Andrew Murphy ADD

SummerJam 2023 - Festival Report | PART II

07/01/2023 by Gardy Stein

SummerJam 2023 - Festival Report | PART II


The Spirit of Peace
is the motto for this Summerjam's 36th edition – and indeed, peace is the most urgent goal we have to achieve in this time. Globally, to allow every human being to grow up in a peaceful environment, and to enable a modus operandi in which all world leaders can sit on a round table, respectfully talking about the problems we have to solve. Individually, to achieve the peace of mind necessary to unfold our full potential and contribute to the positive development of our surroundings. While the former might be a bit beyond our reach, the latter can be easily achieved: all you need is the will to put yourself at ease, the motivation to truly be at peace with the unique person you are. It helps when you are around a bunch of wonderful, like-minded people, enjoying fine food and celebrating the music you love in a beautiful natural setting… conditions which are all met this weekend in Cologne!

As always, Reggaeville will provide you with a coverage of the whos and whats and hows of the days ahead, so tune in to our social media channels for exciting reels and behind-the-scenes stories, click through the photo gallery and follow the report right here to witness The Spirit of Peace unfurling. CHECK PART I THURSDAY & FRIDAY HERE

Saturday, July 1st 2023

We wake up to grey skies and a slight drizzle, a blessing for the plants and the festival, as the moisture binds the dust that rose in billowing clouds yesterday evening. The night has been short (a standard in festival season, I guess), and we are more than grateful for the coffee provided by the Summerjam press team – a big shoutout to JJ, Vera, Jutta, Katharina, Fabi and the other helpers! The day promises to be a packed one, with many exciting acts to witness and people to meet.

The rain has intensified, but a small crowd has gathered nevertheless in front of Stage Green, sporting raincoats and umbrellas. They are here to see the first act for today, a young talent from Jamaica by the name of Tatik, as moderator Ganjaman informs us. Behind the artist, his manager and MC Wayne and Silly-Walks-DJ Oli have taken position to provide the soundtrack to his show, the latter because the Hamburg producers have just released the Ginger Riddim on which Tatik dropped a version called Purpose. He performs said tune, along with several others like Strongest Soldier or Leggo Mi Ears, but due to the early hour and the rain, the reaction is a bit damped.

1:55pm, RED STAGE
Meanwhile Treesha has kicked off the program on Stage Red, coming in strong with a band of seven. She is wearing a beautiful ensemble of slim black trousers and Kente prints, and engages in energetic dancing movements during tracks like Balance Me Out and Got Da Juice, the latter produced by Poland's K-Jah Sound. "Big up, my family, for coming out in the rain and waiting for me!" she calls out, beaming, and you can feel that she is really enjoying her slot. During the "lover's section" she now announces, she welcomes upcoming artist Travis, but his voice is barely audible as the mic is too low (one of the very few technical problems I witnessed during the festival – respect to all technicians and sound engineers for the good work).

Towards the end of her show, Treesha introduces her band (including Aca on bass, Toby and Bodry Johnson on keys as well as drummer Oshane Campbell, who we'll encounter again later) and then brings Bay-C on stage for an energetic delivery of their combination tune Rude Gyal Swing, and the double fun they have is infectious, especially when it comes to a sexy dancing interlude. Speaking of: three dancers are part of Treesha's team, and it really is a joy to see how this art form is increasingly included on stages.

Mortimer! One of the many acts I've been really looking forward to see again live, ever since his epic show at Reggae Jam 2022. He is here now with his band called the Earthtones, consisting of Evan Mason on keys, Keneil Delisser on drums, a bassie whose name I still have to find out, and Lamont Savory (probably the busiest guitarist of this weekend). "Love is the most powerful thing there is. Love, and music. Never underestimate the power of music!" Mortimer says, and all those present agree. The rain has almost stopped by now, and in order to get the full musical experience, I go next to the FOH where the sound is best, close my eyes and let myself be carried away by the musical waves these guys emit. Songs like Fight The Fight, Lightning and Whole Heap, a very personal song as Mortimer tells us, wash over us, accompanied by motivational words by the singer: "Promise yourself, no matter what, we gonna keep on fighting! Through struggle and pain, heartache and rain… let me hear you say that, louder!"

3:21pm, RED STAGE
Another young Jamaican talent is meanwhile occupying the Red Stage: Jaz Elise! While she started out in purple during the first recordings and interviews, her current style is orange, and "issa good look"! After playing the track Gratitude, she invites the people to come closer, asking them if they are ready to Rock And Groove with her. They obviously are, and during the subsequent medley of well-known Reggae covers (I Feel Good, Tune In, Murder She Wrote and Ring The Alarm), movement is on. She closes her set with For You, the first track I ever heard by Jaz Elise, and Good Over Evil, and with this important message ringing in my ears (and because the rain is starting to fall again), I decide to take a coffee break.

