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Reggae Jam 2023 - Festival Report | Part II

08/05/2023 by Gardy Stein

Reggae Jam 2023 - Festival Report | Part II

Welcome to the Reggae Jam Festival 2023! Once again, people with the best taste in music have arrived from near and far to come together in unity and celebrate Reggae and its community for the days ahead. The trip to Bersenbrück is always a highlight of the summer, and nothing, really nothing can stop us from making this weekend happen - no amount of rain or wind or other problems. We are on site now, the sun is shining for the time being, and we are looking forward to presenting you the festival runnings – right here in the festival report, in the photo galleries, and on our social media channels. Put on your gumboots and enjoy PART II of our report!


Saturday, August 5th 2023

One thing about festivals, you never get enough sleep. But, hey, life is short, and to live it to the fullest, we have to sacrifice – it's either sufficient rest or exciting encounters and experiences. There's no way we choose to skip the latter, so waking up is a challenge on this second day of Reggae Jam 2023. Taking a page out of Uwe Banton's book (a calm artist who stands like a rock in the surf – coincidentally the title of a song he has with Ganjaman, called Fels In Der Brandung), we start the day unhurriedly, and here's what he said about art yesterday: "Art is simply the creative way of our souls to express ourselves, to express how we feel, and so to create things which can be both material and immaterial. Art always has a message, too, and is the foundation of culture."

With a little delay, we reach the main stage area to witness Ganjaman and the Next Generation Family in full effect: Suma Lee Berlinger on bass, Mathias Schwendtner on drums, Paul Krackowizer on drums, Jan Geuer on percussion and vocals and Daniel Rickler on guitar. With tracks like Pauken & Trompeten ('Kettledrum & Trumpet'), Wir Gehen Diesen Weg ('We Trod This Path') or Nur Einmal ('Only Once'), Ganjaman brings his convictions across, and both his lyrics and the little speeches he holds in between the songs give me goosebumps because what he says is so true. "We humans are so incredibly intelligent, we create so many things, how can it be that there is still war in this world? How can it be that we are so rich and there is still hunger? This is the reason why I make music, not only to dance with you, but to feed your belly, your heart… Make sure you are vigilant ybout your thoughts, your words – we have so many possibilities to do good, every day!"

His welcoming attitude is what makes this traditional opening so special, along with the snacks that are now shared among the crowd and the guest artists that join Ganjaman on the mic. Today, we hear Jon Moon, Fyah T and Chaski, whose brother Inti is getting ready to perform over at…  

The two brothers who are among the founding members of Cologne-based band Memoria are both on a solo mission at the moment. While Chaski informed us minutes ago that his new album Fyah Y Fuego is released today, Inti and his Reggae Rockers present pieces of their debut album Inti Loyalty and Ungrateful, for instance. He also takes time to acknowledge the roots of his craft, saying "Thank you, Jamaica, for Reggae music and the inspiration!"

At the end of his set, his brother Chaski steps up once more, and together they perform Cuanto Mas, a piece from his new album mentioned above (both releases were mastered by Ganjaman, by the way, who called this performance "one of his highlights of this year's Reggae Jam").

The Next Generation Family band is busy today. Having performed with Ganjaman before, they now play the backings for Chester Miller, who decided to livicate his show to the late Dennis Brown, it seems. "I could play Dennis Brown until 2 in the morning! I'm not leaving this stage, there's too much in his catalogue… 500 albums and counting!" While this might be a bit exaggerated (releases or vinyl records, yes, but albums?), Brown's legacy is definitely one of the most important in Reggae music, and Chester Miller has such a remarkable vocal similarity to him that his performance is a joy to follow. With songs like Wolf And Leopards, Should I or Stop The Fussing And Fighting on the wicked Real Rock riddim, he takes us on a journey back to that sweet old-school Reggae music, and especially the track Here I Come is fervently cheered by the audience. Presenting some of his own songs at the end of his set, Chester tells us: "I feel good and honored to be here. This is my first time in Europe, and I can feel the energy, I can feel the love, it's the frequency! When people unite and feel the same flow, we can move mountains!"  

