Tag Archives: Swedish Reggae Festivals

Uppsala Reggae Festival ventures into a dance festival

Uppsala Reggae Festival is Northern Europe’s largest reggae festival and has been held since 2001. Each year the festival presents some of the world’s most famous reggae artists and legends – both Swedish and international acts – this year boasting Toots & The Maytals, Gyptian and Ken Boothe, among several others.

Last year – the festival’s tenth anniversary – was a kind of a best of the best festival. This year there is less of the more established artists and more of newcomers with acts representing dancehall, modern roots reggae and reggae fusion, and includes performers such as Elephant Man, Queen Ifrica, Mr.Vegas, Pressure and Protoje.

“What I’m most looking forward to is Toots & The Maytals, Ken Boothe and Johnny Clarke because they have such a tight sound and are always great live. I’m also looking forward to our venture into the dance scene with all the invited dancers and dancehall artists. I’m hoping for lots of energy and joy,” says Yared Tekeste, founder of Uppsala Reggae Festival, to Reggaemani.

The dance venture that Yared Tekeste is looking forward to is a new step for Uppsala Reggae Festival, and, according to the press release, a giant step into the new decade with a focus on street dance, dance performances and dance parties.

“There is a positive and innovative up-tempo energy within the international reggae scene that we also want to spread to Sweden. This year we have devoted ourselves to offering both a music festival and a dance festival to celebrate all the joy there is in both the more established and newer forms of reggae”, says Yared Tekeste.

Each year the festival attracts audiences of 15,000–20,000 people. The mission is to make reggae music accessible to more people and to be a melting pot for people to come together to experience love and a feeling of belonging.

“Whether you’re a reggae lover or not, we want to be a meeting spot for people that want to experience love and solidarity – oneness. This year’s festival is also special because the Life is Great theme gets a new expression through our new focus on dance. The audience will receive both classic and contemporary roots reggae, but also lots of energetic dancehall. The overall impression is awesome,” concludes Yared Tekeste.

This year Uppsala Reggae Festival takes place on 4-6 August.

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Musical wish list for Uppsala Reggae Festival

Uppsala Reggae Festival is the largest reggae festival in the Nordics and this year it’s a 10 year anniversary with some of the biggest artists of all time.

Legendary roots veterans such as the Abyssinians and Bunny Wailer perform along with fresh talents such as dancehall stars Mavado and Busy Signal. There are also plenty of domestic acts, for example Million Stylez, Kalle Baah and Serengeti.

The crew behind the festival has also invited three well-acclaimed sound systems – Meditative Sounds, Channel One Sound and Stone Love.

The festival starts on Thursday August 5th and ends on Saturday August 7th. Reggaemani will cover the festival on Friday and Saturday and will also cooperate with Svenska Reggaebloggen and Reggaefoto.se. Svenska Reggaebloggen is specialized in Swedish reggae and Reggaefoto is a site dedicated to reggae photography.

As a warm up, I’ve compiled ten of my favorite tunes for this year’s festival. It’s a mixture of old and new.

Mavado – Nine Lives
Abyssinians – Satta Massa Gana
Busy Signal – Beep
Million Stylez & Busy Signal – As Mi Forward
Peetah Morgan & Busy Signal – Unfair
Peetah Morgan – Di Government
Alborosie – Rudie Don’t Fear
Jah Cure – Save Yourself
Midnite – Pagan, Pay Gone
Anthony B – Heavy Load

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Photos from Öland Roots

I’ve uploaded some photos from Swedish Öland Roots Festival on Flickr. All in all 14 photos of Stereo Steppers, Jah Ark Manifest, Club Killers, Fantan Mojah, Konshens, Jah Mason and Chezidek.

Check’em out here.

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Fantan Mojah crowns himself King of Sweden

Fantan Mojah takes part in the younger generation of bobo dreads, a Rastafarian wing lead by artists such as Sizzla, Capleton and Anthony B. High-octane deejays that made a name for themselves with their angry vocal style and lyrics of godly living.

And this evening at Sweden’s Öland Roots Festival Fantan Mojah certainly represents. He has enough energy to power a small city and a confidence that touches on hubris.

