The small town of Pauillac in southwest France is known more for red wine than for music, but from August 5 to 7 the region’s vineyards will rock to the sounds of Reggae Sun Ska, one of Europe's biggest reggae festivals.
The annual event in the heart of the Bordeaux region features musicians from Jamaica and other countries, and the organizers say they expect more than 50,000 spectators to turn up this year for the 14th anniversary.
Reggae veterans such as Big Youth, Toots and the Maytals, the Heptones and Linton Kwesi Johnson will share the stage with younger artists including the German singer Patrice, Jamaican diva Etana, and rising star Romain Virgo, winner of a major music competition in Kingston.
Stephen and Ky-Mani Marley, two of Bob Marley’s sons, and Andrew Tosh (son of Peter) will also be on hand - not only to remind fans of the heyday of reggae and the trail-blazing music their fathers created, but to present their own compositions as well.
Other scheduled performers hail from New Zealand (Katchafire and Ladi6), Guinea (Takana Zion), Guadeloupe (the energetic Admiral T) and Australia (Mista Savona).
Mainland France, which has numerous reggae groups, will be represented by artists such as Dub Inc., Wicked System, and Raggasonic Sound System, according to Sun Ska’s organizers.
Festival spokesperson Sophie Cadrouilh says the event aims to generate lots of “positive vibrations”, which may well be enhanced by some of the local wines. But the festival will also be environmentally friendly, with the use of bio-degradable cups and plates, and a solar generator providing some of the electricity.
The organizers have urged spectators to use public transportation or to team up with others when traveling by car. They’ve also made space available for free camping during the festival. See http://www.reggaesunska.com/ for more details. - A.M.