3:52pm, PRESS AREA
One cup of steaming hot coffee later, the well-known face of Teacha Dee shows up at our improvised Reggaeville office. As I haven't recorded any artist quotes as yet, I ask him if he would grant me one, and to my delight, he complies with the request. Here's his answer to the question what motivates him to do music: "I believe it's an internal responsibility that I took on to share a positive energy, and I feel responsible to the fans because a lot of them are getting spiritual health, a lot of them are getting strength from what I'm doing, you know. They reach out and tell me thank you and all that, so I have a responsibility to the fans. And because of that my content is not the kind of content out there, it's specialized and I keep it clean, so… you have to think about the people that Reggae is supposed to help spiritually, and that is what I do." Give thanks for people like these, taking their mission serious!

By now the rain has stopped again (there are some occasional sunrays even!), and although I'd really like to check out the Soca Carnival in session with the Soca Twins, Fabi Benz and Franky Fyah at the Vibez Village, I turn to the Green Stage to catch the legendary Third World.

Style! Swag! Crissness! Steven "Cat" Coore is a splendid sight to behold, wearing bright red Clarks, dark trousers and a matching suit jacket with Ganja leaves in bright green, topping it all off with a red-gold-green crochet hat… and a Reggaeville T-Shirt! The Third World founding member looks fit and delivers a fantastic show together with singer AJ Brown (who wears a Reggaeville shirt as well) and the rest of the band, and a first of many goosebump-moments comes when guitar and piano hold a musical communication for the intro of 96° In The Shade. The next one follows right behind, when the sun breaks through the clouds, intensifying the colors in everything it touches, and AJ sings You're Not The Only One including six or seven rounds of acapella chorus with the audience at the end. Drummer Tony "Ruption" Williams leaves his set and comes up front with a big Djembe and a talking drum that he plays alternatingly to the claps of the crowd, then he grabs his drumsticks and turns to bassie Richard Daley to hit the bass' strings in a percussive take on the instrument. Cat Coore, who has just spotted Andrew Murphy backstage, waves him a quick hello and picks up a futuristic cello with which he sits down in the afternoon sun, playing Redemption Song, and the crowd takes up the chorus and sings the whole song in unison. Goosebumps, again!

4:44pm, RED STAGE
A whole different kinda vibes wait for us at the other stage, where Kemaul Matrin aka the Bush Lawd aka Yaksta makes his first ever appearance at this festival. He gives us a taste of his Country Dancehall, as he dubs his music, songs with conscious, uplifting content presented by his band called The Skalawagz. They consist of Nicolas Groskopf (guitar), Sherwayne Thompson (bass), Joel Anderson (keys) and Phillip Whynn (drums), while Shanice Phillips and Justine Rookwood are backing vocals again, and they work just great together. "You wonderful people, this is love, love is us!" Yaksta calls out, and among the songs he presents today are Emotions, Country Come Town, Natty Coming Home, and Jet Black, his take on Silly Walks' Ginger Riddim during which he calls compatriot Tatik on stage (as he has a version on the same riddim). "If you give them the power, you are a captive, but if you take your power back, you are in control!" he continues his teachings as an intro to the track Freedom, and since I definitely have to recharge my power supply, I queue up at one of the nearby food stands.

While I wait in line, a wide array of festival visitors passes me by: within a few minutes, I see a unicorn, an elderly white-haired couple holding hands, a family with two small children, four friends with exquisite glitter-make-up, a group of Gambian brothers, a man who sewed all his Summerjam-festival-wristbands on his shirt, three paramedics (thank you guys for being there all weekend!), and a Minion. No lie!

Yaksta is still grabbing the audience's attention (he's a natural performer, judging from the way he plays with crowd and camera), and his most intense track is yet to come. "Now, this song brought me through my hard days, and I wrote for me personally, but I will share it with you." he announces and then drops the beautiful Super Human, a song so heavily loaded with lyrics that y'all should check it out with full concentration after the festival.

5:38 pm, GREEN STAGE
From an attractive male to a sexy female singer, it is just a matter of a few meters: Tanya Stephens rocks Stage Red, and I quickly join the crowd who is just about to take a Good Ride with the singer. She seems to be in a jocular mood. "Summerjam, I haven't seen you in a while, how have you been? The next piece is a love song for all the men out there. Can I tell you which part of you I love the most?" she asks before jumping into a delivery of Boom Wuk, at the end of which Tanya asks: "Who has a long dingdong?" and, when a man up front puts both his hands up, turns to him: "Really? I don't believe you. Is there anyone in the audience who can confirm this?" Roaring laughter is the answer, and I wonder if the girl close to me, who has just lifted her hand, understood the question well…  

then continues the show, telling us that she'll celebrate her 50th Birthday tomorrow and she feels nothing like fifty. My guess that she'll play the homonymous track from her new album Some Kinda Madness is wrong, though, as it's the older track What's Your Story. She then gets a bit more serious, saying: "Everybody hurts inside, even if people don't let it show. It's ok to hurt, because it's human!" She's so right!

