Reggae on the River 2016: Blazing Di Fiyah Forward Ever

Welcome to Reggae!

Welcome to Reggae on the River!

Every summer, close to where the Humboldt and Mendocino county lines meet on US 101, a sacred musical destination attracts thousands of people from across the world that are in search of love, unity, and acceptance. At French’s Camp, Reggae on the River provides an alternate existence that separates us from life as we know it and shows us life how it could be. The Music… the Culture… the Vibes… the Love… the Experience… it’s all waiting for you at Reggae.

ROTR 2016

The Reggae Massive

Presented by the Mateel Community Center for 32 years strong and counting, the one and only Reggae on the River (known affectionally by many as Reggae) is the longest running Reggae Festival in the US and has since been one of the industry cornerstones for many reggae legends and new artists to reach.

And I was thinking… on the way in and on the way out… it really is an alternate universe within the bounds of French’s Camp. I always feel so welcome when I walk in those gates on Thursday morning… greeted by smiling faces of colleagues and festivalgoers I respect and admire… spending these moments together but once a year… building memories and a legacy that will last a lifetime. It’s something really special folks. Seen??? Now Pay Attention!!! This is the Official Review of Reggae on the River 2016 by yours truly… Rogue Agent Photo:

French's Camp

French’s Camp

Reggae on the River 2016 will go down in the history books as one of the greatest moments in reggae music of all time. From Will Call to South Beach all stops had been pulled out to make a solid lineup, an awesome crew, huge smiles, and irie vibes… and Thursday was PACKED!!!

Never have I seen as many people at Reggae on a Thursday as I did this year, and it makes complete sense. Year after year, building and building, and now it’s reached the level that Thursday has become known as the official first day of Reggae, not only the day to get in early and secure a kick ass camp spot, but also the day to show up early so you get to see some kick ass Reggae Music!

Protoje

Protoje

Speaking of Reggae Music, Protoje & The Indiggnation took the headlining spot Thursday night with strong support earlier in the day starting with 7th Generation Rise, Democratoz, Newen Afrobeat, Dubtonic Kru, Raphael, Lion D, Jah Sun, and New Kingston.

I was still getting my camp situation figured out and set up Thursday afternoon, but was able to roll to the bowl just in time to catch the vibes that Dubtonic Kru kicked out while Raphael and Lion D tore up the mic. From there, it went from completely awesome to totally amazing as Jah Sun performed a beautiful and heartwarming set, bringing out the youth, mashing it up, and even asking his lady for her hand in marriage!

New Kingston

New Kingston

Next up, New Kingston showed the masses exactly what a tight, energetic, and fierce live performance was all about. Over the years I have seen them perform many times and definitely Thursday night at Reggae 2016 has to be the best yet.

It’s hard these days to make a name for yourself in the reggae industry and even harder to stay relevant, but the artist chosen to headline the first night of Reggae this year has done a very good job at it and judging from his performance and the response on Protoje‘s latest album “Ancient Future” he will continue to do just that.

Dancehall

The Dancehall Massive

As I said earlier, Thursday at Reggae was PACKED and after the show ended in the bowl, the party carried on all over French’s Camp. My good friend Dub Cowboy was managing the DJ stage down at South Beach this year, so that’s where me and my crew settled in after the bowl closed every night: The Dancehall.

Dancehall Divas

Dancehall Divas

 

And it was freaking insane!! I’m telling you hands down for real: Biggest & Best Dancehall EVER this year at Reggae on the River!!! The stage was huge, the sound system was enormous, and people were so pumped, dancing like it was our last moments on earth together with our best friends. Selectors were selecting, guest artists were stepping up to the mic, energy levels and vibes protruding to the ultimate max deep into the morning…. my goodness what a killer time! If you were there you know what I’m talking about: VIBES!!!

Hot Showers Anyone?

Hot Showers Anyone?

Mornings at Reggae are rough for me. It’s tough waking up, piecing yourself back together, and doing it all again for several days straight, especially when you’re working like a Rogue Agent at the festival. But when you think about it, life changing adventures have never been for the weak at heart and I don’t believe you could trade this experience for anything in the universe that would give you as much wisdom, guidance, and hope moving forward in such a troubled world. And that’s why we do it again, the next day, the next year, the next decade. Together we move forward ever, backward never.

Democratoz

Democratoz

On Friday, I saw Democratoz perform a playful and danceable set, really bringing people out to shake their booties. Gappy Ranks blessed us up with 7th Street Band and a set that got the place bumping and moving, and then: Jah9 stole the show with FIYAH!!!

