February’s Reggae Month is a month-long islandwide celebration of our indigenous music, organized by the Jamaica Reggae Industry Association (JaRIA) since 2009. Reggae Month 2020 theme has been dubbed ‘Come Ketch di Riddim’ (ie.’Come catch the rhythm’), inspiring Jamaican music lovers to feel the vibe of our infectious genres. JaRIA has signature events on the celebratory musical calendar: Reggae Open University, the JaRIA Honour Awards, and the Reggae Wednesdays concert series.
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Like Grounation, this event is a weekly fixture, but that doesn’t mean you’re not missing anything if you skip a staging. The show is one of the longest-running events on the Reggae Month calendar, and features different performers each time. This showpiece of our music and culture features weekly line-ups of popular, veteran, and upcoming artistes complementing changing themes.
One of the best things about Reggae Wednesdays is that each live show is 100% FREE! The music spills over into the streets of New Kingston’s business district, luring passers-by and guests from hotels and eateries close by. It’s evident here that quality performances and feel-good melodies captivate young and old alike, and amply connect with patrons of varying backgrounds.
Reggae Wednesdays: Reggae Month 2020
The weekly themes for 2020’s Reggae Wednesdays series are:
- One Big Family
- Dancehall Can’t Stall
- Reggae Got Soul
- Di Riddim in Worship
Week 1: One Big Family
The opening show set a high bar for the future ones, attracting a sizeable crowd that only swelled as the weeks went on. A collection of strong vocals, pulsating instrumentals, and energetic dancers produced an effervescent vibe. Jah Wiz’s impressive range begged for an acapella showcase, while Feluke’s charm and Papa Michigan’s quirky, high-energy set really brought the event up a notch. George Nooks had the crowd in the palm of his hand, closing the event with a slew of both reggae and gospel hits.
- Abbey Dallas
- Akwaaba Drummers
- George Nooks
- Hyah Grade & Twin Star In2nation
- Jah Wiz
- One Third
- Papa Michigan
Week 2: Dancehall Can’t Stall
Though the major focus of the month and Reggae Wednesdays is reggae music, by no means does that mean our other beloved genres are excluded from the commemorations. From the vibrant presence of veteran artiste Big Youth to the singjay stylings of ‘gangsta ras’ Munga, multiple sides of our sometimes-controversial dancehall genre were on display. Chi Ching Ching got Emancipation Park moving with his collection of dancing hits such as Wire, Rope, and of course hot hit Breadfruit. Popular group Dance Xpressions is known for mixing skits and cultural norms into their rhythmic routines. Their Journey Through Dance set highlighting top Jamaican moves from past to present definitely didn’t disappoint.
- Akwaaba Drummers
- Big Youth
- Chi Ching Ching
- Dancehall Pastor
- Munga Honourable
- Ruff Kutt Band
Week 3: Reggae Got Soul
The night was a smooth, dubwise fusion of reggae with a mix of R&B; a slower and smoother tempo when compared to the weeks before. Performers inspired the audience to skank and sing along to hit favourites all evening. Upcoming artiste Lymie Murray captivated with his renditions of timeless tunes such as Night Nurse and Cruisin’, before the swooning stylings of Chris Martin and conscious catalogue by Luciano further ignited the crowd. The packed open-air venue was more than warmed up to embrace the ska and rocksteady vibe by headliners Toots and the Maytals.
Performers (+ a number of cameo artistes):
- Akwaaba Drummers
- Christopher Martin
- Droop Lion
- Lymie Murray
- Ras Ajai
- Toots & the Maytals
Week 4: Di Riddim in Worship
Being staged on Ash Wednesday, which commences the beginning of Lent in Christianity, the appropriately-themed event is expected to further showcase the fusion of gospel with reggae music. George Nooks and Luciano presented samples of what patrons could possibly expect, including their respective hits ‘God is Standing By’ and ‘It’s me again Jah’ in Reggae Wednesdays’ previous weeks. This uplifting musical unification definitely has its own subgenre, with multiple songs transcending the traditional Christian community to become widely-loved smash hits!
As the closing event of the series and the start of a religious period, it is only fair that music lovers be blessed with the positivity and purity of reggae music, don’t you think? One Love indeed.
Come out and celebrate Jamaican music that has impacted and inspired so many around the world for decades.
How does reggae music typically make you feel?
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