Reggae Geel 2015: 5 stages; 9 current top-a-top artists; 9 upcomers; 9 veterans; 40 sounds; surprise performances (think Barrington Levy with Spragga Benz, Agent Sasco with Protoje, Super Cat with Josey Wales and Brigadier Jerry, and David 'Ram Jam' Rodigan joined on stage by Super Cat and Protoje); main stage host and Jamaican radio personality Ron Muschette doing his Mellow FM show live & direct; a variety of workshops; a 'reggae' market that seems to commercialize 'rasta' too much, nuff drinks and food stands that offer hamburgers, kebab, French fries, but also African, Tibetan and Jamaican food; packed parking lots and camping sites; 69.000 visitors over the two days, weather circumstances fairly nice, but for Jamaicans far too cold... It's Reggae Geel madness!
  • Audience
    Audience
  • Pressure Busspipe
    Pressure Busspipe
  • Christopher Martin
    Christopher Martin
  • Rupelsoldaten
    Rupelsoldaten
  • Andy Mittoo
    Andy Mittoo
  • Silly Walks
    Silly Walks
  • Barrington Levy
    Barrington Levy
  • Christopher Martin
    Christopher Martin
  • Band Tydal
    Band Tydal
  • Audience
    Audience
  • Supercat
    Supercat
  • Bottle of Moonshine
    Bottle of Moonshine
  • Twinkle Brothers
    Twinkle Brothers
  • Etana
    Etana
  • Brigadier Jerry
    Brigadier Jerry

Last year headliners for Friday and Saturday were Beenie Man and Damian 'Jr Gong' Marley respectively. With Shaggy and Super Cat as this year's headliners, the festival organisation aimed at a broader audience, yardcore reggae aficionados as well as pop reggae fans. On Friday the latter were served well by Shaggy & guests with hit songs like "Angel" feat. Rayvon, "It Wasn't Me" and "Oh Carolina", but it was also clear that it wasn't the real reggae fan's cup of tea as a notable amount of people left the main stage area after Shaggy had done his first couple of songs. From our point of view one of the most disappointing headliners in the history of Reggae Geel.

Despite having scored only one real big hit in Jamaica ("Boops" 1985), Super Cat is regarded a key figure in the history of reggae music. Around 1990 Super Cat succeeded in something that Bob Marley had never been granted: a breakthrough on the American market. Super Cat became the Don Dada of the sparkling cross pollination of dancehall and hiphop. Few Jamaicans have built as impressive a career in the US as Super Cat. For the first time in Europe after he scored his greatest hit in Jamaica (according to the Reggae Geel organisation), it's obvious he would be a true crowd puller. An excited crowd welcomed the Don Dada aka Wild Apache on stage. At the beginning of his show he wasn't kicking up a rumpus, but all in all he delivered a solid set, performing songs like "Jamaica, Jamaica", "Come Down", "Mud Up", "Vineyard Style", "Sweets For My Sweet", "Dolly My Baby" and, of course, "Boops".
  • Supercat
    Supercat
  • Audience
    Audience
  • We The People Band
    We The People Band
  • Chuck Fenda
    Chuck Fenda
  • Exile di Brave
    Exile di Brave
  • Nesbeth
    Nesbeth
  • Assassin
    Assassin
  • Andy Mittoo
    Andy Mittoo
  • Audience
    Audience
  • Josey Wales
    Josey Wales
  • Nicodrum & Friends
    Nicodrum & Friends
  • Brigadier Jerry
    Brigadier Jerry
  • Christopher Martin
    Christopher Martin
  • Rupelsoldaten
    Rupelsoldaten
  • Tydal
    Tydal

Musically the festival took off on Friday with the Uprising Roots, one of Jamaica's new self-contained roots band consisting of veteran Winston 'Boopee' Bowen (guitar), Ruel 'Pot A Rice' Ashburn (bass), Rashaun "Black Kush" McAnuff (drums), Joseph 'Jr. Congo' Sutherland (percussion) Lloyd 'Hakinsanya' Palmer (keyboards) and background singers Nio Sulann Smith and Kimmy Gold. Drummer Black Kush is the band's lead singer, while keyboarder Hakinsanya is the dub poet, seemingly an odd combination, but it worked well. From their debut album "Skyfiya" they presented "Brightest Light", "Marcus Garvey", "Krash Like Lightning" and "Blessings", and furthermore "Trenchtown" from their forthcoming album "Black To I Roots". Next up was young promising reggae singer Tydal, who despite a soar throat made a decent impression with songs like "Somewhere In Africa", "Silent Warrior" and his current hit "Babylon Can't Get Away" on the "On The Corner" riddim. After Tydal's short set it was time for Christopher Martin to enter the stage, much to the delight of the ladies in front of the stage. He did an energetic performance treating the crowd to well known songs such as "Friend Dem", "Cheaters Prayer", "Let Her Go", "Hide Away", "Love Me Later", "Vibe Is Right", "Reggae Road Block", and "Mama". Truly a rising star!

