Despite Mother Nature throwing all her best bad stuff at them, the Montreal International Reggae Festival soldiered on. They tried to give those dedicated fans who turned up despite the pretty much continuous rain all day the reggae music they were yearning for.
Being made of sugar and spice and everything nice I stayed away until around 9:00 when the rain had subsided. I cannot say what happened before I got there, but when I arrived the stage crew was in the process of setting up again for Montreal's own Jah Cutta and the Determination Band. During the lull DJ music by the award winning Little Thunder Sound Crew from Montreal got the groove going. The female emcee (Carrie Mullins from Toronto), who had had so much fun this weekend that she was losing her voice, of the event warned us that some of the acts' sets were going to have to be cut down because of the delays due to the weather, which is kind of a drag for the acts, organizers and fans. Couldn't be helped, though.
I felt sorry for Montreal's staple (I say that because they have been around forever) reggae act Jah Cutta. When they finally got on the stage at 9:30, it was so late that they were only able to do one number and it was marred by some microphone problems. I hope that they are invited back to next year's festival and given the opportunity to show what they can do over a whole set.
To entertain the crowd between the Jah Cutta abbreviated performance and Junior Kelly, the two emcees threw out souvenir t-shirts, hats, earrings, and rags into the crowd. Taking this opportunity to stroll around the grounds again I was pleased to see how many parents were there with their kids. From the smallest baby to preteens parents were introducing the next generation to the beauty of reggae music. I applaud them.
Just before 10 p.m. Junior Kelly from Jamaica took to the stage. Running through such songs as "It's A Tough Life", "Baby Can We Meet", "Sail Away", "Missing You", "Bass", and "Care About the Children", he was the consummate performer. Mixing up the tempo of his songs and even sticking in a slower, love song that he performed as a duet with one of his female backup singers, and really working the stage, Junior Kelly had the crowd back up dancing. It was a thoroughly enjoyable 35 minutes.
To close up the festival reggae legends Steel Pulse from the UK and Jamaica performed a high energy set. Their sound is a mixture of rock and reggae with the reggae beats mixed with plenty of good old guitar solos. Amongst others they performed their songs "Red, Gold, Black and Green", "Life Without Music", "No Weapons", "Taxi Driver", and "Chase the Summer Day". In a kind of tribute to the fans that stuck it out the band went on past the 11:30 city imposed curfew and played reggae until the crowd had its fill. A good ending to a trying (for everyone) day!
Photos by Maha Haddad