Whether dub or dancehall, reggae might just be the perfect music for August’s hot, sunny, chilled-out days. So it’s no surprise that the Montreal International Reggae Festival celebrates its 10th anniversary, August 16-18 outdoors in the Old Port of Montreal, with live music from Shaggy, Beenie Man, Morgan Heritage and many more, as well as activities for kids, a marketplace and delicious Caribbean food…
The Montreal International Reggae Festival may bring in reggae’s biggest stars, but its island vibe is still uniquely Montreal, reflecting the city’s vibrant French and English speaking Caribbean communities and welcoming reggae fans from near and far to unite under the festival’s long-time theme of promoting peace, globally and locally.
The good times start on Friday night with Jamaica’s energetic and empowering Morgan Heritage, still known as the “Royal Family of Reggae” after 20 years of making music together — the band returns to Montreal on August 16 with a new album, Here Come the Kings. Co-headlining is soulful French Guianan musician Chris Combette, who plays his mix of bossa nova, reggae and calypso, Montreal roots-reggae band Inword, as well as local favourites Riddim Wise, Jamaican singer-songwriter Brian Art and prolific dancehall producer Hawkeye.
The crowds gather on Saturday for Grammy-award-winning Jamaican-American artist Shaggy, one of the biggest personalities in reggae since the mid-90s, constantly proving his boombastic dancehall and lyrical talents on new albums and in his live shows. Equally as well-known and energetic, Beenie Man shows he’s still going dancehall-strong after years of crafting award-winning hits and collaborating with Wyclef Jean, Janet Jackson and Arturo Sandoval, among others. More dancehall makes Saturday a day to get loose with Trinidad and Tobago-based Kes The Band, impressive lyricist and long-time hitmaker of roots and dancehall Mr. Vegas, Jamaican singer and producer Tifa (who was featured on Ludacris’ How Low remix) and, back for a third year in the row to play hit after hit is the ever-popular Sustane.
A trio of reggae legends make Sunday’s International Night a memorable affair. Essentials on the reggae scene for more than 40 years, dancehall superstar and reggae-rap artist Yellowman, easy-going anthem-maker Cocoa Tea and none other than Grammy winner and Big Ship label owner Freddie McGregor are all in Montreal on the same day to play classics and new material. Joining them are Luciano, known for infusing his lyrics with political messages and rastafarian spirituality, R&B-influenced singer-songwriter Alaine, Jamaican star and romantic-lyric pro Serani, and Canadian nu-roots reggae king Jah Cutta.
On top of three days and nights of live music, an official after party on Saturday night keeps fans dancing the night away, while during the day, the festival also hosts workshops and film screenings on reggae’s history, including journalist and director Hélène Lee’s film Le premier rasta, based on the life of Leonard Percival Howell, and a presentation about Bob Marley by musicologist Roger Steffans.
Montreal International Reggae Festival, August 16-18, 2013