When I check my mobile for the time, it says 4:20, making me smile because this number is so honored all around me. On stage, a different vibe is unfolding, as the six members of the New York Ska Jazz Ensemble invade us with a crazy mix of, well, Ska and Jazz. Andy Mittoo on keys, Kevin "KB" Batchelor on trumpet, Karl Wright on drums, Simone Amodeo on guitar, Mark Damon on bass and Rocksteady Freddy on sax, with all of them on vocals, announce that "we'll bring you to New York, where this band started in 1994". They open with some of their original compositions (e.g. Joelle, Buttah, Arachnid or Elegy) and then play their very own version of standards like Boogie Stop Shuffle, Bob Marley's Love And Affection or Dandy Livingstone's A Message To You Rudy. A special feature of their show is the extended soli the instrumentalists play, giving each their spot but still communicating with the whole band (such as the duet played between Freddy and Kevin on flute and trumpet), and the good vibes spread to the crowd. Standing under that big ole tree, I'm watching a couple dancing a choreo together in front of the stage, and then discover a garland hanging from one of the branches, saying "Ting Nice" – yes, indeed!

With a song called Rise And Shine, Jamaican artist Keith Powell aka Roughhouse welcomes us to his set. He started out as a bass player at the tender age of 12 and, after relocating to Germany at 24, discovered his singing voice which he has developed ever since. After Love Divine in 2019 and Peace And Inspiration in 2020, he now has a new publication ready - he's the second artist who celebrates this occassion with us: "You are part of my album release, which is today. It's called Changes, and I'll share the first song called Man From Alkebulan with you!" After performing said song, he explains that 'Alkebulan' is the original name for the African continent, and that we are thus all men and women from Alkebulan. Teachings!

He then jumps into the Dancehall section of his set, powerfully supported by a band that displays an exciting style mix: while drummer Raul Pfeffer sports a simple white T-Shirt and the keyboarder wears cap and hoodie, guitarist Rudy Valentino looks like a rocker, one of the backing vocalists, June Cole, is dressed very elegantly in black and green, the other (who also plays the flute) gravitates more to an individual hippie style, and the bassie looks most flashy with his bandana and brightly printed tracking suit. Musically, they harmonize perfectly, and Roughhouse now calls out two guests, Anthony Locks and DJ Little Pinch, each performing one track. Ending his show with some Ska vibes (Remember Those Days and Nice Up Di Dance) and the imploring us to Support Your Friends, he promises to be back on stage with Jamaica Papa Curvin later and leaves to well-deserved applause.

One of my highlights in 2015, Meta Dia is eagerly awaited again – not by me alone! The slim man with the long dreads has a charismatic stage presence, radiating joy, confidence and optimism, expressed in tracks like Cornerstone and Zion Stereo. "It's a pleasure and honor to be here, sharing this vibration!", the singer beams, and you can feel that he means it. His vocal delivery is equally authentic, and I let myself fall into the beautiful Hira, meditatively delivered by the European version of the Cornerstones (consisting of Saymon on drums, Kay on bass, Rakesh and Randy on keyboard, Dinesh on drums and sound engineer Recardo). Meta explains that Hira is the name of the mountain cave north of Mecca where Prophet Mohammed received his first revelation. Interesting!

Despite the increasing wind and occasional raindrops, the people in the audience seem to be as transfixed as I am, unable to pull away from the musical fascination of songs like Conqueror or Two Pockets. Thank you, Meta, for this gem of a memory!

Host D-Flame announces the next act by describing how important a role he played for the development of the Reggae music scene in Germany, bringing Jamaican artists over here on stage and supporting upcoming talents. Having lived in Jamaica for the last few years, he is now back to say farewell to his fans and finally retire: Jamaica Papa Curvin. Backed by the same musicians as Roughhouse (with the addition of Anthony Locks on drums and Roughhouse himself on bass), he dives deep into his catalogue, presenting songs like No Worry, World Is Closing In and Bow Down while his son Pat waves the red, gold and green flag next to him.

"We have to treat our world with love, because it is our mother and father!"
he addresses our most pressing environmental issues, and even has something to say about the tree: "I remember this big tree from many years ago! Big up Sheriff for bringing Reggae music to Bersenbrück!" Before he leaves, he expresses his gratitude for all those listening to his music and explains that it's now time for him to step down from the stage and move on to the next level. A blessed life's eve to you, Curvin Merchant!


