Heading up to Reggae on the River this year? Here are some tips for all East Bay idren, courtesy of Corbett Harvey Bowers I, chief operator for Jah Love Universal Sounds. 1) Drink plenty of water; 2) Remember to bring sunscreen; 3) If you get too hot, take a break from skanking to the live music and go for a dip in the river; and 4) Bring a folding chair, snacks (especially antioxidant-infused fruits), and an ice chest to keep everything cool.
Bowers qualifies as an authority on RoTR. A longtime reggae fan and sound system owner, he has played at the annual festival — happening Friday through Sunday at French’s Camp in Humboldt County — for twenty of its 22 years. In that time, he has seen the event grow from a small-time t’ing (“maybe one or two international acts and a lot of local acts”) to a major cultural happening (“it’s an event that all the major artists want to play”). The reason he returns every year? “It’s so laid-back, the atmosphere mellows you out.” And while the aggressive tempos of dancehall tend to be popular with younger crowds, at family-friendly RoTR, roots are the order of the day. “The DJs don’t play any slackness,” Bowers explains, adding that he generally spins mostly “foundation” reggae — roots, dub, and a touch of classic or conscious dancehall.
As for the live music, this year’s lineup focuses on both classic and emerging reggae artists, but also reflects a wider, global appeal. In addition to Jamaican favorites I-Wayne, Anthony B, Richie Spice & 5th Element, Junior Reid, Prezident Brown, Tony Rebel, Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley, and Stephen Marley, Ivory Coast’s Alpha Blondy, and England’s Maxi Priest, the bill also includes alt.hopper Lyrics Born, global electronica pioneers Transglobal Underground, nueva Latin stars Ozomatli and O-Maya, Haitian singer Emeline Michele, Trinidadian soca master Rupee, Senegalese rap group Daara J, the ubiquitous Michael Franti, and many more. Tickets have long been sold out, but remember, all you Jah disciples: Where there’s a will, there’s eBay. For more info, visit ReggaeontheRiver.com