Jah9

Jah9

Jah9 & the Dub Treatment‘s performance was more than a treat, it was a lesson. A lesson in heart, a lesson in respect, and a lesson in equality. A lesson that should not soon be forgotten and needs to be passed on to everyone you meet in order for things to change in our world for the better. Give thanks Jah9. I n I fully apprecialove what you’re throwing down mi Sista!!! BOOM!

The rest of Friday night at ROTR 2016 rolled on with the Soul Syndicate Showcase featuring Earl Zero, Marty Dread, Randy Valentine, U-Roy, Big Youth, and of course Soul Syndicate with Tony Chin and Vince Black on guitars, Fully Fullwood on bass, and Karl Wright on drums.

Big Youth

Big Youth

This segment of Friday night’s lineup was very exciting and a lot of fun to watch. Each performer brought something of their own to the stage and covered Soul Syndicate‘s solid roots riddims and guitar licks with silky smooth vocals, upful lyrics, and positive vibes. My favorite of the showcase of course was Big Youth. He reminded me of a circus clown that got cut loose from a dancehall sanitarium… but in a good way! That smile, that voice, those moves!! It was Reggae magic unfolding before my very eyes and I feel very lucky to have been there.

Kranium headlined Friday night and it was a lot of fun watching him pump up the vibes. Part way through his show, he asked some girls to come up on stage to dance for him and the rest of the massive. They flipped it, they flopped it. They dipped it, they dropped it. Definitely made the crowd go wild!

Kranium

Kranium

Once the bowl closes for the night, there’s another after hours zone you can check out if you’re not into the dancehall thing at South Beach. It’s mellower and a little more on the electronic side of things. I don’t know the official name for it, but it’s down in the area called Center Beach, down this rocky, sandy slope that opens up to a little clearing on the river. Never worry about finding stuff to do after the bowl closes at Reggae. The party goes 24 hours a day at French’s Camp!!!

Saturday arrived before I knew it and I was excited for this day more than any other. Sizzla Kalonji & the Fire House Band was scheduled to headline tonight and I was going to be there for every single second… but first, I was going to fulljoy seeing many other crucial acts earlier on: Locos Por Juana, No-Maddz, House of Shem, Fatoumata Diawara, Ziggi Recado, and King Yellowman.

No-Maddz

No-Maddz

Charged it down to the bowl from camp and Locos Por Juana was on stage firing up the crowd, making everyone dance and scream. Then came No-Maddz with their high energy antics and upbeat musical feast. One of my favorite things is watching acts I’ve never seen work the audience so well and noticing at the same time how many people actually know the words to the songs. It’s an amazing feeling to see the love and unity glow between the crowd and the artists. AMAZING!

Fatoumata Diawara

Fatoumata Diawara

House of Shem was a blast to watch and belted out some solid songs that I really liked. After they finished, Fatoumata Diawara and her band really took me to the upper levels during their show. Her voice sounds so beautiful, her music so full of conscious heart, her mind so full of love, it was like I melted into a euphoric awe as I watched her perform! You can see how happy she is to be doing what she’s doing, to be spreading this feeling to so many people around the world.

Got Merch?

Got Merch?

Ziggi Recado put on a great show that had me singing right along and jumping around here and there, but after Fatoumata I was super hungry and wanted to cruise the bowl, grab some grub, and support the people who have supported me right back ever since I started Rogue Agent Photo over 10 years ago: Mystic Lion, Kingman, Pure Anywear, Satori Movement, and of course the MCC Reggae on the River merch booth! Each of these groups of livicated individuals has supported the efforts and reach of Rogue Agent Photo for many years and continue to do so today. I am very thankful for each one of them and look forward to working together for many years to come.

King Yellowman & Daughter

King Yellowman & Daughter

King Yellowman murdered the stage! And I mean murdered it!! I’ve never caught his act and am so glad the MCC decided to book him this year so I could witness the man that made so many crucial chunes. Back and forth, back and forth, it was like a fitness video watching him run around the stage, but when he brought his daughter out, that was the icing on the cake. Beautiful girl with a proud father. Teaching her how to stay strong in the face of challenge, Yellowman‘s positivity is inspiring! Big up!!

And then it was time for Sizzla. That’s right. I said SIZZLA!!! Lawdamercy was I excited. It had been about 10 years since I had seen him perform and was expecting to be limited on photo pit time as past years headliners have done at Reggae. But it didn’t happen. Sizzla didn’t have us pulled out after 3 songs. Sizzla didn’t say we couldn’t use flash. Instead, Sizzla let the entire media crew stay in the pit as long as they wanted! I couldn’t freakin’ believe it…

Sizzla Kalonji

Sizzla Kalonji

It wasn’t just that though, it was this: I have seen almost every touring reggae artist perform live since I began shooting as Rogue Agent Photo over 10 years ago and I must say that Sizzla Kalonji gave the absolute best performance at Reggae on the River 2016 that I have ever seen! Song selection was toppa top, with pull ups running rampant, and the crowd singing back most of the lyrics. His vocals soared beautifully, hitting those raspy highs and bellowing lows we love so much in his works. His energy was contagious, as was his charismatic poise and smile. Sizzla‘s show was more than anything I could have hoped for and I feel more than fortunate to have been there to witness his first performance in the US in over 8 years!! Rogue Agent seh it again and again and again: BOOM!!!

