included the heavy involvement of key personnel in Montego Bay's hotel and tourism community, the festival was also founded on some very economic principles. With heavy marketing internationally, the festival enticed music lovers to make Jamaica their vacation destination. With over 50,000 taking the bait each year, the festival helps to generate economic activity throughout the country, and that has had a positive impact on the foreign exchange earning potential of the island.

Nestled between Jamaica's Emancipation and Independence Day celebrations, countdown is underway to the six-day event scheduled for July 31 - August 5, 2001. Beyond the marketing hype Sumfest Productions Ltd. has done an impressive job in its handling of the musical affair. There have been tighter controls of the program year after year and improvements in the stadium facilities. But reggae purists continue to lament the insistence on including non-reggae acts in the mix. This year they've included Snoop Dog, Alicia Keys and Ja Rule. On some level the diversity does make sense as it clearly helps to broaden the festival's appeal to audiences in Jamaica and internationally.

But the masses still go wild for the unparalleled lineup of reggae acts. Confirmed to date are: Shaggy, Beres Hammond, Beenie Man, Luciano, Bunny Wailer, Freddie McGregor, Glen Washington, Cocoa T, Bounty Killer, Capleton, Merciless, Baby Cham, TOK, Sizzla, Mr. Lexx, Mr. Vegas, Alozade, Bling Dawg and more. (A preliminary schedule is provided below). While all artists will no doubt be primed to deliver good performances the word is still out on who will most likely get the crowd's nod as the festival's MVP. Last year all paled in comparison to the electrifying performance of Capleton who hit song "More Fire!" nearly had the thousands burning down the arena from sheer fanatical excitement.

For details and regular updates about Sumfest 2001 as well as travel information visit the festival's official website at www.reggaesumfest.com.

Reggae Sumfest Schedule
Date Event Featured Artist Selectors or Backing Band
Jul 31
Sound System Night at Pier One Sound Waves International DJ Khaled, Tony Matterhorn, Heather Cummings, and DJ Lippo
Aug 1
Beach Party at Caribbean Beach Park Byron Lee & The Dragonaires, Professor Nuts, Pinchers, Hard Copy Models Marlon Young & Colin Hines of FAME FM, Vibes Masters - Oscar B & Jackie Norman
Aug 2
Dancehall Night at Catherine Hall Beenie Man, Bounty Killer, Sizzla, Baby Cham Elephant Man, Merciless, Mr. Vegas, Hawkeye, Frisco Kid, Ce'Cile Ricky Rudie A.K.A. Bling Dawg, Lt. Stitchie, Alozade, Delly Ranks, Okonko, Major Lloyd, Black Lion, Silva Kid, Buss De Place Crew, Little General. Ruff Cut Crew, Thugs
Aug 3
Singers Night at Catherine Hall Luciano, Glen Washington, Tony Rebel, John Holt George Nooks, Coco Tea, Admiral Tibet Paul Elliott, Abijah, Mackie Conscious Sane Band
Aug 4
International Night I at Catherine Hall Snoop Dogg, Alicia Keys, Freddie McGregor Damian "Jr. Gong" Marley & The Ghetto Youths Crew featuring Stephen & Julian Marley, Barrington Levy Gumption
Aug 5
International Night II at Catherine Hall Shaggy, Ja Rule, Bunny Wailer Richie Stephens, TOK, V.C., and Fourth Street Sisters Gumption

Welcome Calendar Connection What's Up?/Story Ideas/Events Classified Ads Best Black Web Sites Business Services Including our Ujamaa Black Business Directory Our Print Edition Our Advertising Media Kit Contact Us/Feedback Form