"It was a disaster," says Patrick "Packy" Malley when asked about last year's Midwest Reggae Fest, which he moved from Nelson Ledges to Whiskey Island. "During the hottest, driest summer on record, it rained and was cold the entire time. The overwhelming consensus is that people want the camping and swimming experience."
So Malley, who just returned from Jamaica where he took a motorcycle ride to the gravesite of the late, great reggae singer Peter Tosh and visited his 96-year-old mother, has relocated the festival to Nelson Ledges, where the 22nd Annual Midwest Reggae Fest takes place from August 9-11. He recently provided an overview of this year's line-up, which features reggae superstars such as Yellowman, Marty Dread and Culture, all of whom have performed at the Midwest Reggae Fest in the past.
DJ Carlos Culture 6-7:30 p.m.
He's from San Diego. He's a popular reggae DJ on the West Coast. He does a lot of the festivals out there. He's part of a high-powered sound system that's based in Columbus, Ohio but he's their West Coast guy. That's the thing with sound systems. If you're popular, you have multiple DJs. He does classic sets of old school reggae, and he plays the newest stuff coming out of Jamaica as well.
The Pinstripes 7:30-9
They are a super high-energy horn-based reggae band out of Cincinnati and they are relatively new. They've been picked up by Creative Artists, the booking agency out of Los Angeles. There's a lot of good buzz about these guys. They asked to be on the festival, and I checked out some videos of them. They're cool. They play high-energy ska reggae.
Flex Crew 9:30-11 p.m.
They're from Columbus and they're just one of my favorite reggae bands. They're a large reggae band that covers a lot of current reggae tunes. They have a Sunday night gig in Columbus where there are lines around the block to see them every single Sunday when they play at Skully's on High Street. They're awesome. I've known them for 20 years. I knew them before they were in the band because they were in various different bands.
Brignite Foundation is a Cleveland guy who is Jamaica guy. Everyone calls him Ras Briggy. He plays modern reggae music. He mixes it all up. He's more of a cutting-edge dancehall guy. We've been friends for decades.
Outlaws I&I 1:30-3 p.m.
They're based out of Lorain. It's the whole First Light reggae band with a different singer. Butchie B. is the singer. He's an energetic and good reggae performer. They play both original material and cover tunes.
One World Tribe 3:30-5 p.m.
They're a great band out of Erie, Pennsylvania. They're more of a world beat band. It's not traditional reggae, even though they play a lot of reggae. They also incorporate African drumming and international sound. They're an awesome band. It's a different kind of music, but the drum is the common denominator out of it. It translates well for both the world beat and reggae crowds.
Carlos Jones 5:30-7 p.m.
He's been the mainstay of Cleveland reggae for three decades at least. I think he's one of the best reggae talents in the country. The kind of reggae he plays is a throwback to '70s reggae with a conscientious message. He's not into dancehall. I would say he's the most popular artist in Cleveland. Maybe Michael Stanley is a little more popular. I love Carlos and I love his music. I love the band guys. We're all a family so to speak. In the beginning when the line-up was smaller, I didn't always include Carlos. Now that I moved to three days, I always have room for Carlos.
Blue Riddim 7:30-8:30 p.m.
They're one of the greatest American reggae bands in history. They were nominated for the very first reggae Grammy in 1982. They opened for Bob Marley I think three times. They're foundation reggae that goes back to 1968 and the beginning of reggae. They're a history of reggae when you watch that band. They're talented musicians, and they have a brand new record coming out. It should be exciting for them to perform. They should get a lot of success from the record.
Marty Dread 8:45-9:45 p.m.
He's from Hawaii. Kris Kristofferson said it best. He's said he's one of the greatest songwriters in America. Marty is really huge on the West Coast. He and I became friends years ago. I like to fly him in for the show. He's an awesome talent and super popular at the show. He's been the bandleader for Willie Nelson's band. He's very versatile. He's an awesome songwriter and a great performer. He has quite a following in Cleveland.
Yellowman 10-11 p.m. Saturday
King Yellowman! He's one of the most popular reggae artists in history. He started the whole dancehall vibe in reggae music. He has a million records out. He's an awesome entertainer. Everyone loves him. This will be his fourth time playing the festival. He started singing about controversial things in the '80s and had racy lyrics and he's funny. He brought humor into reggae with songs like "I'm Dreaming of a Yellow Christmas." I'm flying him in from Jamaica.
Gospel 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m.
I don't have a band for that yet. I've had two bands and they both cancelled. I will have gospel but I don't know if it will be a DJ or a band. Gospel is big in Jamaica. There's a spiritual side to reggae music and most people who enjoy it will enjoy this. It'll be a nice change of pace and a mix up for Sunday morning. It's nice to wake up and have some rocking gospel whether you're swimming on the beach or just waking up in your tent.
Culture featuring Kenyatta Hill 1-2:30 p.m.
They're one of the most popular reggae bands in Jamaica and the lead singer, Joseph Hill, passed away a few years ago. His son Kenyatta took over the band. It's been an interesting transition because his son has been able to pull it off. It's like the Marley kids, who are great entertainers. They played the festival three years and they were really good.
The Ark Band 3:30-5:30 p.m.
They're from St. Lucia and I've known them for 25 years. The two brothers in the band call themselves the Riddim Twins. They're one of the most solid bass and drum cores in reggae. They're a powerhouse of reggae. They played all over the United States and they're awesome.