Charlemont Reggae festival by Eric Sutter

Charlemont Reggae Festival
A Tribute to Ras Jahn Bullock
Charlemont Fairgrounds, Charlemont, MA
August 26, 2017

Story by Eric Sutter

 

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Charlemont Reggae Festival 2017 was dedicated to the life of Ras Jahn (John) Bullock, who passed away in April. As the founder and driving force of the festival, he was instrumental in bringing the first Charlemont Reggae Festival in Sept. 1985 and popularizing reggae in the Northeast with his band Loose Caboose.

Ras Spectiv performs in the afternoon of the Charlemont Reggae Festival – photo by Scott O’Connor

In the 90’s, he and Abdul Baki worked to grow the festival at the fairgrounds. Since then, it has continued to bring top-notch reggae and world beat bands to the area. Friends and family including Elizabeth Loving continue to keep this love going. This year’s celebration featured Bob Marley tributes by One Drop and the Berklee Bob Marley Ensemble. The popular Marley festive song, “Jammin'” sounded superb with a beautiful day, fine people and fun. A diversity of folks danced and shared food together with children and grandchildren. “Could You Be Loved?” Yes! Multi-generational activities ensued with a playground and the familiar Frisbee toss. Ras Spectiv shared their “So Much Trouble In The World”… the answer is in hope and love.

The Equalites performed their “One Love” music. “This World” and “Where There Is Love” rang true with David Boatright’s electric guitar accenting a killer reggae groove. The latest CD from the band hailing from Greenfield and the surrounding hill towns is Rethink Positive.

The Alchemystics perform at the Charlemont Reggae Festival

Dave Noonan’s Green Island performed in a jazzy horn reggae/ska style. Upbeat island music was punctuated by trumpet blasts and mellow saxaphones. Assorted island percussion made for much dancing. Guest vocalist Clover sang Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On” with members of Morgan Heritage and Rebelle joining in.

The Pioneer Valley-based world beat group Shokozoba performed a tight and powerful set of lively dance music to the sheer delight of the audience. The Berklee Bob Marley Ensemble offered precise renditions of Marley classic. “Get Up, Stand Up” and “Wait In Vain” sounds great!

“Lively Up Yourself” was the rootsy theme of the day. Northampton’s own the Alchemystics performed their island fusion of reggae, soul, and hip hop.  This was the band with which Ras Jahn was most identified in the last five years, having played shows from Maine to the Carolinas with the Alchemystics.  A tribute to Ras Jahn encored with Roger Steffens as a final salute to end the colorful celebration.

Catch the Alchemystics in Court Square, Springfield for the downtown Springfield Jam on Sept. 9, 2017!

 

To submit a review or story for consideration hit us at lmnandr@gmail.com

Check out the Live Music News and Review.com Facebook page for updates and announcements.

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