It was an Irie weekend at the “1st Annual Reggae in the Hills” festival last weekend at Calaveras County Fairgrounds/Angels Camp aka “Kindness Zone.” I was greeted at the gate by the friendliest people I have ever met, who were very knowledgeable about the venue’s locations. I was fortunate to find a great camping spot (about 40 feet from the 2nd stage and about 100 yards from the main stage). The weather was very hot, but the hillside provided comfortable shaded areas to sit and enjoy refreshments — with a nice view of the Tropical themed stages, LCD video, and “state-of-the-art” lighting — while enjoying the various fantastic artists that performed on two stages throughout the weekend. The dynamic line up consisted of:
PATO BANTON AND THE NOW GENERATION
JOSH HEINRICHS & SKILLINJAH
MOUNTAIN LION SOUNDSYSTEM
DJ SELEKTA LOU
THE GREEN MACHINE
ARDEN PARK ROOTS
Friday night was filled with people who arrived to set up camp, and get familiar with the line up. Of course, there were a ton of great bands that performed on the stages, but the ones that caught my attention were:
Braata – A young band from the Stockton/Modesto area. They are a reggae/rock/ska band that started the show off with a bang! Even though it was early morning (around 10:30am) when they performed, you would think they were headlining the show! The crowd kept getting thicker and thicker as they played — they very much was a crowd favorite. This young band definitely knows how to rock-a-crowd. I must say, all the members of “Braata” are fun & energetic. However, the lead singer, Lil Sweet Amanda, surely stole my heart with her “spunky spirit” that is a full-of-energy type of personality.
[I spoke to "Kathy," the manager of Braata, and this is what she had to say about the promoters of the festival: "The Promoters of Reggae in the Hills are very organized, they promoted the shows with great effort. They were easy to work with one-on-one and very reachable when you needed them" Way to go Reggae in the Hills Promoters!!!]
Lil Chase (JRAS son) – On the smaller stage, Lil Chase (he’s about 11 yrs old), displayed a unique ability to rap with quick cadence while maintaining a smooth flow. At such a young age, he is a sensation. Wow! That kid really has talent!!!
Arden Park Roots (APR) - It was the first time I’ve seen them perform, but I have been hearing about this band all over Sacramento. They play a blend of reggae/rock/punk, and are a very cool band — they really rocked the stage. They are a band that’s definitely worth seeing, and I think you will enjoy them.
Alex Marley (backed by Arden Park Roots) - Oh what a sweet & kind soul is Alex . I spent some time with Alex, and he’s got this vibe about him that puts you at ease when you first meet him. His performance was astonishing with his guitar solos; and how exciting it was when he jumped off stage into the crowd, while continuing his solo without missing a strum — Alex Marley is definitely becoming a positive force in the world of reggae music.
Pato Banton and Yellowman
The last two entertainers of the night were simply amazing. Pato Banton lit up the stage with his fantastic light show, as well as his energetic moves. The veteran performer captured the audience — with his moving rhythms, pulsating beats, and positive lyrical story-telling – as they danced throughout the entire set. It became obvious to me why he has been a well-loved festival favorite throughout the years. His professionalism, style, and stage presence is something that up-comers should learn.
Yellowman – I’ve been a fan of his for a long time, and he is the performer that people say he is. This experienced reggae star help put Reggae/Dance Hall on the international map. His demanding stage presence is second-to-none, and he kept the audience dancing with his solid energetic performance, by working the stage with continuous movements, along with his commanding voice and lyrical flow. Once again, he demonstrated why he really is a true master and a legend in reggae music.
[I must add something about the Snowshoe Brewing Company: Each beer I tasted from them was absolutely delicious, and really grabs the taste buds. You can locate them at http://snowshoebrewing.com/ and you can order online. Shout out to JB: giving thanks for your wonderful hospitality, and looking forward to seeing you again.]
I would like to thank EVERYONE at Reggae in the Hills for their hard work and dedication in putting on a phenomenal festival. I truly enjoyed myself this past weekend, and will always remember my first time here. I look forward to the 2nd Annual Reggae in the Hills.