Reggae in the Desert, one of the most successful music festivals in Las Vegas, continues to spotlight national reggae acts. The daylong music festival, in its 11th year, will take place on Saturday, June 16 from 12 noon till 11pm at the Clark County Government Center, 500 S. Grand Central Parkway. Kymani Marley, Third World, Israel Vibrations, Tribal Seeds, J Boog, Fiji, Pato Banton and Fortunate Youth round out this year’s impressive lineup.
Kymani Marley’s success began in the ’90s when he lit the torch and continued on with the legacy his father, legend Bob Marley, left behind. He teamed up with Pras of the Fugees and recorded a rendition of Eddy Grant’s “Electric Avenue,” making this a defining moment of Marley’s career. Marley has released notable albums such as 1999’s The Journey, which reached #7 on the Billboard Reggae Album Charts, and his 2001 Grammy-nominated album Many More Roads. In 2007, Marley followed up with Radio, taking the #1 spot on the Billboard Reggae Album Charts. That same year, Marley opened for Van Halen’s North American Tour. Marley has collaborated with artists such as Mya, Beenie Man, Buju Banton, Mr. Vegas, Young Buck, Afu-Ra and more. Marley’s music reflects his appreciation for a mix of genres like world music, hip-hop, blues, rock and a grass roots sound with his loyalty to his Jamaican culture.
Third World is one of the longest-lived reggae bands of all time. The group began their career in the early ’70s playing around the Kingston club scene, eventually making a name for themselves with their creative mix of R&B, funk, pop, rock, dancehall and rap. In 1974, Third World joined Bob Marley & the Wailers as an opening act on their European tour. More success came with a cover of The Abyssinian’s classic “Satta Massagana” and the release of their 1977 album 96° in the Shade. Third World produced more hits including their cover of the O’Jays’ “Now That We Found Love” and songs like “Cool Meditation,” “Dancing on the Floor (Hooked on Love),” “Try Jah Love,” and “Forbidden Love.” In 2003 Third World celebrated their 25th anniversary, and with their 2011 album Patriots, it is evident that the group will continue to make music for years to come.
Israel Vibrations got their start more than two decades ago when members Cicil “Skelly” Spence, Lascelle “Wiss” Bulgin and Albert “Apple Gabriel” Craig met as children when the three were placed at the Mona Rehabilitation Center in Jamaica. Regardless of their illnesses, the trio found strength in songwriting and singing, eventually pursuing a music career with the support and encouragement of the local community. Israel Vibrations’ 1976 Same Song brought them success and was followed with albums such as On the Rock and Free to Move, both of which reached #1 on the CMJ New World Charts. Now, moving forward as a duo, Spence and Bulgin continue to bring positive vibes with their music, redefining “Roots Reggae” for the new age.
Tribal Seeds is a rock reggae group started by brothers Steven Rene Jacobo and Tony-Ray Jacobo from Southern Calif. Influenced by Bob Marley, Steel Pulse and Midnight, the group brings a rock vibe to classic roots style reggae. Tribal Seeds’ first two albums, 2008’s Tribal Seeds and 2009’s The Harvest, were both a part of iTunes’ “Best Of” list in the Reggae genre. The Harvest also debuted at #5 on the Billboard Reggae Charts. In 2008, Tribal Seeds was awarded the “Best World Music” title at the San Diego Music Awards. The band’s 2011 EP Soundwaves peaked at #2 on the Billboard Reggae Charts. Tribal Seeds has shared the stage with artists including MGMT, Cee Lo Green, Jason Mraz, Sublime with Rome, Taking Back Sunday, O.A.R., Stephen Marley and SOJA. Tribal Seed’s reintroduction of Roots Rock Reggae to the music groups makes the band stylistically unique to others.
