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Review: Reggae Rise Up 2018

March 30, 2018


Reggae Rise Up Florida returned to Vinoy Park in St. Petersburg, Florida on March 16, 17, & 18 for 3 full days of positive vibes with a jam packed line-up split on two stages overlooking beautiful Tampa Bay. Now in its 4th year, Reggae Rise Up graduated from a one day festival to span a three day weekend headlined by some of the biggest names in Reggae music like Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley, SOJA, The Expendables, and Rebelution. Check out some of my favorite highlights from this year’s festival.


 Sailor Jane Photo Credit: Claire Sevigny


10. Bringing her powerhouse vocals to the stage to open up the festival on Sunday, local Floridian, Sailor Jane, inspired an acroyoga display during her set.


9. The crowd tightened up for Damian "Jr. Gong" Marley’s set to close out day two. With his usual energy, Damian jumped around on stage and opened with “Here We Go”. While singing “Beautiful,” he held out his floor length locks during the line “she shampoos my locks” and cracked me up. I wonder how much shampoo that takes?? The real hero of Damian Marley’s set, though, was his flagman. He waved the green, yellow, and red Pan-African flag during the entire hour-and-a-half long set without rest. That man has serious upper body strength and endurance.


8. Marijuana positivity was in the air, literally. From Damian Marley cheering on Florida for legalizing Medical Marijuana and singing “Medication” to Kash’d Out singing their songs about the substance, plus the presence of Regulate Florida for Marijuana Legalization lining up people to sign petitions. It’s so nice to see this issue gaining traction and what better place to find a receptive audience than Reggae Rise Up?


7. J Boog exhibited his soulful voice and full band complete with horn section and back-up singers. He always brings a big sound to the stage, but my favorite moment from his set was the transition from his own original song “Good Cry” into the Toots & Maytals iconic single "54-46 (That's My Number)". This smooth transition from newly minted Reggae to original roots music cements the tradition of Reggae as a timeless movement.

Mike Love Photo Credit: Claire Sevigny


6. Mike Love brought his booming guitar solos to the Vibe Stage for the last show of their tour and they ended it on a high note (pun intended). Their jam-band infused style of Reggae with super funky basslines, thumping bass drums, and acapella harmonies got everybody jumping.



5. Kash’d Out killed it when they transitioned seamlessly from their song “Yes I” into Sublime’s “Garden Grove” to end their set at the Vibe Stage.


Nahko & Medicine for the People Photo Credit: Omayra Lopez


4. Talking backstage after the Nahko & Medicine for the People set with horn player Max Ribner and violinist Tim Snider who really embodied the spirit and message of their music by gifting me with CDs of their solo work. Everyone in Medicine for the People is so down to earth and approachable.



 New Kingston Photo Credit: Omayra Lopez

3. New Kingston launched “Come From Afar” and keyboardist Tahir Panton expressed absolute joy as the crowd unanimously sang the refrain of the song back at him. After their set, I got to chat with them backstage. What a charming family! Look for the interview coming soon.


RDGLDGRN Photo Credit: Claire Sevigny


2. RDGLDGRN brough their patented energy to the Reggae Rise Up stage. Playing their Eastside vs. Westside game where they divide the audience into 2 groups and then pit them against each other while playing covers of Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac covers to get the audience riled up before launching into “Million Fans” GRN stepped into the fray getting right in the middle of the crowd. Nothing levels up the energy of a crowd like quite like that. GLD spoke up after the song and addressed the crowd saying “ we love coming to these Reggae festivals because you are some of the sweetest people”



1. Apparently, Nahko was taking notes during RDGLDGRN’s set, because he too got in the crowd during his performance with his band Medicine for the People. He started the set off solo with just an acoustic guitar, but soon transitioned to the keys when the rest of the band came on stage. Nahko got in the crowd for “Love Letters to God” and stayed there for the entire song. During “Aloha” all the guitarists, including Nahko, and the bassist laid down on stage and proceeded to jam out prone on the stage.


Nahko & Medicine for the People Photo Credit: Omayra Lopez


Pictures provided by Omayra Lopez

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