Life in the Bowl

Life in the Bowl

As Sunday creeped up, time slowed down, and I tried to soak up as much of the vibes as I could before I had to head out of this beautiful alternate reality the next day. I wandered around French’s Camp, taking in the sights, trying to plan the last minutes that would lead up to the final moments when one of my favorite reggae artists would yell a Yagga Yagga Yo…

Addis Pablo

Addis Pablo

 

I’ve been a fan of melodica dub master Augustus Pablo ever since I was a kid, so I made sure to catch the vibes Addis Pablo laid down in the bowl on Sunday. Some things just bring you back to your roots so much more than others, you know? I caught a bit of Mr. Williamz, and a bunch of Sister Carol that I loved every minute of.

Jesse Royal

Jesse Royal

Jesse Royal is a name that’s been popping up on my new artist radar for quite some time now, so when I heard he was performing at Reggae this year I knew I couldn’t miss his act… and I’m so glad I didn’t! You know when you see those performers that just have it? The ones that give you their all, the ones that deliver you their heart, the ones that want to make it to that higher level? Jesse Royal one a dem. Seen?? Gwan be HUGE going forward. Just wait n see. Rogue Agent tell di truth!!!

Mbongwana Star

Mbongwana Star

Mbongwana Star was up next with lots of upful vibes and danceable african beats. People were cutting loose to the enticing sound and rocking riddims, flooding the bowl with moving bodies and smiling faces. As I cruised around the bowl for my last time, I savored the sights, smells, and sounds that I would hear once again in a year’s time. Anthony B was headlining the last night at Reggae 2016 and it was going to be one of the best times ever… again!

Anthony B

Anthony B

Then it was time. Anthony B took the stage, Yagga Yagga Yo’s were proclaimed, we all raided the barn, and everybody had a good life. I’ve seen Anthony B live many, many times, and every time I see him I love him more. A decade ago I watched Anthony B perform for the first time and it made me realize there was so much more to reggae music than people knew. So I decided I wanted to share it with the world so people would know. That’s when Rogue Agent Photo was born. And it’s still my mission right up to this very day: Spreading Awareness to the Masses in the Form of Emotional Imagery.

ROTR 2016

ROTR 2016

Be sure to visit the Official Reggae on the River Facebook Page to see all the epic images Rogue Agent Photo captured at ROTR 2016 –> HERE <– and keep up to date on what’s happening for next year… cuz you know it gwan be a good time! Seen?? BOOM!!!

Mateel Community Center General Manager Justin Crellin Getting a Congratulations Kiss

Mateel Community Center Crew

Thank you to my wife Anne for being a major part of and supporting Rogue Agent Photo all these years, I couldn’t do any of this without your love babe. Thank you to my co-agent Jason for being a part of my photo team and kicking ass covering the event with me. Thank you to Justin, Charity, and Julia at the Mateel Community Center and Reggae on the River for believing in me and encouraging my photographic efforts at Reggae and beyond. Thank you to Kaati and Anthony at Reggae Festival Guide for all the love they’ve given me and this industry over the years. Thank you to Trevor, Abel, and the rest of the Rogue Agent Camp Crew that continues to establish one of the best camp parties in the 4×4 zone at French’s Camp that ever existed. Thank you to all my fellow photographers and media people that make it a great time in the pit every year (you know who you are!)

And thank YOU my friend for taking the time to read this review about one of the greatest moments in reggae music history!!!

Life is too short not to be happy. Do things you love and share them with other people.

And smile… a LOT. It helps!

🙂

Lovin’ all y’all ~ See you next year!!!

Joe McLaren ~ Rogue Agent Photo

Happy Reggae! See You Next Year!!

Happy Reggae! See You Next Year!!

 

About Rogue Agent

Spreading awareness to the masses in the form of emotional imagery, our hope is for the viewer to feel the power of the moment that took our breath away.

That is why we do what we do…so YOU can FEEL it!!!

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One Response to Reggae on the River 2016: Blazing Di Fiyah Forward Ever

  1. MADI SIMMONS says:

    MUCH RESPECT AND THANK YOU///////////////

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