To the soundtrack of Tanya Stephens' final song, I cross over to the Feel Good Area once more, as I want to check out the runnings in the far left corner. Next to the tree under which a drumming circle is in session whenever I pass, several mini-ping-pong-tables are set up, and, with a lot of running and laughter, a group of friends tries to play. Since yesterday, a graffiti artwork takes shape in this corner, too, toying with the festival's motto and a stoned dove. Three or four children are holding cans and test what it's like to spray on a canvas spread especially for them, assisted by volunteers and Martin Scholz aka Onkel Dose, a graffiti artist and activist for over ten years now. He tells me that this workshop grew from a joint project with Viva Con Agua and, asked for a motivational quote, adds: "Just do! Whatever you feel like trying, just do it."

6:15pm, RED STAGE
For the fourth time at Summerjam, but for the first time as Grammy winner, Kabaka Pyramid now firmly inhabits Stage Red along with his Bebble Rockers (Shackair McQueen on guitar, Craig "Grizzle" Higgins on bass, Andre Dennis and Shane "Fyah Keyz" Stone on keyboard, Christophe Smith on drums and Nicoleen Greensworld on backing vocals). After a lengthy intro and tunes like Ready Fi Di Road and Rock Mi Nice, Kabaka says, to a loud roar of approval: "This song right here is for all freedom fighters who stand up for justice!" and delivers Stand Up. Just like Warrior and Can't Breathe, it shows his critical mindset, the conviction that artists are not just there for entertainment, but for giving a voice to the voiceless, of informing a global audience about what's happening in different parts of the world. In the subsequent Dancehall section, the band takes us on a ride through several riddims, such as the Real Rock, Ring The Alarm (the second time this weekend I hear this riddim quoted) and Stalag (the third time that Murder She Wrote comes up). Guitarist Shackair hands his instrument over to Kabaka, then takes Grizzle's bass as he picks up the mic to drop a line or two. "See how mi band versatile?" the Pyramid says, proudly, and brings Nicoleen up front for a delivery of Sister Nancy's Bam Bam. Mooood!

A definite highlight of the show is Kabaka's rendition of Peter Tosh's Mystic Man from his Grammy-winning album The Kalling, and before he starts the subsequent track The Revival, he pays his respects to his fellow artists: "Yo, big up Yaksta, Nattali Rize, Protoje, Mortimer, Jaz Elise, the whole family, Turbulence in the place… no competition!"  

As it starts to rain again, I run for cover. The back of the stage is packed tight, not only with instruments and a whole lotta equipment for the upcoming shows of Peter Fox and Trettmann, but also with technicians, VIP guests and some of the artists just mentioned, including Mortimer and Nattali Rize. They skank along to Kabaka's final tunes Well Done, Red Gold & Green, and The Kalling, after which the Pyramid waves his goodbyes (spoiler alert: this won't be the last time Kabaka's name is mentioned in this report!).

On my way to "the office", I pass two men on the parking lot who fumble with a drone and some technical gear, and I ask who they work for. Their company,, was booked by the WDR Rockpalast to provide the visuals from above, it turns out, so any time you see drone footage in the Summerjam livestreams, we have them to thank for. Once again I realize how much work goes into a huge event like this. It is not just the obvious stuff like stage and sound, it is all the small building blocks which make the whole, from the lady who runs around chasing signatures for the acts' playlists to assure the copyright clearance to the hard-working crew who squeeze through the crowd with fresh supplies of beer and soda, from the countless RAD Security men and women to the backstage caterers, from the drivers to the cleaners, from the photo- & videographers who capture all those beautiful moments to the Summerjam-team who hold all those strings together: a heartfelt THANK YOU!

7:33pm, PRESS AREA
In order to finish writing yesterday's report and take a much-needed break, I have to sacrifice the surprise show of Memoria-brother Chaski, who stepped in on short notice for the absent Afrobeats-act KiDi. While he rocks the Green Stage, I take the opportunity to talk to Paris "LaMont" Dennis, who is chilling in the VIP zone. He is an extremely talented keyboarder and producer I met on one of Protoje's first European tours with the full In.Digg.Nation band, and a very down-to-earth person at that. Of course I have to ask him for his motivation to do what he does, and he says: "Knowing that I'm gonna set an example for the people around me, whether it's my family or my friends - that motivates me!"

