The 22nd edition of one of reggae's main events in Belgium entitled "Reggae 2000" took place at Friday 4th and Saturday 5th August in the Belse Bossen in Geel, Belgium. This year's edition encountered serious problems like a computer crash and relocating the festival due to heavy rainshowers earlier in the week, which probably caused some flaws in the organization. However, musically spoken expectations were raised high regarding the artists that were announced for "Reggae 2000".


Friday 4th August :
Dancehall time all the way!

Gentleman, Daddy Rings & Killin' Riddim Section, Bodyguard & Jah Sound International with support from Ragga Ragga Sound.
Saturday 5th August:

Sista a.k.a. "Women in Reggae showcase", Bim Sherman, Chukki Starr, Starkey Banton, Al Campbell, Sugar Minott, Barrington Levy, Freddie McGregor & Ruff Cutt Band.

AbaKush's Jena Bim Sherman Freddie McGregor Barrington Levy Al Campbell
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One of the revelations during "Reggae 1999" was the London based all-female band "Abakush". They did a very impressive set and the band got good response from the crowd. Now the members of Abakush were deservedly back in Geel as part of the appealing "Sista" concept, which combines the musical forces of the women of Akabu, AbaKush, Trilla Jenna, Sister Aisha and Jayzik. Read more about "Sista" and their perfomance in the article "Original Girlpower! Sista.. "Women In Reggae"

After Sista's solid performance it was reggae vet Bim Sherman who took the main stage to do a so-called "unplugged" set. Although maybe a little bit strange to feature an "unplugged" set on a reggae festival, as reggae music heavily leans on the "drum & bass" section, it depends on the artists whether it works or not. Like Levi Roots last year, Bim Sherman is also one of those reggae singers who is capable of delivering a decent "unplugged" performance. In the first part of his set he mainly concentrated on his more recent work including tunes from "Miracle", a wonderful album with acoustic versions of his best known songs. Then, as he went back to the early years of his career, the music became more up-tempo and the backing "heavier". "Mighty Ruler" was definitely one of the highlights of Bim Sherman's enjoyable and entertaining performance.

Sugar Minott Tony Phillips Dalton Browne Starkey Banton Chukki Starr
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After a short break - with "Vinyl Star" Sound System spinning some fine tunes - it was time for London based Ruff Cutt Band to appear on stage. After a very enjoyable instrumental warmup round - featuring a wicked ska tune and some great classic Studio One riddims - one of the most promising young Jamaican deejays who are based in England, Anthony Williams aka Chukki Starr walked on stage. This militant deejay is widely regarded as the best the UK reggae scene has to offer these days, but some problems with the sound on stage at the beginning of his performance and his short set didn't help him to fully showcase his abilities. However, songs like "Praise The Creator" and "Sweet Meditation" were well anticipated by the crowd and showed a glimpse of Chukki Starr's fine skills and talent. Then, the equally talented Starkey Banton, who broke with the topical single "Versace" and consolidated his fame with the rootsy mini-album "Powers of Youth" and this year's full length album "Rasta Mystic". Starkey Banton lived up to expectations with his hard hitting delivery and powerful performance.

Next was reggae veteran Al Campbell, who started his career at Studio One in the late sixties, worked with Sly & Robbie, and nowadays still records for such hot producers as Xterminator's Phillip "Fatis" Burrell and Fat Eyes' "Bulby" York & "Fatta" Marshall. This soulful singer brought such well known and enjoyable tunes like "Lately", "Late Night Blues" and "Turn Me Loose" in a smooth, relaxed, accomplished style. After Al Campbell's last tune the Ruff Cutt Band left stage for an half hour lasting break.

Freddie McGregor Bim Sherman Barrington Levy Al Campbell Sugar Minott
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Then it was time for three topnotch reggae artists, who are widely known, loved and respected for their serious contribution to Jamaica's musical history.
Barrington Levy unmistakably proved that he remains one of reggae's most powerful and original voices. Although he couldn't continue his huge broad success from the eighties throughout the nineties Levy's stage performances are still impressive and very entertaining. He did an energetic set giving the people what they wanted : hit after hit from his heydays. This meant that we could enjoy such thrillers like "Here I Come", "Money Move", "Under Mi Sensi", "Too Experienced", "Prison Oval Rock", "Black Rose" and "Murderer". A memorable and truly wicked performance from this great Dancehall singer.

Sugar Minott was given the unenviable task of following Barrington Levy, but this reggae vet showed that he's still one of the best live performers around as he worked the crowd like an old hand. Sugar Minott entertained the crowd with many of his hits, thus more or less providing an overview of his almost three decades lasting musical career. All time reggae classics like "No Vacancy", "Oh Mr. DC", "Rough Ol' Life" and "Vanity" were delivered expertly and in fine form. During "Herbman Hustling" Sugar threw some herb in the audience, which led to a little fight in front of the stage. Although Sugar Minott's set was a relatively short one, it was stamped with class all over.

Also Freddie McGregor - accompanied by Dalton Browne on guitar and doing backing vocals - did a good job on stage, although the choice of tunes that featured his set was somewhat disputable, especially for those who wanted to hear the real original, classic Freddie McGregor songs. However, the singer's presence and voice are of such high quality standard that it is a joy to watch and hear him perform all kinda songs. Freddie's set featured tunes like "Africa Here I Come", "I Was Born A Winner", "Let Him Try", "Big Ship", "Push Come To Shove", "Bobby Bobylon" and "Key To The City". Furthermore he did a tribute to the "King Of Reggae" Bob Marley and "The Crownprince" Dennis Brown. With the Ruff Cutt Band as Freddie's backing band we were eagerly awaiting his killer tune "Give Jah The Glory", but for whatever reason this great song wasn't included. When Freddie McGregor and the Ruff Cutt Band had left stage German Sound System Pow Pow Movement took over the proceedings, but at that time many reggae lovers were already leaving the festival grounds. And so did we!

Writers: Teacher & Mr. T. ~ Photos: Teacher

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