After an action packed day before, I figured I would have a more chill day in store for Reggae Day at the UCLA Jazz Reggae festival. Did that actually happen? Yes and No. First checking out the vendor booths before the festivities began, was amused they had a see-saw that you could ride to produce a snowcone as well as water refilling stations with water coolers, encouraging festivalgoers to reuse bottles or cups which I thought was great. Other festivals could take a lesson from this. Starting the day off, Cris Cab played to the crowd of young ladies who got there early to see him. Hearing buzz about this young reggae kid and watching a few interviews with him saying he worked with Pharrell and Wyclef recently, I had to see what he was all about. He mixes slightly geeky “boy next door” John Mayer/Dave Matthews with a little Marley and Snow, which screeching teen girls in the Bieber (though I think his songs are much deeper than “Boyfriend”) crowd will love. Talked to him briefly after his set about how his Pharrell and Wyclef productions came about and his “musical pasta”. Could see he’s about to blow up as he seems like a very nice guy you’d bring home to Mom which I hope sticks, because not all girls want bad rasta boys.
Don Carlos and Tarrus Riley’s sets later in the day definitely chilled the crowd with their traditional style of reggae that makes all stress dissolve. Listening to them, you believe that yes, “every little thing gonna be alright”. Kes the Band and queen of soca Alison Hinds cranked the energy up and got the party started with their soca sets. Creating a “Carnival” atmosphere” which is the cherished Caribbean time to party, the crowd winded, jumped and waved in response. Ending the day was Shaggy, one of the most famous reggae and dancehall artists ever, going very lowkey, starting his set offstage with the DJ playing classic reggae songs like “Welcome to Jamrock”, he did all of his hits like ” Mr. Boombastic”, “It Wasn’t Me” and “Angel” which had the crowd dancing the whole time. Surprisingly being able to catch up with him before he hit the stage, I asked him about legend status, performing as an Ex-Marine on Memorial Day and what was behind “Summer in Kingston. Wasn’t surprised to find he’s definitely proud and not humble about his success, as he put Jamaica back on the map in the pop genre. After the second day of fun, I left with some Jamaican patties ( I love them), more new friends, a tan and great appreciation for music of my culture.