He is supported by Austrian House of Riddim and, on some tunes, Zareb. He starts off with a chant to Jah and continues with well-known and less familiar songs, including Nah Build Great Man, the Jah Cure original King in This Jungle and King of Kings. And the royal theme returns later on in the concert when Fantan Mojah points to the festival’s two promoters and exclaims “I’m the fucking king, I’m the king of Sweden”.

But his confidence reaches beyond that. Fantan Mojah shouts, in a tribute to a number of legendary Jamaican artists, that he’s “the next fucking legend”. He also takes the opportunity to act reverend to bless and consecrate two loving couples on the stage, an act that gets mixed reactions. Some in the crowd seem embarrassed while others cheer as one of the couples passionately kiss.

Fantan Mojah’s long talks are at times parodic. He rants at length about equality, justice, contempt of politicians and hatred of paedophiles, and requests raised hands – or “lion paws” – from all those in the audience who agree with him. Needless to say, not many disagree that paedophiles belong behind bars. The crowd yields to the artist and raises hundreds of lion paws.

Fantan Mojah undoubtedly gives a massive performance and for the most part the audience is onboard. For example, he manages to keep hands clapping throughout Hail the King. A great achievement when we’re approaching the wee hours of the morning.

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Chezidek shines in the encores

The last day of Swedish Öland Roots Festival was darkened by lightning, thunder and heavy rain. But that didn’t stop the concerts and the audience could enjoy acts such as Chezidek, Zareb and Fantan Mojah.

Chezidek is first out and enters the stage at 9pm supported by Denmark’s Roots Harmonics Band.

He trots onto the stage dressed in a black wind jacket, sunglasses, a rasta scarf and blue jeans. There’s a meagre crowd in front of the stage, most likely due to the weather. But Chezidek does his best to boost the crowd and delivers tunes from most of his almost a decade-long career.

He performs a stripped-down version of his hit song Inna di Road and at the end of the Leave the Trees, does a brief imitation of the late Jacob Miller, which generates great applause.

Chezidek has a delicate voice that cracks easily, and doesn’t hit all the notes – particularly the highest ones – perfectly. But this evening he uses his whole voice range and succeeds surprisingly well.

The beginning of the show is a bit sleepy and dispassionate, but over the course of the concert Chezidek’s energy steadily increases, and by the end he skips and runs back and forth across the stage. Although he puts in a high gear for the two encores Bun di Ganja and Call Pon Dem, I have to say Chezidek’s performance was all in all too laid-back to ignite the Öland forest.

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Jah Ark Manifest are – after all – Kings of the Island

Last night at Öland Roots Festival Norwegian Jah Ark Manifest were crowned Kings of the Island in a soundclash between Sweden, Norway and Denmark. In addition to the title, Jah Ark Manifest won SEK 10.000 and a huge trophy. The tension rose during the battle, and afterward the judges’ questionable ruling broke out in a lengthy and heated argument.

The first night of Swedish Öland Roots Festival featured a massive soundclash between three Scandinavian sounds – Swedish Stereo Steppers, Norwegian Jah Ark Manifest and Danish Firehouse. Hosts and judges were DJ Shirkhan and Sammy K from Safari Sound.

The competition was divided into three sessions, only allowing dubplates. During the first session there were no eliminations, and the sounds had ten minutes each to flex their muscles.

For the second round the teams had 15 minutes each and one sound was to be eliminated. After an audience vote, it was clear that Stereo Steppers were out, even though they certainly got the crowd cheering with a dubplate from legendary Swedish reggae artist Peps Persson.

The sounds put on some tough dubplates with artists ranging from foundation fathers such as Johnny Osbourne and Leroy Sibbles to newer talents such as Natty King, Konshens and Fantan Mojah.

The final was a seven tune “dub fi dub” session. And it was a tough one. The score was 3-2 in favour of Firehouse and things were heating up a bit. The judges had a hard time reading the audience’s votes, but decided after some deliberation to name Jah Ark Manifest the winner. The Firehouse crew – and parts of the audience – questioned the ruling.

According to judge DJ Shirkhan a two hour argument followed on the question of the rightful winner. He admits that it was an unfair draw, but that it was fair win. Reggaemani congratulates Norway on the win (although I personally voted for Firehouse).


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