Rain has started to fall again during the previous set, but the festival visitors stand their ground undeterred. The scene even looks more colorful now with open umbrellas and raincoats, and when Jahneration step out and start with a rock-heavy intro, the vibes are on. Songs like Danger, Let Me Know or Only Good Vibes are in their repertoire, and during the latter, singer Theophile Chalamon (or was it Augustin Herremann?) plays a drumpad. The humid air, steam and smoke from the crowd as well as the bright lights create a splendid effect on stage – artistic, I am tempted to say.

When they send out greetings to compatriot Naâman with their combination tune Control Your Tempa, I realize my energy levels run low and decide it's time for some food. The choice is a hard one, as the festival stalls offer a wide variety of dishes, and I opt for Ava's African cuisine, purchasing a fine dish of couscous and spinach. What was your favorite food stand at this year's Reggae Jam? Leave a comment below…

Thus replenished, I return to the stage and have to look twice to recognize the artist on it: Cali P, who always braided his locks into impressive hairstyles, has obviously parted ways with his dreads, and his new look is stunning! He starts with a fast-paced Ganja tune called Sweet Green, shifting gears with the much slower Innit next, and bringing a whole different flavor again with the subsequent Bless We, a flirt with Afrobeats. The band (consisting of Rekesh Dukaloo and Randy on keys, Kay Hasselbaink on bass, Gregory Pataca on drums and Dinesh Badri on guitar) plays tight and is obviously a family thing, as Cali P's father Jean Pierre Nanon aka Jah Ka plays percussion. He is from Guadeloupe, a small island in the Lesser Antilles, and his son introduces both the country and its Creole language in a track called Ayen Pa Chanje, a feature with Tiwony, Daddy Mory, Pompis, Lord Kossito and Tairo – since none of them is here, their voices are simply substituted by the audience! The sing-along is continued with a cover of Pheelz' Finesse as well as Cali P's well-known track Baddest, which gets a big forward from the crowd and is pulled up instantly. Before he leaves, the singer tells us that he is at this stage for the second time ever and that he is grateful for every one of us coming despite the rain.

Asking him for his take on art when I meet him later on, he replies: "There are so many different ways of art, and I respect every art, every artist, I find it really beautiful. I think that as a musician, you are an artist, you make art, I believe that what we do, the music that we do, is also a form of art, for the ears, for the heart, so, as a musician I am an artist for sure. That's why it is very important for me, the visuals that go together with the music, and I want to take more care of that also in the future."

There's still rain, and I take a break from standing in it, preferring to get some writing done. On stage, Junior Marvin & The Legendary Wailers play a selection of Marley covers including Rebel Music, Stir It Up, No Woman No Cry, Exodus and Could You Be Loved. The band name is a bit misleading, as the only band member that played with Bob Marley and the Wailers is Junior Marvin himself - imagine the stories this man can tell! Their performance draws its appeal from the beauty of the originals covered (and we have to be grateful that Junior Marvin carries on the legacy!), but neither the band nor the energy brought across is as tight as the Wailers in Marley's times.

Taking advantage of the presence of Reggae Jam's "vice head" Joanna Anastassiou-Brix backstage, I ask her for the name of the wood artist who did all those great pieces all around the festival. She says they come from several craftsmen, one of them the intern-turned-art-director Mario Kostka. He carved the red-gold-green poles that spell Reggae Jam, and he also coordinated the installation of the other art pieces. The hand with the piece sign between the two stages was created by René Ziemann Holzkopp from Berlin; he also did the owl, the frog and the face in the root at the Urban Art Riverside Stage (more about that in tomorrow's report). To make the internationalism complete, the huge lion on the backstage wall as well as the Reggae Jam motorbike mascot were crafted by Italian artist Luigi, a friend of Sheriff. So much to discover indeed!  

