Reggae On The River
August 24, 2004

Label Heartbeat Europe
Format 2 DVD - Region Free
Languages English
Subtitles None
Length Approx. 165 minutes
Producer/Director People Productions.
One of America's best known and most respected annual music festivals, "Reggae On The River", celebrates its 20th Anniversary and the music with an excellent double dvd set as well as a companion CD (sold seperately) featuring live performances from many of the artists that performed at the 2003 event.

Set on the banks of Northern California's picturesque Eel River, the festival first began in 1984 as an ambitious fundraiser to help rebuild the local Mateel Community Center, which had been destroyed by an arsonist. It has since evolved into a three-day event that over the years has drawn more than 280,000 fans thus far, while continuing to benefit the center. Each summer dozens of great performers, representing all genres of reggae and world music, come to the small town 200 miles north of San Francisco to perform.

DVD 1 entitled "The Story" provides a good look at what this unique festival is all about. Set against the amazing backdrop of the river shores in the midst of an ancient redwood forest, "Reggae On The River" is a celebration of love, unity, community and... good music. Real nice to get a look behind the musical scenes with people that are involved in the organization, artists and musicians, vendors, and all the colourful people that have gathered to listen to their favourite music and to connect spiritually with old friends and make new ones.

"The Music" DVD gives a cross-section of the acts that took the ROTR stage in 2003 and makes you part of appealing performances by Culture, Toots & The Maytals, Israel Vibration, Anthony B, and Beres Hammond. Also worthwhile are Judy Mowatt and Marcia Griffiths who perform a poignant version of "Redemption Song", and Julian Marley's haunting rendition of his father's "Exodus". Reflecting the festival's musical diversity, the disc also features experimentalist David Lindley (with his band El Rayo-X), the unassuming Ben Harper, and Zimbabwe's Oliver Mtukudzi.

The filming is well done, the images are of very good quality and the same goes for the sound. A very nice feature is the 'user-selected multichannel view capability' which enables the viewer to switch between channel 1 (director's cut) and channel 2 (wide view of the entire stage).

Here's the content of this entertaining double dvd :

DVD 1 :

An in-depth documentary about the "Reggae On The River" experience with commentary by organizer Carol Bruno, Ras Records' founder Doctor Dread, Paul Bassis and artists Michael Franti, Judy Mowatt, Cecil "Wiss" Spence and more. It even includes snippets from activist Julia Butterfly Hill, who has been an important voice for Humboldt County environmentalism.

DVD 2 :
  1. Third World - 96 Degrees In The Shade
  2. Culture - International Herb
  3. Toots & The Maytals - 54-46 Was My Number
  4. Michael Franti & Spearhead - We Don't Stop
  5. Damian "Jr. Gong" Marley - Mr. Marley
  6. Machael Montano - All Pretty Girls / Animal Farm
  7. Oliver Mtukudzi - Hear Me Lord
  8. Israel Vibration - Vultures
  9. David Lindley & El Rayo-X - High Rollers
  10. Anthony B - Raid The Barn
  11. Israel Vibration - Same Song
  12. Beres Hammond - She Loves Me Now / Step Aside
  13. Judy Mowatt & Marcia Griffiths - Redemption Song
  14. Anthony B - Good Life
  15. Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals - With My Own Two Hands
  16. Stephen & Damian "Jr. Gong" Marley - It Was Written (Book of Life)
    BONUS :
  17. Julian Marley - Exodus
The dvd offers 5.1 surround mix concert and some extra's such as 15 tracks with user-selected multichannel view capability, artist photo gallery and bios, and a Reggae on the River poster collection.