Back on track! While I don't know Hilltop Hoods, a Hip Hop act from Australia that's playing on Stage Red right now, I do know Turbulence, who stepped in for Ky-Mani Marley. Backed by the House of Riddim band, he sweeps the stage just the way his name implies, and by the time he reaches his well-known Ethiopia Awakes on the Shanty Town Riddim, the crowd jumps along to the beat. The versatile singer uses the isntrumental for a Harry Belafonte tribute (RIP!) with Day-O, backed by waving flags and a choir of hundreds. As the band then jumps to the Far East Riddim (one of my many all-time favorites!), Turbulence says: "Me respect every elder on this riddim, me haffi big up all artists who sing pon it!" and touches in quick succession on tunes like Cocoa Tea's Tune In, Bushman's Fire Bun A Weak Heart and Buju Banton's Murderer, Reggae classics that newcomers to the genre should study. Not leaving out the great Bob Marley, he then intones One Love, filling the evening air with this important message. "I don't see color, I see people! Sing with me… One Love! Do you mean it?" Give thanks for artists like these!

9:22pm, RED STAGE

It's Tretti time! The well-known Kitschkrieg sample that starts some of his most successful songs introduces the artist who made it big, from comedian Ronny to the much more serious Trettmann. It's just him, sunglasses, a black hooded jacket, the huge empty screen behind and a light rack on which he performs his second track Knöcheltief. "It feels so good to be here again! The last time was five years ago, it's like a homecoming… and I can tell you, you still look as good as back then, if not better! Can I start?" The next hour passes in a flash of lights and sounds and the screams of his fans, and as the WDR Livestream is still available on YouTube, I'll let you check his full performance out there. Suffice it to say that he performed a tight mix of old (e.g. Was Solls) and new tracks, taken from his new album Insomnia (e.g. Stefan Richter and Für Dich Da). Also worth mentioning is the fact that he invited two Jamaican dancers to perform with him, Jason 1 aka Famous Dancer and Jason 2 aka Flava Legend.

10:05 pm,
Back in Reggae waters with Anthony B! The artist is an old stager, having a firm grip on his voice, his legendary movements, and the crowd with tunes like One In A Million, Damage or God Above Everything. The singer, dressed all in black with a red-gold-green tie, is backed by House of Riddim, who have changed into white shirts and black vests and thus are the perfect optical as well as sonic fit. Not as perfect is the performance of featured artist Kimley Mayron from New York that Anthony B now introduces.

She looks great for sure, but her voice is barely audible, even when she exchanges her mic with Anthony's, and although the volume is then raised, their soft track From The Heart is a bit too corny for the current mood. I check the Youth Rebels Stage for a minute, where a lot of people have just arrived after the Tretti show has finished and are now catching the party vibe going on over there.

Returning in time for the introduction of a nice tune called Chill Out from Anthony's new album Bread & Butter (out since March!), little do I know that one of today's highlights is just around the corner. It manifests when Mr. B calls on compatriot Turbulence to come on stage, who, wearing one of those good-looking Reggaeville T-Shirts (*hemhem*), delivers a vibrant version of their collaboration Real Warrior. The place is set on fire already by the two of them, but when, out of the blue, Kabaka Pyramid suddenly joins them, the crowd goes crazy – hands and flags fly up, whistles and horns are blown, people jump and shout along. Bedlam! Kabaka expresses his appreciation by saying: "People! Me haffi tell unu this. You see Anthony B, he's the first man who carry me fi do some shows ina Europe. Him teach me everything me know about stagecraft. Make some noise for this legend!"

11:35pm, RED STAGE
Talking of today's highlights… Summerjam just keeps them coming. Peter Fox belongs in this category for sure, and his team has spared neither cost nor effort to make his show a memorable one. Apart from the musical quality of his output (I can hear the naysayers complaining "This is not Reggae, why is he headlining a Reggae festival?" and rerere, but this man is innovative in the truest sense of the word!), the stage is an explosion of colors and sights. They built a platform on which more than 50 dancers accompany the show, two females in gaudy outfits and big cymbals provide their very own action spots, and the one, two, three, many musicians fill up the stage with their instruments. When Peter Fox, in a white mesh marina with long sleeves and a light blue suit, enters the stage, the crowd's reaction is immediate – and loud! He starts with four tracks from his brand-new album Love Songs and is immediately joined by singer Benji Asare, also in a suit, in apricot, with whom Fox has collaborated a lot recently.  

The following hour flashes by in what feels like a fast forward, and Peter Fox touches on many of his hits, including Schwarz Zu Blau, Lok Auf 2 Beinen and Schüttel Deinen Speck. As if the amount of talent on stage wouldn't be enough already, in comes Frank Dellé who joins his bandmate on the Seeed track Augenbling. Madness!  