In contrast to the previous act, the artist on the green stage has my full attention from A to Z: Johnny Osbourne, at 75 years of age, is "kicking it strong",  as he himself says. "Me deya from the '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, and in the new millennium, you done know, right now me haffi say roots rock rub-a-dub reggae, seen, no bluff, no carbon stuff. Are you ready?" Showering us with blessings of words and riddim, he sings milestones like What A Lala (Stalag), Can't Find A Reason (Taxi), Truth & Rights (Take A Ride) and Ice Cream Love (He Prayed). During the latter two, he invites Lone Ranger on stage, another Jamaican veteran who brings his original ragamuffin deejay style to the place. Boom! The two of them visibly enjoy what they do, and they can rely on a great backing band, Homegrown from France. While I can't tell you all members (yet), I know for sure that it's Xavier "Kubix" Begue on guitar and Laurent Albertini on bass. The beautiful lightshow invites us to get lost in the equally beautiful Going To Church, but during the next song, Mr. Osbourne kindles the movement again, saying goodbye to the crowd with a beaming smile and a farewell song and a lot of "bedebyebidibididibye"...

How many highlights can a day have? Cause, this artist right here is definitely one of them: Glen Washington deya! His songs are like old friends that came to party with us – cheers to Jah Glory, More Time, and One Of These Days! "It's been a long time coming, but I'm here now!" he calls out, announcing Kindness For Weakness thus: "the next one is dedicated to all the lovers in the place. And I will consider all German people lovers!" During the subsequent Number One Girl, he introduces background vocalist Jacky White and delivers a sweet duet called Moonlight Lover, both vocally and as sexy choreo. Grab a dancing partner now!

Ok, he did it. When talking about Reggae Jam 2023, his crazy encounter with the "Tree of Life" in the monastery yard in Bersenbrück will dominate most conversations. Maad, Sick, Mr. Vegas! Starting his set innocently enough with DJ Skip and Marley's Natural Mystic, the expected fireworks of Dancehall hits (Heads High, Nike Air, Long Time and Sweet Jamaica) and four sexy dancers mark Mr. Vegas' performance, but he writes history with the anthem I Am Blessed (starting at around 10:50:00 in the Soundbwoy TV live stream of Day 2 in case you wanna watch). Descending into the crowd first, singing with his fans, he makes his way resolutely to that big beech tree, climbs on one of its branches and says: "This is the tree of life. This is the tree of life! I been coming here so many years and I wanted to do this all this time!" and continues the song. We are blessed indeed to witness such a creative and memorable performance! 


The burning final of this day 2 is "Da Fyah Man" aka King Shango aka Capleton. Filled with a rush of adrenaline from that tree-of-life-blessing we just had, the energy is on despite the late hour. Halfway through his show, Capleton asks the audience to put both hands up for "good over evil, life over death", and not only do they lift their hands, but even fire torches! Accompanied by dynamic movements and crowd interaction, the Fyah King delivers well-known singles like That Day Will Come, Jah Jah City, Rocky Road and One By One, dashes through a fine '90s-medley and arrives at the powerful Who I Am which many (including me) sing along to, loudly.

What a day! While one of my friends wants to continue partying with Roots Plague Soundsystem at the Dub Hangar, another is on her way to the Dancehall to catch the last hour of Barney Millah's slot. My legs refuse the short stroll and carry me to bed instead, so I'm not exactly an eye witness of tonight's happenings, but I hear it's been great – and peaceful!

Sunday, August 6th 2023

Waking up to brilliant sunshine, realization hits that this is the last festival day already. Time has its own rules on a weekend like this, and while we seem to have so much of it on arrival day, it just flies past way too quick. Anyway, we still have the whole day ahead of us, so let's make the most of it – happy Independence Day, Jamaica!

Loud and clear! Waking up to the sound of the Sunday morning set of Sheriff's Soundpatrol is a new experience. With only 200 or so metres in linear distance to the stage, it's almost as if we'd be sitting next to it, and we have a relaxed breakfast with the voices of Ganjaman, Dr. Ring Ding and friends, who hold a little live session, obviously. It sounds like fun!

At 1:30pm, the Irie Nation Roots Connection takes over. The project is an extension from the Sofa Connection, a conglomeration of musicians around Diedel "YardArt" Klöver and Sista Gracy as well as Catrin Groth (sax), Tom Bennecke (guitar), Piet Abele (keys), Moses Christoph (percussion) and Hene Marheineke (drums). Special guests today are Dr. Ring Ding, Sebastian Sturm and the Jamaican vocal trio KushArt. Their joyful mix of Reggae, Ska, Rocksteady and Jazz are a perfect kickstart into this Sunday! Asking Sista Gracy later what art means to her, she says: "For me, art is freedom. I love it, when you can put out whatever you have inside, I think that's art. From your heart, you do art!"

