The golden age of Canadian reggae left an indelible imprint in the country’s musical landscape. It’s a legacy that continues to influence today’s music scene with Toronto and/or Canadian connections in many of the successful pop/reggae infusions that are charting everywhere. Rolling Stone acknowledged the impact of Toronto-based reggae artists such as Messenjah, Sattalites and Jackie Mittoo on current chart-topping acts such as Magic! (Rude). Celebrating this particular heritage, the 12th Annual IRIE Festival Opening Ceremonies will feature a Who’s Who of Toronto’s reggae elite, performing for the first time ever on stage together at 12:00 p.m. on Friday, August 1, at Nathan Phillips Square. The concert takes place a mere kilometre away from the former location of the BamBoo Club, the city’s central nerve for reggae which attracted some of reggae’s true pioneers who called Toronto home. The opening ceremonies kick off a weekend-long festival featuring some of reggae’s hottest international acts including Richie Spice, Etana, and Alison Hinds.
“Bands like Earth, Roots & Water, Ishan People, Truths and Rights, 20th Century Rebels, Messenjah and Sattalites laid the foundations for reggae music in Canada,” says IRIE Festival Artistic Director Phil Vassell, who is also a vital voice for Toronto’s Caribbean community as editor of WordMagazine. “The Toronto melting pot of the 1970s was fertile ground for the mixture of Jamaican-Canadian influences, and what happened in the music scene up until the early 1990s still reverberates within the pop music scene.”
The opening ceremonies lineup includes:
Fergus Hambleton, JoJo Bennett and members of the Sattalites, Canada’s longest-standing reggae group, and the first Canadian band ever invited to play atJamaica’s famed Sunsplash music festival.
Rupert “Ojiji” Harvey and Carl Harvey of Messenjah, a progressive roots reggae band widely regarded as one of the most successful and popular reggae groups in the history of Canadian music.
Tabarruk, led by Dr. Jason Wilson, a multi-instrumentalist singer-songwriter who was a protégé of Studio One keyboardist Jackie Mittoo
Adrian “Sheriff” Miller, lead singer for Earth, Roots & Water, one of the first prominent reggae bands in Toronto in the ’70s and later in the ’80s for 20th Century Rebels, a progressive reggae band comprised of Jamaicans, Canadians and British-born musicians.
Michael St. George, one of Canada’s leading dub poets whose uncompromising, syncopated, hard-driving baselines and melodic forms are infused with reggae, ska, rhythm & blues, and jazz influences.
The 12th Annual TD IRIE Music Festival is a FREE multi-day, family-friendly festival that takes place August 1–4, 2014 (Nathan Phillips Square, Toronto) and August 23–24, 2014 (Celebration Square, Mississauga).The lineup includes internationally renowned soca, reggae, and calypso artists such as Alison Hinds, Richie Spice, Etana, Richie Stephens, and David Rudder, along with local talent such as Juno Award-winning Odel, The Arsenals (known for “100% Kick-Ass Ska”), and soca DJ group D’Enforcas, as well as up-and-coming artists. The Nathan Phillips Square weekend concludes with a traditional island-style “blocko” featuring some of Toronto’s best DJs including Toronto’s legendary DJ Carl Allen spinning a mix of reggae, calypso and soca. In addition to showcasing some of today’s top reggae music acts, the festival offers dance, spoken word/literature, visual arts, tropical food, and more. For more information visit: iriemusicfestival.com or call 905-799-1630.