"Mr. Engineer, please turn up the light in the crowd, I want to talk to the people! I want you to understand everything I say!" Barrington Levy looks criss in a white Seedless sweater with matching black cap, and his voice is as present as ever. Songs like Too Experienced, She's Mine, Living Dangerously, What Kind Of World and Prison Oval Rock bring back memories of a time when I just started out listening to this sweet music, and I genuinely enjoy his set. I'm not the only one, as the audience is alive with movement and many fellow Jamaicans show up backstage, among them Popcaan in a yellow sweater who gives a bottle salute for each new song. Special mention deserves the band who was especially formed for this occasion, among them Oshane Campbell, who plays the drums like I've never seen them being played before. Energy, passion and precision!

0:37am, RED STAGE

Over here at the Red Stage, we've reached the show's final with Zukunft Pink. Fists are raised when a big banner is unrolled on stage, saying "Future is now!", a lady in a wheelchair goes crowd-surfing, the dancers go crazy… this is a spectacle those present will never forget! After Peter Fox disappears from the stage, the audience calls for "Zugabe!" immediately, and after a few minutes, the artists come back. "Ok, you still have energy left?" Peter asks, slightly out of breath, and then delivers his last three songs Toscana Fanboys, Alles Neu and Haus Am See, before calling it a night.

For those who still feel like partying, the Dancehall Area holds the promise of a long, action-packed night. Warrior Sound and Freak De L'Afrique take half-hourly turns showering us with Reggae, Dancehall and Afrobeats, and on stage, there are skillful dancers heating up the vibes further. Thank you, Summerjam, for another exciting, joyful, and memorable day and night!

Sunday, July 2nd 2023

The last days have been intense. So many sights and sounds to take in, so much music to fill our hearts and souls! It feels odd waking up knowing that this is already the last day of Summerjam 2023 (how the time flies when we enjoy ourselves!), so our resolve is to enjoy this Sunday to the maxx!

Yes, Team Reggaeville is on site early, as Munchy has arranged an interview with Awa Fall in half an hour and we have to set that up. Upon arrival, we witness the "drum boat" making its traditional round on the lake – a beautiful sight to behold, and certainly a wakeup-call for those camping on the lake's shore. No rain today, it seems, as the sky shines in a crisp blue, studded with white clouds, and a fresh breeze is blowing. At our"office", I play an appreciative message that my friend Laura from Hamburg just sent: "I'm sitting here drinking my coffee, checking my Insta, and my feed is full with Reggaeville! You are massive, with all the videos and cuts you are posting, you are so diligent and hardworking, it's just a joy to follow everything from afar." Just the dose of motivation we need to kick off the day!

Wearing a lovely gown in royal blue that billows in the wind, the impressive figure of Awa Fall dominates the stage. She opens the program over here with her band of four, The 3quencies: Nico Rokkamo on drums, Davide Di Leche on bass, David Assuntino on keys and Piero Dread on guitar, and together they see to a powerful start with tracks like Reggae Resurrection or Fire & Flames from her recent album by the same name. Awa is an amazing vocalist and a great performer, and despite the early hour there is a small crowd catching her vibe and her messages which revolve around subjects such as Roots & Culture and Show Love, but can also get a bit harder, angrier, as in Nuff A Dem or Run Dem. Make sure you check out her recent collaboration What A Joy with UK's Alpha Steppa for a fine example of how she sounds!

2:05pm, RED STAGE

Would I do this review in German, I would write: Jizzle ist am Stizzle (which means something like "Jizzle is on!"), just for the fun sound of it. Fun is what the Gambian artist Jerreh Jallow aka Jizzle has over here on Stage Red, and he is frenetically celebrated by the audience. "Somebody say Scorpion – we wanna party!", he announces his next track, climbing on the big bass boxes in the photo pit and waving into the crowd. He took his shirt off already, posing for the cameras in his dark yellow pants, Dior belt, muscles and all. His loudest fans are some fellow Gambians, as it might well be the first time that an artist from this small African country is on the big stage over here. He addresses them in his country's language Wolof, mixing words and phrases of it in his songs as well. "Red white blue white green – I love you!" he says, with reference to the flags waved in the audience, and continues: "Shout out to all my fans, black or white, it doesn't matter where you come from. We are one – say ONE!"

From England, a band of four has already started to play on Stage Green: The Skints in da place! Singer and guitarist Josh Waters, who was busy building the Wurl Sound with Lila Iké recently, leads through their set, announcing songs like Restless and Learning To Swim from their most recent album Swimming Lessons, and older pieces, too. "Your friends The Skints will cross the lake, holding hands, and walk into the forest!", he says in reference to The Forest For The Trees, a piece from their 2015 album FM. Singer and multi-instrumentalist Marcia Richards, in a yellow petticoat and with pink braids flying, grabs a fife and turns the song into a Freddy McGregor tribute by playing the melody of Big Ship Sailing to which her bandmates sing along. Their three-fold vocal harmonies (along with Josh and Marcia, drummer Jamie Kyriakides also joins in the singing in several songs) is what makes this band so special, next to their fine musical delivery, of course (for which bassie Johnathan Doyle is as responsible as the others) and their English humour. "I heard a rumour that there are still three people in Cologne who like Ska, and that one of them is here today. Is that true?"     