Since I seem to have missed a whole lot of cool runnings over here yesterday (there was a spectacular fire show with Dracarys Hueter as well as some wicked live action with Commander Messiah, Kigwa, Anthony Locks and others), I opt to pass the Urban Art Riverside Stage before entering the main area. Over here, the Twenty4Seven Reggae band featuring DJ Irie Vibe from Hamburg are in full swing, and while it's not full, the people who did show up are having a good time: sitting on the Hase riverbank, juggling sticks and balls or simply dancing along to the music. Up next are more familiar faces, the Sleng Tang band (also from Hamburg) featuring Nellsen, Luke Nuk'em and special surprise guest Dub-Ill-You from the band I-Fire. Niceness!

Also, I use the time here to take a closer look at the artwork all around. It's not only the wooden pieces mentioned earlier, but also several huge graffiti screens, palm trees and a selfie frame shaped like a Trabant (the ex-GDR's trademark car). Taken together, all these features upgrade the area immensely, and here's some background info for those who are interested: Micha, Bene aka MC Shonan and Socarilla from Cologne's Sun Fire Sound have been running the Riverside Disco for years, and this year is the first time they teamed up with the creatives from the YAAM and Urban Art Berlin. While Dennis is responsible for the stage program, Marvin and Hendrik prepared the graffiti screens and other artistic hotspots such as the swing-a-ling car behind the main entrance. Also part of their team are Anne (who runs the Urban Art Bar) and Bax, who stranded in Berlin as a refugee from Gambia a couple of years back and has found a new home at the YAAM. Good people this!

Hurrying over to the main stage to catch at least the end of Nattali Rize, we arrive to the sounds of her intense One Nation song, delivered acoustically with swelling participation of the band (Duke on guitar, Sparrow on bass, Yusaku on keys and Tash on drums). The frontwoman (the red stage is female-dominated today, as four of the six slots here are reserved for the queens!) then takes place behind a djembe for an extended drum session before delivering her last song, Rebel Frequency, which has oh so true lyrics (please check it out!). Nattali then tells us that she's available at the Riddim tent Meet & Greet in an hour, saying "let's create memories together", and then descends into the photo pit to shake hands and take pictures with her fans.


With his short performance at the HamCan Afterparty last Saturday still fresh in my memory, it's nice to see Andrew Tosh a bit longer today – and with live band! The Next Generation Family back him, and their smooth sound is perfect for the Peter Tosh covers his son now delivers. Coming In Hot, African and Downpressor Man are among the songs he thus presents, and the audience appreciates every one of them with cheers and waving flags (one of them even says the singers name!). Andrew Tosh ends with the herb anthem Legalize It, singing together with the people and sending out a "Byebye, until we meet again!" as farewell.

Introducing the next artist as "a wonderful empress with powerful and righteous lyrics", D-Flame presents Mo'Kalamity, a singer from Cape Verde who grew up in Paris. When The Wizards, her backing band, starts to play, a random encounter backstage suddenly makes sense: I've passed flutist Yann Solo earlier, wondering why he plays flute in a corner. He was just warming up! The other band members are Sugar and Kae on guitar, Muctaru on keyboard, Mano on drums, Jesus on bass and sound engineer Timour, and when Mo'Kalamity steps out to their intro, it is a wow moment – such a beautiful style, such a strong presence! Vocally, it takes the first few songs before she unfolds her full potential, but the second half of her show is pure fire. Songs like Cima Vento, Strange Thing, Jah Name and Frontline convince us of their talent and are a pleasant fusion of Reggae, complex African rhythms, intricate guitar melodies and that dominant transverse flute. A very special Reggae Jam experience!

Meeting the artist backstage later to thank her for her show and ask for her art quote, she says: "Art for me is everything! It's your expression, it's your self. Just be as you are, and if you have something to say, you can express it, that's what art means for me. It's freedom, you can create and convey emotions, messages, visions, and maybe just feelings also."

