Reggae in the Desert
For the last several years, my daughter's boyfriend has been asking me, "Are you going to Reggae in the Desert?" Each time I considered it but I was afraid to brave the heat. This year, I was glad I did. I was not alone as thousands flocked to the 14th Annual Reggae in the Desert, a daylong homage to reggae music, Jamaican and island cultures.
It was a little like St. Patrick's Day. Everyone was Jamaican for a day as Jamaican pride was evident in flags, umbrellas, and assorted apparel. Vendors did brisk business selling assorted reggae, Jamaican and Bob Marley paraphernalia.
Thousands of hearty souls braved the hottest day of the year to date, to dance and sway to the reggae rhythms of some of reggae's finest musicians. Fans of each artist were thrilled and insisted their favorite should have been the headliner.
The crowd built steadily throughout the day as the festival began with DJ Ramma. Locally-formed band, Ludlow took the stage next. Fans were sure to get as close as the chain fence would allow getting a closer view and to feel the rhythms. Sister Nancy (Ophlin Russell-Meyers) followed as the crowd continued to grow. Most of the spaces in the shade began to fill up but that did not stop the hardcore fans from crowding near the fence to be right up on the action.
When Etana took the stage the crowd had grown to several thousand and people were still steadily streaming in. The music provided the background to festival goers as the browsed the apparel vendors. The festival atmosphere included a face painting clown and a dancing wizard.
Stick Figure took the stage with their unique blend of reggae and dub. The crowd continued to grow and became more and more celebratory despite the heat. Excitement reverberated throughout the crowd for Stick Figure's set. The band perfectly timed "Smokin' Love," so that it directly preceded 4:20 p.m. An artist created a painted alongside the stage as the band played.