It’s odd when peace finds you. Sometimes you’re on a beach. Taking a hike. On a trip to an island. It’s like for that moment, you truly see. Coming from Jamaica, I can personally say it’s not always easy to see; see that you are a part of something bigger in this world. Something that reaches across the aisle, across generations, across cultures.
One man did this. Think about that for a second. One man and his friends. From one of the worst garrisons in all of Jamaica. Filled with poverty, violence … lost hope. Yet, in all of this, one man created a weapon. Not one fashioned by years of violence. Not one fashioned by privilege. But a weapon fashioned from influences of R&B and calypso.
This creation, this weapon, it has touched the very core of what we feel in those moments of peace. It is why people attend festivals like Reggae on the Mountain. We patrons may not be conscious of this when we buy our tickets, or when we pack the car, or even when we get to the mountain. Yet, we celebrate this man, his creation, his dream, his weapon. The dream that music would bring together people from all walks of life to experience that one thing that seems so hard to attain. Peace.
What we saw at this year’s annual reggae music festival is a true reminder of what brings all reggae lovers together. Good vibes. People who love reggae are good people, and at Reggae on the Mountain 2015, we really felt the positivity going around.
Reggae on the Mountain has steadily made a name for itself as LA’s number one, homegrown reggae festival. Founded in 2009, the festival has steadily grown in popularity. That’s a play on words, homegrown, because it is truly a gathering of people who enjoy natural products, food and music. Speaking of natural food, one of the stand out features of Reggae on the Mountain is the diverse and delicious food options. All for the healthy, hearty eater. From authentic Jamaican to vegan Thai, the food options provided a welcomed refuel from the hot sun.
Yet, the music was the main attraction, and it created a wonderful feeling of camraderie amongst the festival goers. We stopped to chat with several festival goers and we asked what brought them on the mountain. “I grew up in Malibu (as) my father was the general manager for the Santa Monica pier,” Jason said. “I saw the signs for it as I was driving by and it looked cool; I thought I’d check it out. I love reggae music, my brother loves reggae music and so does my roommate.” Reggae music mixed with this beautiful setting drew people in; whether it was their first time, or they were a veteran on the mountain, they all helped to create the weekend’s wonderful vibes.
Between sets the valley was bumping with solid selects by Jamaican Gold Sound DJ Qbwoy and DJ Crooks.
One of KingstontoLA’s longtime favorites, Easy Star All Stars closed out the first evening with their musical versatility and diverse instruments. The crowd and the band exchanged energy that set the tone for day two.
Day two at Reggae on the Mountain; the sun was shining and the weather was sweet. This being KingstontoLA’s first trip up the mountain, on day two, we were better prepared bringing snacks, agua, chairs and a tube of sun block. Vendors selling umbrellas, made of rice paper, came in real handy as well.
On a hot summer day, sometimes only a beer can quench your thirst. Thank Jah for the Sierra Nevada tent and their wide selection of beer and sangria.
One thing we learned about Alborosie is that he has a fun, vibrant personality. Hailing from Kingston Jamaica, the singer has a true kinship with his reggae kinfolk. Originally from Italy and now residing in Kingston, he explained to us “good ganja people” that he traveled from Mexico the night before. As his worldwide energy permeated the crowd, he thanked us several times saying “lovely, lovely, lovely,” acknowledging the beautiful exchange of vibes. He sang his hits like “Herbalist” and “Jah Jah Crown.” We felt much love for Alborosie and his uplifting message of equal rights and justice, which was a constant theme throughout the set.
Ky-Mani Marley closed out day two as the sun began to set in the Topanga valley. As the air got cooler, Marley’s set was a complementary background as the soothing vibes abound. We were excited to hear him perform live after becoming such big fans of his latest album, Maestro. The singer carries on the true essence and message of what his father made famous many decades ago. A softer side of Marley appeared during the set, as he expressed falling victim to love woes. Marley let the crowd know that he had come out on the other side, and was here to testify to the power of forgiveness. He urged the crowd to live a full life, with words of advice such as “make music we can dance to, make music we can laugh to.” As he blessed the crowd with a live version of his latest single “We Are” he carried home a message of truth that is oh so relevant in today’s times. “No government is ever gonna chage us. We gotta stand up for ourselves,” he said encouraging strength in us all, before finishing the lyrics of his song “we are the lords of war, yes we are, who we are.” Marley also blessed the crowd with some of his father’s hits, such as Three Little Birds and closing the weekend with Redemption Song.
Reggae on the Mountain is a true reminder of what brings all reggae lovers together; good vibes, healthy, soulful food. Brands and clothing that represent the lovely sounds coming form the speakers. The sun shining, creating the vibes and turning up the peaceful energy. What a weekend we had at Reggae on the Mountain 2015. Celebrating peace and redemption. We’re already looking forward to next year.
See our clip from Alborosie’s live performance of “Jah Jah Crown” on the mountain: