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Review & Photos: Reggae Pon The Mountain 2011

07/12/2011 by Jan Salzman

Review & Photos: Reggae Pon The Mountain 2011

REVIEW: Reggae Pon The Mountain 2011 in Topanga, CA @ Topanga Canyon Community Center

Presented by the Topanga Canyon Community Club and Label 27’s Amit Gilad and Brooks Ellis, this year’s Reggae Pon the Mountain featured some major names in the reggae music industry… Rocky Dawuni, Rootz Underground and The Wailing Souls. A family atmosphere prevailed for this day long festival. It was bright and sunny; so many attendees brought small tents and hats and there were reminders from the MC of the day, Junor Francis, to put on sunblock.

First on my agenda was famed African reggae artist, Rocky Dawuni, who has many accreditations. Rocky hails from Ghana and is their official Ambassador of Tourism. He was also the winner of this year’s IRAWMA award for “Best African Artist”, which was given out in Port of Spain, Trinidad in May, 2011. Rocky had a magnificent 13 piece band! He opened his set with My Love, from his sophomore album “Crusade”.

His set was action packed as Rocky strutted across the stage waving the flag of Ghana, which is always in his hand. He performed several songs from “Crusade” including: Jammin Nation and In Ghana. One of my favorites was Walls Tumblin Down from his most recent album “Hymns For The Rebel Soul”, which garnered the above mentioned award. In Ghana, Rocky plays to audiences of 30,000 so this was a rare treat to be so intimate with such a great performer. He was brought back for an encore and performed Afro Roots Vibration, from his album, “Wake the Nation”.

Next up, from Kingston, Jamaica, Rootz Underground, wowed the crowd with a driving roots reggae riddim and a magnificent acrobatic performance by lead singer, Stephen Newland. This young reggae band has created quite a following among reggae lovers. They rocked the audience with favorites like Hammer, Rastaman Experience, Power to the People, Love Again and Unknown Soldier, which is from their most recent album “Gravity”. They are a very talented and handsome band (the girls love them) which spreads the vibes of the rastaman with power and expertise. They put on a most exciting show!

The headliner of the day was reggae legends, The Wailing Souls. The magnificent vocals of Winston “Pipe” Matthews and Lloyd “Bread” McDonald intertwined their harmonies masterfully. Nominated for the prestigious Grammy Award three times, this vocal duo opened their set with one of their classic songs Jah, Jah Give Us Life to Live. They chose to perform 17 songs from their vast repertoire including favorites: She Pleases Me, Things and Time, Pawn Shop (which was covered by rock icons Sublime), Firehouse Rock, Old Broom and their mega hit, Shark Attack. Truly, they are one of my all- time favorite roots reggae bands. They closed their encore with their hit Na, Na, Na, Na as the sun faded behind the mountain tops. An exhausting, excitement filled day came to a close. Infused with the magnificent music of the day I drove home listening to the Wailing Souls to keep the memory of the day’s events going a little longer.