One thing that you have to admire the Montreal International Reggae Festival for is that they make the weekend an all encompassing cultural event. The music is reggae, the artisanal goods are all of Caribbean nature and the food is all West Indian or African. They don't bring Mr. Sub or MacDonald's in as food vendors nor do they bring in bands that don't play reggae music; they just give the festival goers the opportunity to learn all about reggae music and everything around it.
I arrived at 6:30 p.m. and already there was a bigger crowd there than the previous evening. This is despite the on and off rain all day. It was spitting a little when I got there, but that was not dampening people's spirits. The band Uprising Band was onstage backing up several vocalists for their set. First up was Marvelous, an act that was announced as one for the ladies. That is due to the fact that he sings songs that are romantic in nature. He performed numbers like "How Long" and "Heartbroke" to warm applause.
Next up was a Canadian by way of Morroco female vocalist Mounia Sahar, dubbed The African Princess. She has a beautiful and distinct voice. Her short two song set was flavoured with a Roots Reggae sound. Interesting lyrics and smooth vibes. This is a woman with plenty of talent and is an artist to be watched.
A veritable Jamaican reggae music star was next to perform. Little Hero has an good vocal range and performs songs with a spiritual lyrical content. He obviously wants to be an instrument of change – positive change. Little Hero was constantly talking to the crowd inbetween songs about how tough life is in his native Jamaica is. How poverty and violence were making things tough. A couple of years back he got into a serious accident and his career was on pause for a while. Last year he made a comeback and released an album entitled "Revelation". It was the number one album reggae album of 2008 according to Billboard magazine. He ran through some of his songs like "No More War", "Prayer" and "Oh Lord".
DJ James Bond played a short set next mashing up a slew of reggae tunes. You might have previously heard DJ James Bond as he does a show every Sunday night on CKUT.
My final act of the evening was Onyan and the Burning Flames. They are a legendary soca band from Antigua that was formed in 1985. Brothers, cousins and other relatives make up the band. They came onstage and brought the energy level up 10 notches. It was now a party and a non-stop one! They played marathon songs with one running into another. Everything was done at breakneck speed. They even performed a rather unique version of A-Ha's "Take on Me" – soca style. Despite the fact that they are one of the oldest soca bands around they still play with youthful exuberance.