J Boog was forever changed when his sister brought home a Bob Marley song book when they were kids. Growing up in the rough streets of Compton, Calif., J Boog was inspired to stay off the streets and aimed to launch a successful music career. In 2006, J Boog moved to Hawaii to work on developing his skill and released his debut album Hear Me Now, eventually joining independent record label Wash House Music in 2007. In 2011 J Boog’s album Back Yard Boogie featured artists like Peeta Morgan of Morgan Heritage, Tarrus Rile, Fiji and Jacob Hemphill of SOJA. This young artist’s sound is a combination of authentic island music and genuine reggae, and with the common theme of love in his writing, it is clear that his music truly comes from the heart.
Fiji is one of the top-selling Pacific artists of this time. Also known as George Veikoso, Fiji made his debut in 1994 with the album Evolution. He followed it up with 1997’s Born & Raised, winning Hawaii Academy of Record Arts’ Na Hoku Hanohano Awards for Male Vocalist of the Year and Favorite Entertainer of the Year. Since then, Fiji has released albums such as Grattitude, Le Loup, Transition and The Glue Hotel Tapes. With a blend of classic reggae, hip-hop, R&B and jazz, Fiji performs with a great amount of energy and an exotic sound that sets him apart.
Pato Banton is a Grammy-nominated artist, getting his start as the number one MC in Birmingham. With collaborations on songs like UB40’s “Hip-Hop Lyrical Robot” and “King Step” and Don Christie’s “Allo Tosh Got a Toshiba,” which reached #3 in the Independent Reggae Charts, a number of successful projects were launched with Fashion Records, Greensleeves and Island Records. Banton’s 1986 debut album Mad Professor Captures Pato Banton is regarded as an all-time reggae classic. Banton later followed up with Never Give In! and scored hits with songs like “Absolute Perfection,” “Don’t Sniff Coke,” “Handsworth Riot,” “Gwarn” and “Settle Satan.” His biggest success came when he recorded a cover of Eddy Grant’s “Baby Come Back” with Ali and Robin Campbell of UB40. More collaborative hit songs came soon after like “Bubbling Hot” with Ranking Roger and a reggae remix of “This Cowboy” with pop icon Sting. Banton has graced the stage with Ziggy Marley & the Melody Makers, Burning Spear, Third World, Steel Pulse, Dennis Brown and Black Uhuru. With his most recent album, Destination Paradise, and the formation of a new band The Now Generation, Banton continues his aim to spread a spiritual message through his music.
Fortunate Youth is a collaboration of South Bay reggae musicians who originally came from various bands. Upon touring, the group’s 2011 album Irie State of Mind climbed to #2 on the iTunes Reggae Charts and peaked at #13 on the Billboard Top 100 Reggae Albums. Fortunate Youth has shared the stage with groups like Groundation, The Abyssinians, Tribal Seeds, Sashamon, Toots & the Maytals, The Wailers, Katchafire, Dirty Heads, Natural Vibrations and more. With the high energy they present on stage, Fortunate Youth is sure leave audiences feeling exhilarated.
Blankets for lawn seating are permitted as well as one unopened/factory sealed bottle of water per person. Vendors in the Caribbean Islands Vendor Village will have Reggae- and Caribbean-style items, exhibits, food and beverages, as well as other fare. Domestic and imported beers will be available. ATMs are now available on site.
Sponsors include Southern NV Toyota Dealers Association, Brio Tuscan Grille, Miller Lite, Neon, Hot 97.5 KVEG, 97.1 The Point, The CW Las Vegas, My LVTV, and Insert Coins Videolounge Gamebar.
Doors open at noon and the event concludes at 11 p.m. Tickets are on sale now and are $25 in advance, $30 the day of the show. VIP packages are $60 in advance and include: an event t-shirt, event poster, artist meet n greet, air conditioned VIP Lounge with free wine tasting. Only cash is accepted at the door for tickets on the day of the show. Children ages five (5) or younger are free. All seats are general admission and available on a first-come, first served basis. To purchase tickets, visit www.ticketfly.com. For a complete list of performance times and additional information, visit the event website at www.reggaeinthedesert.com.