On the banks of the Eel River, one of California’s most popular and longest running music festivals, this Summer, the Mateel Community Center held the 31st annual Reggae on the River.
“Once again, Reggae on the River showed why it has been able to stay around for 31 years, and still draw large crowds and premier musical talent. I hope to see you there next year”!
Article by Hal Wendlinger
Photos by David Wendlinger
Those who attend ‘Reggae,’ as it is affectionately called, do so for a variety of reasons other than the wonderful music. The vending area is just as much of a draw for some visitors, with unique crafts, clothing and art highlighting the booths, not to mention delicious food vendors with a wide variety of options.
Friday began, as each day of the festival does, with an Opening Blessing to pay tribute to the indigenous people in the area.
Katchafire’s performance was a crowd favorite on Friday, the New Zealand based played an electric set that was capped with a crowd sing along to the music of Bob Marley. Fans around the bowl that I spoke with were talking about Katchafire’s amazing performance for the entirety of the weekend.
As the sky filled with darkness, the stage lights shined bright as two of the most energetic and captivating artists out there, performed back to back sets. Collie Buddz took the stage and took control of the crowd from the get go, with several of his songs being sung louder by the crowd, than by Collie himself. Feeding off the momentum Collie Buddz created, Cham took the stage at midnight and tore through a set which featured nearly all of his hits. After close to two hours of non-stop energy, screams from the adoring audience filled the air as Cham exited the stage, bringing Friday to a close.
Early Saturday, in one of the most meaningful performances of the weekend, Emmanuel Jal took the stage to share his message of hope with the audience. Jal, using powerful lyrics, was able to captivate the audience, singing of bringing peace to Sudan.
As Saturday continued on, Ce’Cile, one of the most popular dancehall artists around, kept the audience moving throughout her performance. Her movement and lyricism provided the crowd with one of the most energetic sets of the entire weekend.
Following Ce’Cile on stage was the much anticipated set of Tarrus Riley, Riley along with Blak Soil band leader and world class saxophonist Dean Fraser, delivered in what my opinion was the best performance of the weekend. People from all around the festival tried to get as close as they could to the stage, to listen to Riley’s incredible voice as he alternated between his newer and more popular songs.
Stephen Marley’s performance was an incredible moment for everyone who witnessed it, filling the crowds cravings for not only his music, but the music of his father, Bob Marley. As his set was coming to a close, Stephen brought his children, including son Jo Mersa of the Ghetto Youth Crew on stage for a final performance of Bob’s music. The Marley clan walked off stage together, waving as the crowd showered the stage with applause for several minutes, bring Saturday night to an amazing end.
Sunday afternoon was highlighted with a brilliant performance by The Congos. The crowd was very receptive to the roots music played and many members of the audience were years younger than the songs they were singing along to.
With the sun going down, Nahko and Medicine for the People took the stage for an uplifting set, one of which they are known to bring. Nahko used his powerful voice to share his message of positivity throughout the performance.
With the final musical performance of the festival, Alborosie showed off not only his ability to appease the crowd, but his powerful singing voice as well. With a charismatic and energetic set, the crowd was left screaming and begging for more of Alborosie’s music, even as the bands instruments were being hauled off stage.