This year Hawks and Reed is organizing the 24th annual Charlemont Reggae Festival, New England’s longest-running reggae festival, with artists Mykal Rose, The Alchemystics, Rebelle, Rhythm Incorporated, The Big Takeover and many more. In memory of the festival’s founder Ras Jahn Bullock, who passed away in 2017, the festival will continue to bring local and national acts to the picturesque town of Charlemont. Tickets are $35, gates open at 11 a.m. and music starts at noon.
The Charlemont Reggae Festival is New England’s longest running reggae festival, and has been a staple in western Massachusetts for the past 35 years. The goal of the festival is to bring the community and beyond together through the power of reggae music. Nowadays, it’s more important than ever for folks to gather in positivity & good vibes, let one another know that there is still much love in the world, embrace the goodness of the music, friends, family and then to leave feeling rejuvenated & ready to share that love!
The story of the Charlemont Reggae Festival begins in 1978 when Bob Marley invited Ras Jahn Bullock and his band Loose Caboose to record at the legendary Tuff Gong Studio in Kingston, Jamaica. Grateful for the incredible opportunity, Ras Jahn sought to pay that blessing forward by focusing on local and regional reggae talent at an outdoor festival.
The first Charlemont Reggae Festival took place August 17th, 1985 and featured Boston-based reggae bands African Roots, The New Lions and ZionIntation in addition to Ras Jahn’s Loose Caboose. At that time there was no pavilion at the fairgrounds and the simple stage consisted of two long flatbeds put together with a very large blue tarp over them in case it rained. The festival picked up again in 1995 when former ZionInatation keyboard player Abdul Baki moved to the Charlemont area and worked with Ras Jahn to organize the annual event. Over time the festival has expanded to include even more local and national acts for up to 12 hours of music and several local vendors.
Ras Jahn and his wife Elizabeth Loving kept the festival going for years with the help and support of their friends Andrea Morris, Bren Carey, Diane Dodds, Ethel Allen, Kisha Zullo, Patty & Gary Samuel and Bob & Zach Bond along with countless and invaluable volunteers. Sadly, Ras Jahn passed away in April of 2017. With the encouragement and support from Elizabeth, Hawks and Reed is taking the reins of the festival and will work hard to keep it thriving for years to come. For those who have been long time attendees of the Charlemont Reggae Fest, you already know that without the late Ras Jahn Bullock’s dedication and love for reggae and community this event would not exist.
Food and craft vendors will include Magic Tree Henna, Caribbean Eats, Tangible Bliss, Rae’s Cafe, an interactive snow cone machine called Hamster Works, Cakes By Reba, Moldavite Dreams, Maple Valley Ice Cream, Vibesman’s Jerk Shack and Mijumi Art. This festival is family friendly and will also feature a children’s tent with live music by Under The Tree Arts, face painting and crafts.
Volunteers who work a three-hour shift helping with ticketing, parking, trash or security get a free ticket to the festival.
Mykal Rose will headline this years festival. For over 25 years, he has been recording and performing his brand of militant, hardcore Jamaican music to the delight of reggae fans around the world. As a solo artist, with Black Uhuru, and back as a solo artist, the “Ruff” Rose has achieved great success throughout his career, even as different Jamaican musical styles have phased in and out of popularity. Perhaps the highest profile recognition came in 1984, when Michael Rose and the other Black Uhuru members (Duckie Simpson, Puma Jones, Sly Dunbar, and Robbie Shakespeare) won reggae’s first Grammy award for the album, Anthem.
Hawks & Reed Performing Arts Center is a multi-venue that boasts a diversity of events and a vibrant community of artists and performers.
WHO: Mykal Rose, Mighty Mystic, The Alchemystics, Rebelle, The Big Takeover, SoulTree, Rhythm Incorporated, No Lens, The Equalities, Wheel Out, Dave Noonan’s Green Island, Brian Bender & The Riddim Makers
WHAT: Reggae, ska, groove, funk
WHEN: Saturday, August 17, Doors: 11:00 am / Music: 12:00 pm
WHERE: Charlemont Fairgrounds, Fairgrounds Rd. Charlemont, MA 01339 Directions: follow Route 2 into Charlemont center, then turn north onto Route 8A (Davis Mine Road) follow for about .2 miles then take right onto Park St. before the Bissell Covered Bridge