It's more than one, Josh, as the dancing moves in the subsequent Lay You Down show. Not older than three or four years, a little boy up front, dressed in a red-gold-green mesh marina, jeans and Clarks, moves in perfect time to the music, dreads flying. Next generation deya!

3:11pm, RED STAGE

Welcome to The Liberate Tour! Today starts the European leg, as Nattali Rize informs us, and she introduces her band of four that accompanies her on it: Duke on guitar, Sparrow on bass, Yusaku on keys and Tash on drums. Boom! For those who don't know Nattali: this powerful lady is not only a singer, but also an activist, calling out for global justice and the defence of basic human rights in songs such as Warriors, Heart Of A Lion or One Love Is Action. Before she performs Liberate, she says: "The next song features one of my favourite artists of all times, a legend who inspired me on my journey: Judy Mowatt! I grew up to the sound of her voice, and in 2022, I was finally able to meet her and record this song with her. We must give thanks to this generation and the island of Jamaica for this music called Reggae!" Word! Nattali then picks up an acoustic guitar and sings the simple but powerful One People, with her band slowly joining in. Goosebumps again!


A different kinda vibe waits on Stage Green with Mal Élevé, formerly known as part of the Irie Révoltés. "Qui, qui nous protège de la Police?" ('Who protects us from the police?') his angry voice rings through the speakers on a fast-paced beat, mirrored by that of Osy, who supports this show. Support is a big subject, both in Mal Élevé's songs and in today's performance, as several contributions show. For one, he wears a T-shirt with the word FEMINISM printed in bold letters, and he stresses its message by saying: "We need your voice for feminism, for the feminist revolution. Let me see a peace sign!" to approving screams from the crowd. Music-wise, Osy and Mal Élevé express their solidarity for Jin Jiyan Azadi with a song by the same title (which is a feature with German-Iranian singer TriXstar), and introduce a sister called Melane to the crowd. A little further into the show, the Viva Con Agua boat that went crowdsurfing at Jan Delay's concert already is back, this time collecting cups with Osy in it. Towards the end of their slot, a big flag is unrolled on stage saying "Free Lina", in reference to a left-winged activist that was imprisoned (but is now set free). A very political set which shows that Reggae is so much more than beach-music – it's the soundtrack of unity, solidarity and revolution, as hundreds of raised fists show!

4:32pm, RED STAGE
Still soundchecking: 12 musicians are on Stage Red, testing mics and instruments, so that Andrew Murphy announces Inna De Yard with a little delay: "I'm so happy that such music still exists!" he says, and so are we, as the warm welcome from the crowd reveals. First vocalist on the set is Kush McAnuff, who pounds a large drum while singing Come Away, one of nine tracks that will be presented with different vocalists. Up next is Keith & Tex with Stop That Train (later they come in again with Down The Street) and, after them, Kiddus I with Fire Burn as well as Cedric Myton with Humanity. While all of them are creatively styled, the outfit of Winston McAnuff deserves special mention: a pilot's hat, a black jacket with golden glitter over a shirt depicting Haile Selassie as well as heavy DocMarten boots with a floral print, he draws many a glance when he steps up to the mic to sing Baltimore. The respect these legends command is visible both by the jubilant reaction of the audience and by the number of artists in the crowd, Teacha Dee and Frank Dellé among them. I seize the opportunity to ask the latter what motivates him, and he says: "Music is a universal language, it has always been a vehicle of expressing myself. You are motivated by different role models, of course a lot of us, especially here, have been motivated by Bob Marley and the way he was able to express his problems and tribulations by his music. When I see the people here, it is such a motivation for me that we can go until we drop. These guys up there, they are 76 or so, but look at them! They look like they are 45, they are flirting around, jumping… I see, wow, the journey is not over."

Meanwhile, Rootz Underground's Stephen Newland has stepped up to the mic to deliver a tune called Foundation, and together with Kush and bassie Delroy "Wormbass" Nevin they turn up the heat, requesting and receiving a sing-along on the track's chorus. What Inna De Yard create here is an almost mystical atmosphere, especially with songs that incorporate the Nyabinghi percussion so close to our heartbeats that it's a form of trance, like Malcolm X up next. People who were sitting comfortably stand up to dance, and many move along to the beat with eyes closed. Thank you for this musical blessing, Dwight Pinkney (guitar), Alfonso Craig (percussion), Olivier Caron (trombone), Guillaume Briard (saxophone), Francklyn Waul (keyboard), those mentioned above and all who made this performance possible!

