Before we could even reach the field where the concert was to be held, crowds of people adorned with dreads, brightly colored wraps, beads and different country flags (i.e., Jamaica, Belize) began to gather with anticipation upon their face. This is when I knew that Wi gwaan hav a bashment time (we were going to have a good time) on day 2, Reggae Day, of the 21st Annual UCLA JazzReggae Festival. Being the somewhat unofficial representative for Brasil (I had on my Brasil colors), I couldn't wait to experience what Mario Chacon, my trusty sidekick, had proclaimed as one the best outdoor Reggae concerts to hit the city of Los Angeles. Now, I have to admit that I am a bit unfamiliar with Reggae and Dancehall music, so I leaned heavily on the knowledge of Mr. Chacon throughout the day (Thank You).
Some of the early headliners included Ms. Triniti, Mr. Peppa and General Degree. All of which I had the opportunity to chat with about their performances and future plans.
Ms. Triniti who split her time growing up in the UK and Caribbean has now made Los Angeles her home and is quickly staking a claim in the city of stars and cars. With performances along side artists like Sean Paul and Cham, Triniti knows how to get around. Her solo performance consisted of upbeat songs and choreographed dances that got the crowd going. Although this was her first time performing at the festival, Triniti handle it like a pro and stated that she felt very good about the performance and the crowd. Additional information on the soft-spoken songstress can be obtained by logging onto her Website: www.trinitiswebsite.com.
After nearly 9 years of professional recording, Arael Jahzeal Walters, a.k.a Mr. Peppa, knows a thing or two about the business. Just how a little 'peppa' can kick up the flavor in your food, Mr. Peppa added a whole lot of flavor to the music industry. Some of his signature tunes, 'Baby Dem, 'You So Proud', and 'All You Need To Know', which featured Christopher for BYG Family Musik, have been making headways here in the U.S. and abroad. Currently, he is working on his album in Jamaica under the label Natural Bridge Records. Although he doesn't have a set date as to when the album is going to drop, I am sure fans will be constantly on the lookout to find out what he has going on. If you need a fix of Mr. Peppa before his album drops, you can catch him in New York at the JamRock Reggae festival with Shaggy. Can't make it to New York? Catch him on his MySpace at www.myspace.com/mrpeppamusic.
To close out the festival, we had performances from major heavy hitters like Cham, a.k.a Baby Cham, and Luciano. Although I didn't gain the opportunity to speak with Luciano, I was grateful for the opportunity to interview Cham. I have to start off by saying that Cham is one of the nicest and most charismatic artists that I have come across. He took time to speak with his fans and didn't tire of the numerous requests to take pictures. During his performance, he kept it real with his fans by performing some of his traditional Dancehall hits. Ms. Triniti even made it back out on the stage to perform a duet with the critically acclaimed Dancehall artist. When asked how important it is to keep to the roots of Dancehall, Cham simply states that you can't deviate from what made you who you are and Dancehall is what made him. He is sticking to that for his 2nd album, which he is working on right now with legendary producer Dave 'The Stranger' Kelly. The single from the currently untitled album will be dropping sometime this Summer, so fans should definitely be on the lookout. And just look at the collaborators -Carl Thomas, T-Pain, Mya and Rick Ross to name a few Nice! I can't wait Baby Cham!
As always, many celebrities came out to savor the food and music. One of these celebrities included rap artist and actor Lil' Zane. Lil' Zane had a string of hits as a teen rap protege in 2000 and since then has been making the transition over to adult actor and rap star. He has appeared in films such as Dr. Doolittle 2 and Finding Forrester, but the best is yet to come for this hardworker. Currently, Zane is working on an interactive Web/TV show for NBC to air in July 2007, a couple different movies one titled Diary of a Champion and he is always working on his music. Despite a busy schedule, Zane took time out of his busy schedule to come enjoy Reggae Day at the festival. He was amp'd to hear the music of Cham and enjoy a bit of jerk chicken.
All in all, I truly had a great time at the festival and I can't wait for next year. I can see this becoming a Memorial Day tradition form here on out! I have to give a special thanks to Justin Mikita for coordinating the media efforts for this event!
Additional pictures from the event!