Next came Barrington Levy (for the second time at Reggae Geel, although he said: "my first time here"), who instantly was greeted with great approval by the audience. Vocally the 'Mellow Canary' proved that he's still in good shape, but with a backing band that didn't convince at all and half-sung tunes without backing in order to promote his new album "AcousticaLevy", it all in all was a disappointing performance. After Barrington Levy it was time for Spragga Benz and Assassin aka Agent Sasco to bring some mad dancehall vibes, but there's so much more at Reggae Geel that we decided to check a few other stages. And thus we were just in time to catch Nicodrum & Friends at the Yard, whose music - rooted in traditional music - made a refreshing and good impression. They also formed the perfect backing for dub poet Ras Malekot, who impressed with his lyrical delivery. In the Skaville Steve Rice was spinning oldies on Paul Axis aka Dr. Huxtable's unique Valv-A-Tron Sound System, for which he followed the example of the great Jamaican sound men of the 50s and 60s. An awesome experience to hear the beautiful and authentic sound leaping off the speakers.
  • Nicodrum & Friends
    Nicodrum & Friends
  • Audience
    Audience
  • Lloyd Parks
    Lloyd Parks
  • Pressure Busspipe
    Pressure Busspipe
  • Food
    Food
  • Christopher Martin
    Christopher Martin
  • Jah David
    Jah David
  • Exile di Brave
    Exile di Brave
  • Nesbeth
    Nesbeth
  • Etana
    Etana
  • Audience
    Audience
  • Silly Walks & Clay
    Silly Walks & Clay
  • Twinkle Brothers
    Twinkle Brothers
  • Steel Band
    Steel Band
  • Chuck Fenda
    Chuck Fenda

On Saturday things got started by Prezident Brown, who then was followed by fine singers with golden voices; Christopher Ellis, Lukie D and Bitty McLean. However the first artist for us to see on the main stage was Pressure Busspipe. This roots artist from St Thomas, US Virgin Islands, backed by a tight playing Zion I Kings Band led by Tippy I, made a solid impression and performed songs such as "Love And Affection", "The Rain", "Show Love", "Nuh Worry Yourself" and "More Justice" on Culture's "Jah See Dem A Come" riddim. 'Di living fiyah' Chuck Fenda, also backed by the Zion I Kings Band, brought a show full of energy and got the crowd singing along with "Gwaan Plant" on John Holt's "Police In Helicopter" riddim, got them excited with "All About De Weed" on the "Truths & Rights" riddim, and even got them in a frenzy with his big hit "Gash Dem". Songstress Etana aka The Strong One opened her set with the beautiful sung "Selassie Is The Chapel", but having seen her perform at a previous edition of Reggae Geel we decided to head to the Yard.

After having seen Belgium's cult group Rupelsoldaten mashing up the Yard, it was time to check Exile Di Brave. Good to see this up-and-coming artist doing a good job. Backed by selector Irie Nation, who played the riddims, he treated the audience to songs like "If This Is Love", "Hungry", "Rasta Party" and "These Are The Days". From the Yard we went to the packed Skaville, where Belgium's Bottle Of Moonshine - fronted by the eye-catching lead vocalist Hanne Peetermans - gave a steaming show. They were followed by the versatile Andy Mittoo who, backed by his expertly playing band, showed that he's a real good singer.

Back to the main stage again where the Twinkle Brothers (i.e. Norman Grant) showed that after all these years in reggae business they are still worth hearing. Songs like "Since I Threw The Comb Away", "Jah Kingdom Come", "Babylon Falling", "Never Get Burn", "Don't Want To Be Lonely", "Praise Jah", and "Repent" are roots classics that have stood the test of time. Without doubt one of the highlights of this Reggae Geel edition. Next up were Josey Wales and Brigadier Jerry backed by Lloyd Parks & We The People band. A real pity Charlie Chaplin had cancelled, otherwise we would have had the Colonel, the General and the Principal on stage. Both Josey Wales and Brigadier Jerry are so experienced that they know how to keep the crowd involved. In particular Brigadier Jerry surpassed expectations, which made it a joy to listen to him perform songs like "Armagideon Judgement", "Bangarang", "Is Your Soul Blessed", "Jah Is My Everything", and "Jamaica, Jamaica".
  • Etana
    Etana
  • Audience
    Audience
  • Bottle of Moonshine
    Bottle of Moonshine
  • Jah Criss aka Dubmaster
    Jah Criss aka Dubmaster
  • Josey Wales
    Josey Wales
  • Clay
    Clay
  • Food
    Food
  • Ras Makelot
    Ras Malekot
  • Brigadier Jerry
    Brigadier Jerry
  • Rupelsoldaten
    Rupelsoldaten
  • Barrington Levy
    Barrington Levy
  • Assassin
    Assassin
  • Andy Mittoo
    Andy Mittoo
  • Valv-A-Tron Sound System
    Valv-A-Tron Sound System
  • We The People Band
    We The People Band

Pretty sure Reggae Geel will again draw all ages, races, and nationalities, men, women, kids to its festival grounds to celebrate the 38th edition of Europe's oldest reggae festival in 2016..



Text : Mr. T   Photos: Teacher & Da Dreamer