Thus filled with musical meditation, I run into Turbulence on my way to get some food. He looks stunning, dressed in black from head to toe, with light brown Clarks, a massive golden chain with a lion's head pendant and golden embroidery on sleeves and collar. Since today is the last day and, unfortunately, the artists will leave sooner or later, I ask him for his motivational quote, and this is what he said: "All experience, all motivation come from the Most High. Being alive, seeing the people, welcoming the people, the people welcoming me, the vast inauguration, the reception - this is always making me move. Reggae music is always taking me places, and I'm just tremendously appreciative of everything, so that's my motivation!" You see, as much as you appreciate the artists, they also appreciate you, Summerjam!

After diner and touching base with my colleagues in the Press Area, who tell me about the amazing show that KWAM.E has delivered over at the Green Stage, I'm ready for the next act: SOJA!

6:12pm, RED STAGE
The Californian band is the second Grammy-winning act during this festival - they won the trophy last year for their album Beauty In The Silence, from which they play It's Funny, Jump and Things You Can't Control. After the latter, singer Jacob Hemphill tells us: "Don't worry about the things you can't control. Close your eyes. The sun is shinging, the music is sweet, your friends are in the crowd – life is good!" He's so right! Next to these new tracks, SOJA also play older crowd favorites such as You Don't Know Me or Rest Of My Life, and when the late afternoon sun shines on the audience who lift up their hands as one, my heart sings… it's just one of these moments when you feel part of something BIG. On stage, guitarist Trevor Young exchanges his Ukulele for an E-guitar for the rocky notes of To Whom It May Concern, just to impress us utterly during the subsequent True Love, where he plays two guitars at once! I've never seen something like this, and in case you haven't, I really hope the WDR video is still available so you can check it out.

Next to the sonic bliss the musicians of the band provide (next to those mentioned, we have Robert Jefferson on bass, Ryan Berty on drums, Patrick Oshea on keys, Hellman Escorcia on sax, Rafa Rodriguez on trumpet and Ken Brownell on percussions), it is the visuals on the screen behind them that are really impressive. Great job, Mr. VJ!

My little detour to the Riddim Tent, where Inna De Yard have just arrived to take pictures with fans and give autographs, is interrupted by a call of duty by Team Reggaeville. Julian wants to do a little video for Jutta, who has managed the SummerJam Press/ Media for years and years and will now step down a bit. Under much laughter, the little film of gratitude is recorded, and when she receives it the next day (together with similar messages from other crews), she is touched – and happy. Turning back to the Red Stage after that, I catch the farewell words of Jacob which perfectly fit the occasion: "Be nice to each other! Love each other!"

As I'm not particularly keen on Disartstar's German Rap, I take a little break and meet up with my social media friend General Huge aka Hugo Poncet, a French singer and producer living in China (he is the founder and CEO of ChinaMan Yard Records) with whom I exchanged messages and music, but never met in real life. We do now, and he introduces me to the Chinese Reggae singer Stinging Ray, who has caught my attention with the track Jailhouse Skankin back in 2021 and now wants to check out some European festivals. He is a really talented youth, so please give him a slot somewhere, someone!

7:46pm, RED STAGE

Guess who's coming to dinner? Tarrus Riley! Definitely one of today's highlights, "Mr. Singy Singy", his Blak Soil Band and saxophone legend Dean Fraser nice up the place, opening with tracks like Gimme Likkle One Drop and Love's Contagious. During the latter, the whole band freezes at times, causing surprise and laughter among the spectators. This is more than a concert - this is musical theatre at its best! One of the most attentive artists I know, Tarrus looks into the crowd and at the many flags that are waved, saying: "Big up Kenya! Gambia! Ghana! Suriname! Jamaica!" (be honest – would you know what Suriname's flag looks like?), then jumps down from stage to lean over the fence in the photo pit and shake hands with his fans while singing Wild Fire / Protect The People Jah. Sweetness!

When the security have helped him climb back up, he intones Simple Things, followed by a medley of different pieces, the Shenseea feature Lighter among them. "Tonight is a celebration!" he insists, "We celebrate life, love, unity, and peace. If you believe that music is the most powerful thing, say Yeah!" (crowd: "Yeeeeaaaah!") "It brings us together!", a beaming Tarrus says and continues with his catalogue, ending his set with sing-along tunes like She's Royal and Good Girl Gone Bad.

