Here on my Reggae Blog I want to introduce you to my favorite artists and albums, write about recent concerts and hopefully will be inspired to discover new music through your comments and in turn inspire you to check out some of the most amazing tunes ever to be recorded.

Saturday, September 25, 2004

It has been a while since I last posted something on my blog. I know, it seems to become a habit but the summer is just flying by. I spend most of my time in Spain learning the language and having a great time. Everybody that has been here before might understand why I don’t have the time to write. Well, but for one weekend I was home in Germany to go to the Sumerjam and that is worth a post. It has been almost three months now as well, but I can still remember it as if it was just last week...

Unfortunately both Ziggy Marley and Horace Andy cancelled their gigs. Lee Perry without doubt was a more than adequate replacement for Ziggy but they failed to get someone to fill Horace Andy’s shoes. Where was Big Youth???? Here is an overview of the program:

Friday Red Stage – Michael Franti, Max Herre, Lee ‘Scratch Perry’, etc

Green Stage – La Vela Puerca, Julian Marley, Culture, etc

Yellow Tent – Turtlebay Country Club

Saturday Red Stage – Sam Ragga band, Sanchez, Capleton, Bounty Killer (?)

Green Stage – Orchestra Baobab, Skatalites, Abyssinians, Lucky Dube

Yellow Tent – Roots Rockers, David Rodigan

Sunday Red Stage – Rico Rodriguez, Beenie Man, Luciano

Green Stage – Steel Pulse, Tryo, Ken Boothe w Soulfood International

Yellow Tent – Solar Moon Soundsystem

Nevertheless the 19th Summerjam was another great experience, I hope for everybody involved. But let’s start at the beginning. We arrived in Fuehlingen on Thursday afternoon at about 2 and we managed to get a decent place to put up our tent. At the beginning there was only three of us, my friends Cat and Marc came with. More people arrived early Friday morning and at some point during the day on Saturday. The weather was sub-optimal but at least it did not rain too much and our tent stayed dry during the whole weekend. The only exciting thing that happened Thursday night was that Greece beat the Czech Republic in the semis of the Euro-cup. Of course we did not have a TV with us but our neighbors were following the game on the radio.

First Day:

Friday’s program got shuffled through a bid because Steel Pulse got stuck at the French border (A border between France and Germany, what ever happened to Schengen? But that’s what we were told.) But we got lucky and saw all the important acts anyway. After seeing La Puela Vuelta play a little on the green stage Culture appeared all of a sudden completely unexpected at around 5. They were great. They had to make room for Steel Pulse who were rescheduled to play as the headliner on the Green Stage because of their delay. After a little over an hour of Culture we decided to check out Michael Franti for a while on the Red Stage and that proved to be a good idea. There weren’t many people in front of the stage but Franti put on a great show with lots of positive energy and after all was said and done he simply jumped of the stage into the crowed and basically gave everybody a hug who stopped by to listen to him. He has so much positive energy, a real example of positive summerjam spirit. After Michael was done it was straight back to the Green Stage for Julian Marley. Out of all Marley Brothers he resembles his dad the most in looks, voice and stage appearance. I like his music, but of course he’s best residing his dad’s work. And that he did. And how! And for the final it was back to the Red Stage were Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry headlined that night. He came on stage with one of his usual self-made costumes and played a lot of new stuff and a couple of old Dub favorites. The band that played with him was pretty good and I enjoyed the show a lot, however, it was a little sad that he did not play more of his 70’s stuff. But it is always an experience to see him live, and the last two times I went to see him in Germany he cancelled on the day of the show.

After Perry, Friday night came to an early end for us. It was important to conserve some energy for the two days to come.

Second Day:

Saturday started with cooking, and we were just about done with that when it started to rain. So we stayed in our tent a little longer before heading over to the island. The first band we saw that day was the Sam Ragga Band who played with Black Kappa from the first Seeed LP. That was nice but not too special either and I wanted to see the Orchestra Baobab on the Green Stage. And they were well worth to check out. A great mi of Caribbean sounds, african drums and a great JAzz guitarist. And all of it played with an amazingly cool attitude. And then came the Skatalites!!! The Legends! Obviously one of the highlights of the Jam 04. Since I don’t remember exactly which songs were played and in what order, the story of the concert is told quickly. “10 – 9 - 8 - 7 – 6 – 5 – 4 – 3 - 2 – 1 – Freedom.” And then the usual Llyod Brevett announcement “Jah Jah Jah Jah, Rastafari! This next one we gonna play for you we played in the 60’s we call …” with only slight alterations. A nice surprise was that Doreen Shafer was there as well to sing a couple of songs. All in all I don’t like her songs as much as the instrumentals the Skatalites play but it stirred up nice memories from past shows. Another nice surprise was that Vin Gordon came along and played trombone for them. Last two times I saw them with Cedric IM Brooks on tenor, which was fantastic as well. Unfortunately he was not there this time. After a great show on a packed Green Stage the audience was singing their last song for a good three minutes but the organizers were merciless. Understandable, but also a little sad. I would have loved to see them play another song or two. And as so often, one highlight followed the next and after the Skatalites, the Abyssinians played on the Green Stage backed by the Rasites. This was the act I was looking forward to most because I had only seen the once, and now in retrospect it was also my favorite show of the whole Summerjam. The best ‘Roots’ Sound of them all. Of course they played all of their big hits, Know Jah Today, Declaration of Rights (my personal favorite) and the all time roots hymn Satta Massa Ganna. After that we strolled around for a while, checked out Rodigan, but in the end I was too tired and went back to the tents at around 2.

Day 3:

Sundays, always hard because you start to get exhausted and tired of camping, especially when the weather is not great. But of course the program was going to be great. Motivation not a problem. As usual, the green stage was the place to be. However, we got really lucky skipping over to the Main Stage for a second when all of a sudden Rico Rodriguez played there about 90minutes earlier than expected. Didn’t miss a minute. What a show! It seems like he played almost all of the Wareika album plus a couple of other hits. We missed some of the Tryo show for it unfortunately, but it was well worth it.

Going back to Tryo, my friend Cat, who is just the biggest fan imaginable, saw some of the band members hanging out right next to us while the band before them was playing. I tried to get her to say hello, but she did not want to. Needless to say she’s been depressed ever since because of the missed opportunity. Tryo were awesome. There music is great, but what really makes them stand out is the complex stage show with all sort of acting, audience members on stage an other little skits. But right after Tryo came another top highlight of the Jam, Ken Boothe backed by Soulfood International formerly Court Jesters Crew outta TUEBINGEN, ja mon! absolute fantastic show. I don’t have to say much about Ken Boothe’s vocal qualities and Soulfood proved again that the best European Reggae sound is created in South West Germany!!!!!

Steel Pulse were last on the Green Stage, but we did not see all of the show. Of course the EuroCup final was going on with Greece pulling of the huge upset against Portugal. We had some more tea and headed home relatively early. It had been a long weekend. And I can’t wait for next year’s Jam to begin….

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