Turning to the "House of Riddim stage", as Ganjaman calls it, the moderator remarks that "we can't even says how many hours and days this band already spent on this stage". They are now playing with Rekall, an artist from Austria, who starts with the song Lion Army and then takes us through his set with that cute Austrian accent of his. While the first part of it is Reggae-ish (Good Vibes and the very personal Better Must Come), halfway through he raises the heat with a Dancehall segment.

Talking about his motivation for doing his art, he lets us know that people told him not to waste his vocal talent on Reggae music, as he won't be able to earn money with it. He insists: "But I don't want to earn money, all I want to reach is people!"

Reaching the people is something that this Jamaican singer achieved as well: Jaz Elise! Her debut album The Golden Hour got raving reviews, and while she hasn't released much, the songs she does bring out are well-produced, catchy and innovative. Quality over quantity! My first thought when she steps out is: "Wow, she looks sexy!", my second, "How many mothers and grandmothers will be asked to crochet a similar dress?" The one the singer is wearing was made by @marabelle.swimwear, styling done by @shampagnex – shout-out to our readers who appreciate such details!

Back to the music: Jaz Elise takes us on a joyful ride through Grateful and Rock & Groove, then addresses us: "Are you having a good time? Well, you're gonna have a better time now, but we have to tell all people who are outside to come inside cause Jaz Elise de pon di stage! Here's how we do it: Tune iiiiiin…". A short medley of Reggae classics ensues, and when she comes back to her own pieces after that, the vibes are high. For You, her debut single, the slower Stay Strong and her newest release Rice & Peas show the artist's versatility, and she has definitely won some new fans during the last hour.


Before giving it over to the next artist, moderator D-Flame unrolls a Jamaican flag and shouts "Happy Independence!" into the crowd. The 61st anniversary of Jamaica's independence from British Colonial rule is celebrated with a Grand Gala at the National Stadium on the island, a spectacular event including military parades and the prime minister during which Morgan Heritage received the Reggae Icon Award (there's a livestream for that in case you want to watch).

Back in the here and now, it's time for an artist who rolls out for the first time since 13 years: Natty King! I find myself back under the tree in the crowd (trust me, the festival experience is best among those smiling, dancing people who have assembled to enjoy this music; it's an energy thing hard to describe), listening to the skilled instrumental delivery and the artist's voice singing about Trees – next to art the common theme of this report. Response is greatest with his well-known tracks Guns To Town or High Grade. Before he leaves, he expresses his appreciation to all who've supported him on his journey and brought him here: "I want to take time out Bless up some people close to my heart, bless up Danny from World-A-Reggae, bless up Sheriff, seen, bless up Reggaeville and all media that is here, the band on stage House of Riddim… bless up all family, the whole squad, and you, I love you!" Respect and manners!

A big shout-out goes out to the backstage catering team that is working hard all day to provide food and drinks for the artists, the medias and the helpers that make this festival happen. Grabbing a plate with the fruits of their labor, I enjoy a rare break to the melodic voice of Raymond Wright, a Jamaican singer who resides in Italy since 2001. He is here with a band from there, the Sound Rebels, as I later read in the live stream chat (thank you, user chess funk!).

Spotting Anthony Locks next to me, I ask him to add his voice to the art quotes, and he states: "I consider myself a piece of art, meaning I have a sound. Art is an original thing, it's impulsive, so whatever you feel, how it comes to mind, you just let it out." Let it out, people, whatever art or craft you wish to try!

Announced as "Mister Reality" by Dr. Ring Ding, we welcome Admiral Tibet to the notes of his tune Time Is So Serious, giving thanks to the Most High for the inspiration and life. The following minutes are a joyride through the tunes and riddims many of us were reggaelized with, such as Babylon War (on the Full Up riddim), Couldn't Believe It (on the African Beat riddim), Don't Try To Dis Me (on the Cherry Oh riddim), Informer (on the Love In The House aka Just Friends riddim), Terrorist and others. Ooooh what a sweet sensation!


Women's power once more! The great Tanya Stephens steps out to the notes of It's A Pity, just to switch into her Joyride version Yuh Nuh Ready Fi Dis Yet, then hailing the people and sending a shout-out to Admiral Tibet. Boom Wuk is next, followed by the same jesting she did during her Summerjam show (read our Summerjam Festival Report pt. 2 for that bit), but here she adds a very important information: "The truth is, it really doesn't matter what size the dingdong is. The important thing is that you stimulate the right muscle, and that's the brain. So if you stimulate the brain, everything else will follow." Word!

