Pulling into performer and press parking, you can hear the faint sounds of horn music and the smell of Jamaican food. We must be at the Ithaca Reggae Festival! First thing I see is a smaller version of the dance tent from Grassroots, transformed into all kinds of fun little stops from people painting with interesting mediums to bearded men selling strong coffee. The sun was blisteringly hot at the 12 noon hour as we set up home base under a near by tree in the beautiful Stewart Park sitting on the majestic Cayuga Lake.
First band up was Dub Apocalypse from Boston! They had Tommy from John Browns Body on drums and I couldn’t be more excited about that. Tommy gave me a copy of their new cd and wow is it great. All day in between sets, the Analog Sons featuring Alicia Aubin, the super star trombone player from Big Mean Sound Machine, and the new band taking the scene by storm, Swamp Kids played mini sets. They also took the main stage to back California great E.N Young! E.N, with quite possibly the longest set of dreadlocks I have ever seen, just took the stage by charge and played one of my most favorite sets of the day.
They conclude and my belly starts to rumble and I’m thirsty for something sweet and different. I stumble into Tonawanda locals Irie Lemonade and Kettle Corn! I got the mixed berry lemonade which was the perfect 32 oz cup of fresh blackberries, strawberries and quartered lemons, all in a giant lemonade. For a light snack I had to try the absolute habit forming kettle corn that my new friend Ruby gave me. It was so good, my brother had to go back for a second bag!!! Thanks Ruby! While on this adventure, I pass by grassroots legends, Silo Fried Chicken and their team of crazy people concocted all dark meat chicken nuggets and I have to say, that caught my eye for a potential dinner snack a little later.
Up next on the stage was Rochester’s own The Medicinals. If you haven’t checked them out, they have Dylan Savage from Giant Panda and Will McKenna on bass with a supporting cast of some gems from the Rochester music scene. Tonight though, they had a very special guest sit in on vocals and that was none other then Chacha from Mosaic Foundation. Tough act to follow there, so I look at my schedule to see who’s to come? Double Tiger that’s who!! Jay Spaker from John Brown’s Body on lead vocals, singing both originals and JBB tunes from their Firefly album, getting all the old school Grassroots family movin and groovin!
Well now I’m hungry and I think I’m ready to try Silo’s dark meat chicken nuggets. WOW! If I had to describe in one word. It was quite possibly the best plate of food I’ve had at a show ever! So good that I finished one order and went back immediately for seconds! Comes with a peach jerk sauce that was unlike any dipping sauce you are gonna get at Burger King or McDonalds; and to top it all off pickled slaw. For me, anything made pickled is the way to be. Beginning to end, I 100% suggest trying the Dark Meat Nuggets with one of the Mixed Berry Lemonades from Ruby!
Now we have another OG Grassroots performer in Kevin Kinsella coming up on the big stage, after another lovely change over set by The Analog Sons. Kevin is the founder of the bands John Brown’s Body and the 10ft Ganja Plant. He and his band brought that incredible vibe that you love from reggae music. Then, came Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad – Rochester’s favorite and a staple to Grassroots from over the years. This was my first time seeing them playing with their new guitarist, and wow what a blessed treat for the soul. Dylan Savage from the Medicinals also played with Giant Panda, so it was a double pack attack that made me happy! Last band of the night was Mykal Rose. He lived up to his reputation of being the an incredible singer and had and incredible backing band as well!
So come on by the Stewart’s park hosting the “Ithaca Reggae Festival for a day of incredible music, love and great food, come in!”
Author : Pumpkin
First 3 Photos Courtesy of Derek Clark (Thank you for your input Derek!)
All other photos by Pumpkin