With Mono & Nikitaman, another very alert and politically engaged group is on Stage Green now. Their lyrics not only implore solidarity and peace, but also conjure up visions of a better tomorrow, spreading hope as in Stell Dir Vor ('Imagine') or the currently playing Zeit Für Optimisten ('Time For Optimists'). Viva Con Agua is on stage with them, waving their white-and-blue flags and sending their rubber boat on another crowdsurfing-expedition, collecting beakers from the audience. As the organization informs us later, they were able to raise around 4,600 €, which will be used to dig wells for clean drinking water in Uganda and Ethiopia. Summerjam, u laaaarge!

9:05pm, PRESS AREA
Half an hour or so after their show, friends and family of Mono & Nikitaman have assembled in the Press Area, their children swinging on the metal scaffolds. I approach them to ask for a motivation quote, and as Mono is deep in conversation, Nikitaman answers as follows: "Really, there are times when you ask yourself: 'Why am I doing all this?' But the moment you stand on stage and the music starts and you look into people's faces and you see your own emotions mirrored in them, you realize: 'Wow, something is happening here!' That's what it's really all about, the essence of making live music, to look at and recognize each other, and thus create something that is really special. This gives me the motivation to continue making live music."

Again, you see, it's all about you, the audience! And, since I hear your claps and screams from the Green Stage, I know it is time for…

! With an extended instrumental, the new Groundation band around Harrison Stafford welcomes us to The Sound Of Music. "It's this beautiful thing called Reggae music that brings us all together here!" he says to loud approval from the large crowd, and again the whole band dives into a musical communication. Their show is a special one indeed, including live dubbing and an instrumental solo of each band member: crystal clear trumpet notes, the saxophonist playing the melody of Damian Marley's Medication, the trombonist continuing the vibe with daddy Marley's Get Up, Stand Up (bear with me, the names of the band members will follow!). It's beautiful, they really really "play" their instruments in the primary sense of the words, experimenting with the sounds they create, throwing at us the euphonious results of their skills…
Playing songs like Weeping Pirates from their seminal album Hebron Gate, Harrison invites us to celebrate its 20th anniversary this year, and, for those who want to be again immersed in this musical bliss, you can do so for a few more dates, as their tour is still on. At the end of their set, Mr. Stafford says: "It doesn't matter where you come from, California, Germany, Jamaica… we are all one!", and to much applause they leave the stage. For minutes, the people call for an encore, but moderator Ganjaman informs us that the stage will be closed, and he calls on everyone to go over to the Red Stage, where Popcaan is still performing. He then takes the opportunity to thank everyone present, from visitor to technician, for their contribution to make this festival such a success.

10:34pm, RED STAGE
Masses! Masses of people have assembled here to witness the final act for today (and the festival), as the young Dancehall legend, Andrae Hugh Sutherland aka the Unruly Boss aka Popcaan is in session. He's been around since Saturday, enjoying the shows of other Jamaican artists on stage with his giant of a bodyguard, but now it's HIS time. Equipped with a full band (Jaydon Campbell on bass, Tim Pafabio on drums, as well as Jordan Watson on keyboards and console), he has swept through his extensive catalogue during the last hour, touching on his breakthrough-hit Clarks (sung acapella by the audience), the well-known Party Shot, the smoker's anthem Weed Is My Best Friend, a few ladies' tunes including Only Man She Want, but also calmer pieces such as Silence and Everything Nice. Since by now there is no chance to find a comfortable spot on the crowded field to watch the grande finale and the photo pit is closed, my Reggaeville colleague Björn takes me to the back of the stage from where we plan to quietly watch. Then, during the final piece Family, the fireworks start, Poppy calls for a pull-up and says: "Me want everybody pon di stage right now. "Family is always first! Big up all true Popcaan fans in the place, I love you for life! Me waan everybody pon di stage right now. Tarrus Riley, Protoje, Turbulence, Marius and the Summerjam team, the Unruly Squad, this one is for family. Everybody over ya so, forward pon stage now! I mean everybody!" Of course everybody on stage heeds his call, and now both stage and festival area are full, celebrating family, life, love and music. With so many voices singing along, the fireworks above our heads, and the condensed emotions of the last four days bubbling within, this is an almost otherworldly experience. We say family!

As always, Andrew Murphy closes the festvial with an acoustic rendition of Marley's Redemption Song, and then, just like that, this Summerjam Festival is over. Around 25,000 people have taken part in this extraordinary celebration, and The Spirit Of Peace has been with us all along (at least I'm not aware of any fights or quarrels). May we carry it into our surroundings, every one of us, every single day from now on, as this will have an impact on the whole world and, hopefully, we will reach a state as humanity when conflicts can be solved by words instead of weapons. Let's just dream big!

A massive THANK YOU goes out to the whole Summerjam team – you know who you are. And, as the leitmotiv of this report was MOTIVATION, we can summarize that what was quoted most was being alive, meeting people, and providing us with musical inspiration. Now, we want to know what motivates YOU, dear readers! Leave a comment to express your thoughts and maybe inspire others. Until next year‼!