The dancing mood is on with her deliveries of What's Your Story, Can't Breathe and Not Today, and she makes sure she chats with the audience in between to express her appreciation, her gratitude of being here and her self-confidence as a woman in this business. After the full delivery of It's A Pity, it's time for the queen Marcia Griffiths, who steps out on stage with a beaming smile. Royalty! She starts with Bob Marley's Mellow Mood (for those who don't know, she was a member of the I-Threes, the Wailers' backing singers), sending musical respects to compatriots Beres Hammond and Toots & The Maytals, too. Of course her own songs are the focal point of her performance, and so we get to enjoy beautiful tunes like I Shall Sing, Dreamland and Closer To You, professionally backed by musicians whose names I still have to find out. Reaching the end of her set, she calls out Tanya Stephens once more, and for the final One Love, the two of them are joined by Jacky and Glen Washington. Tanya then grabs Sheriff's hand and pulls him on stage for the grand finale, and with the words "Germany, isch liebe disch!" and "Happy Independence Day, Jamaica!" she waves her farewell. Thank you, ladies! This was definitely one of my highlights of the day.
Starting strong with Freedom Fighter, World A Reggae Music and Good Life, the audience now is exposed to the infectious energy of Anthony B. The performer doesn't disappoint - I have seen him many times already, but it's always a joyful experience, especially when he plays with pros like the House of Riddim band. Accordingly, the reaction from the crowd is lit: they request an instant pull-up for Waterpumpee and wave and jump along with Anthony to his signature dance moves during one of his final songs, Real Warrior. On my way to our workstation, I hear him singing I Wanna Know What Love Is, asking my colleague Björn if he knows who sings the original; he does, it's Foreigner.


The final concert of the day (and of the festival!) is reserved for another master of his craft: Tarrus Riley, who is on summer tour with Dean Fraser and his Blak Soil band. They start out with the Jamaican National Anthem today, letting it flow into Love's Contagious, followed by many more of Tarrus' hit songs, and it's just pure bliss standing here, letting his voice and the band's music wash over me. Special highlights of his show are Superman, during which Mr. Riley stresses every word to make sure he's understood, the anthem One Drop, which makes everyone jump up, and the powerful Wildfire. Protect me people, Jah!

"Reggae Jam, it's all about togetherness and unity!" the singer affirms before delivering the second part of his set, including Don't Come Back and She's Royal, to which people sing along loudly all around us. We couldn't have asked for a better closing of this year's edition of the Reggae Jam Festival!

Wow, wow, wow. My head is humming with all the experiences to be processed, and I'm certainly not the only one. On stage, Sheriff just picked up the mic to thank everybody involved to make this event happen, and as always he tells us some details that might otherwise go unnoticed: 12 truckloads od sludge had to be transported from the area, and 130 tons of wood chips were strewn on the muddy ground so we could have dry feet. Big applause for that! "I thanked you for your patience, but I want to thank the whole team, too, which has been working since two weeks. They are exhausted now, but happy. Look at them – their eyes are tired, but beaming!" Another big round of applause, and then our attention turns to the Green Stage once more where the Bersenbrück marching band Rote Heide plays their traditional closing performance. As expected, the festival ends with a polonaise around the "tree of life", and with this, it's over.

Thank you, Bernd "Sheriff" Lagemann and team, for another great edition of the Reggae Jam Festival with many highlights - and not one cancellation, all artists arrived safe and sang for us! There are so many more people who should be mentioned for their contribution to the festival… Vir2al FX for instance, who created the video content, and the Soundbwoy TV crew, who brought the live stream to us, the sound engineers, the technicians, the camera men and women, the kitchen staff, all vendors and DJs and Soundsystems on the diverse spots this festival had to offer. A special shout-out goes out to my Reggaeville team, as it is always so much fun to work with you: Julian, Björn, Rune, Horo, Ellen, Munchy, Alex, u laaaarge! See y'all next year, and until then KEEP THE ART ALIVE!