JazzReggae Festival-Hot Fun in the Summertime
Los Angeles-Summer doesn't began until several weeks from now. Unofficially, JazzReggae Festival welcomed the summer season, Memorial Day Weekend, Sunday, May 26th and Monday, May 27th on the Intramural Field at UCLA.
In its 27 years of existence, the JazzReggae Festival at UCLA has made a striking name for itself, becoming the largest student-run festival in the United States. The popularity of the festival resulted in a complete sell out of both days in 2011. The festival is known world wide for bringing together and attracting a diverse crowd of music aficionados, with their shared loved of hip hop, jazz, neo soul and reggae underneath the L.A. skyline, while taking in some beautiful Southern California weather, on picture perfect days. The annual JazzReggae Festival has become one of Los Angeles' most celebrated events-kicking off the summer musical performances with internationally known musicians.
The 27th Edition of the festival entered a new dimension of riffs, melodies, and bold beats that highlighted the multifaceted performers and their talents. Jam Day featured The Street Hearts, Gluck Jazz Ensemble, Ryan McDermott, Jene Aiko, The Grouch and Eligh, Common and Santigold. Reggae Day consisted of The Reggae Angels, Kes The Band, Marcia Griffiths, Mr. Vegas, Barrington Levy and Ziggy Marley.
The festival always generate plenty of buzz when the line up is finalized and announced, while the festival is taken place and days and months after the festival courtesy of the world wide reach of social media.
The JazzReggae Festival has several key elements, some people are drawn to the festival to experience some of the mouthwatering cuisine of the food booths, others like to browse and shop at the arts and crafts, memorabilia and music booths for souvenirs. Music is the glue that brings us all together, whether it is hip-hop, neo-soul, dancehall, soca or roots reggae.
Local group The Street Hearts opened the 27th Annual Jazz Reggae Festival. The group recently won The Battle of the Bands to earn the honor of opening the festival. Their style of music is mixture of pop,folk and a tinge of bluegrass. The group performed "The Beggar" an original tune to start their set. They followed with a pleasing arrangement of Ain't No Sunshine" by Bill Withers, and continued with "Dog Gone Days," "Come Back Home," and "Feet on the Ground;Head in the Clouds." a positive tune to spread positive vibes and joy around the festival.
UCLA was well representated through the next band. The Gluck Jazz Ensemble from the Herb Albert School of Music. The band members are Jonah Levine-trombone, Nathan Kersey-Wilson-saxophne, Zach Ramacier-trumpet, Brandon Bridges-drums, Kiefer Shackleford-piano, and Owen Clapp-bass. Due to time contraints, the band were only able to perform two original tunes "Honesty," and "False Alarm." I'm sure that we will here more from the group in the future collectively, or as leaders in their own right.
Ryan McDermott is an artist, writer, producer, and newest member of the G.O.O.D. Music/Island Def Jam Family. He captivated the crowd with his soulful and smooth voice on the tunes "No Say Me," "Where Did I Go Wrong," "Sleepwalking," "Give Me a Love Sign," "That Girl," and "Paradise."
Just like baseball have the seventh inning stretch, the tempo at the Jazz Reggae Festival increase tremendously for the remainder of the afternoon.
Jhene Aiko is a Los Angeles native and rising star in the hip-hop and neo-soul arena. She cemented that claim during her performance on the tunes "Higher," "Burning Man," "Keep Your Head Up" (tribute to Tupac), "Stranger," and "Comfort Inn Ending."
The throttle was cranked up a knotch during the high octane set delivered by Grouch and Eligh. I have to agree with one of my fellow photographers when he stated "their lyrics, beats and flow were tight" on the tunes "All In," and "Say G & E" aided and abetted by DJ Fresh "The Freshes One."
Actor, Author,and Conscious Rapper-Common had the entire festivals' undivided attention from the moment he came onstage until his final lyric. Everyone was standing up and making their way toward the stage. They were rewarded with the tunes "Be," "The Light," "Universal Mind Control," "The People," "Testifying," and "Come Close" while serenading Festival worker whose name was Emily or Emory onstage.
Santigold delivered a rousing set of original tunes worthy of her status as a headliner to close out Jam Day of the 27th Annual Jazz Reggae Festival on the campus of UCLA.
The infectious danceable rhythms of reggae, dancehall, and soca reverberated throughout Westwood on the final day of the Jazz Reggae Festival. Everyone was swaying and grooving to the good vibes generated by the artists entertaining the crowd on this sunny but pleasant day.
The Reggae Angels provided the spark that sent a surge of power to kick off Reggae Day. Their positive energy was felt on the tunes "Just Do It," "Live Positive," "Feed the Hungry," and "More Guidance Time."
Kes The Band from Trinidad y Tabago returned for another high octane set of soca full of energy and lots of audience participation. He did a roll call of the Caribbean community who were present and proudly waving flags or donning clothings or other memorabilia. He performed "Wotless," "Can't Wait," "Tuesday," and "Where Yuh From."
Marcia Griffiths has been referred to as "The Empress" of Reggae, "Reggae Matriarch," "Reigning Queen" on the Reggae Scene and a "Musical Pearl. The crowd was up and dancing along to "Electric Boogie" also while singing in harmony to "Childless Games," "I Shall Sing," "Closer to You," "Nanny Goat" and "Could It Be Love" in a tribute to Bob Marley.
Mr. Vegas delivered an adrenaline fueled set of tunes "Gimme Light," "Sweet Jamaica," "Take It Easy," "Roses in My Garden," "Love Yourself," and Bruk It Down" to the delight of the crowd and I.
No rest for the weary, as Barrington Levy exploded unto the stage for a long set. He performed several of his hits. I enjoyed the tune "Too Experienced to be Taken for a Ride." Mr. Vegas joined him onstage to sing "I Love the Way She Loves."
Ziggy Marley opened his set with "Family Time." This was an appropriate tune considering that he is a part of Reggae royalty. This tune was also a way to summerize the unity people were experiencing with one another. He contined his set with "Tree Song," "Africa Unite," "Still the Storm," and "Changes."
The JazzReggae Festival at UCLA consistently provide an exciting fun-filled weekend with food, arts and crafts, environmental awareness, for a diverse audience, gathered to fellowship with other like minded people, while enjoying eclectic, world music.The Jazz Reggae Festival is the pride and joy of the Westwood campus.