Reviews Reggae Sumfest
Ragged or king's music. The etymology of the word reggae is still unclear, but it is easily associated to one or more certain interpretations.
Reggae music is inspired by Rastafarian religion; the lyrics often praise God, Jah, and the main themes are life, love, hardships and joys of the black people, thus becoming a socio-cultural movement, receiving new influences from ska and soul, but also pop, jazz and R&B.
We are in the Mecca of reggae, Montego Bay, where every year, its off-beat, hypnotising and relaxing rhythm fills the air, day and night, during the most popular and world-known reggae festivals the Sumfest.
The sun still hasn't set beyond the horizon, the cool sea breeze will be a great help when the Sumfest opening party will begin and we'll start dancing to the punctuated by the bass, on the beach of Montego Bay, or Mo’Bay as they call it here, until dawn.
At the cry of Jah rastafari, the first notes invade the golden beach where thousands of attendees, between tourists and Jamaicans, occupy every single inch of it. The atmosphere is immediately hot and we let our bodies flow with the notes from the guitar, bass and percussions, while we all sing the lyrics, which are often social and complex and reach out to us thanks to the reggae's pleasant and communicative rhythm.
We get to know other Jamaicans and tourists from Europe like us; we are all looking forward to dawn, when all the festival attendees will be taken to Catherine Hall where the music will continue to play for 4 consecutive nights.
At the Catherine Hall, just outside Montego Bay, we'll find the best Reggae, R&B and Hip Hop of the moment, with the greatest artists performing live in front of 30,000 people, spreading their vibrant energy in the homeland of reggae. A great tribute to the kings of reggae, Bob Marley and Peter Tosh, who in the 70's and 80's helped spreading this genre that was also a social movement and ambassador of the Rastafarian religion in the world. We can almost feel the Natural mystic blowing into the air, sung by Bob Marley and the Wailers, in the air and we imagine that communion with Jah, which results in the brotherhood of beings and lands of the world, positive energy, love and redemption from suffering.
During the Sumfest days, it's also redemption for Montego Bay, which becomes much more than just the typical Jamaican tourist resort. Visitors can actually feel the genuine atmosphere of the movement's origins back in the 40's, when the island claimed its independence from the British rule, and the Jamaicans found out that the fight for social liberation had only just begun.
Reggae originated from the songs of African slaves and from Ska rhythms, although slower, to sensitise black people on themes like liberation and return to Mother Africa, where to live in peace and harmony according to Jah's law.
By the end of the 70's, Dancehall music had introduced quicker beats to roots reggae and raggamuffin, Borrowing Hip Hop's rapping style and electronic elements. Dancehall reggae enlivens the Catherine Hall throughout the third day of the Sumfest, and, once again, we get carried away in this magical atmosphere, enjoying every minute of the festival.
We are sure that we still have plenty of energy for the last day of the Sumfest and for visiting the wonderful Doctor’s Cave Beach and Cornwell Beach, two pearls of the Northern part of the island, which can be accessed by paying a small fee to the hotels that own them. We have already realised that it's easier to recuperate your energies here in Jamaica than anywhere else. And the enthusiasm with which we set off to visit this land on the trail of reggae music will certainly keep them alive until the end of this journey.