"A massive crowd at the whole festival, maybe the biggest I've ever seen," (Steve Barrow / Blood and Fire crew)
Yush! Summerjam 1999 was magic! We believe the festival now is the biggest European Reggae Festival. More than 20.000 people from all over Europe came to Cologne this year! The place was so awfully crowded but the atmosphere was fantastic, the good vibes were everywhere, the people friendly, the sound good, the weather fantastic and the organisation quite good. Of course there were still a lot of problems like the parking situation and the cancellation of various artists, but all in all the festival was great!
On Friday the festival started with the announcement of Dennis Brown's death. This didn't have much effect on the vibes during the concert. Almost every band paid tribute to his death in words or in songs.
The very first act on the mainstage was the German group Umoya. They played typical roots-reggae. After Latin HipHop by Mangu came the local hero Gentleman and the Killin Riddim Section, he brought us a great show in his famous Patois-toasting style. This was somehow the real opening of the festival! With the German HipHop Band Freundeskreis and AfroPop Queen Khadja Nin the mainstage program ended at 23:00h.
Parallel in the tentstage the sound was disgusting, the first two concerts
(6th Revelation and Zion Train) were awfully mixed.
Zion Train did a very good Dub Sound wich was very spheric and the
singer did amazing things with her voice. But the Sound was really a
pitty and so the crowd starts screaming out for better sound. The mixers
pushed up the instuments but the voices sounded if they were only coming
from the monitors. However the audience was astonishing great at this day in
the tent, they applaused every time a good sound was played.
Both Transglobal Underground and AfroCelt Soundsystem later did incredible shows, that sound these bands are doing was amazingly good! Watch out for these bands to come back to Germany soon! (see some pictures on the Photo page)
In the Soundsystem Tent the Blood and fire crew made an incredible party:
Steve Barrow of the crew wrote in the news (rmr):
"Just to say THANKS to the Summerjam massive for the wonderful reception they gave Blood & Fire soundsystem [U-Brown, Ranking Joe, Joseph Cotton, Dom & Steve] on Friday night/saturday morning in the Soundsytem tent. Well over 2000 people squeezed in there, with more at the back.
We were joined for the finale by Danny Dread and Black Cappa, so we had five great deejays on stage at the end, just after 2 am. It was great, and the crowd was wicked!!!"
"It's good to be in Germany at this time of the year" (Mutabaruka)
This year it was the first time we really needed the lake! Going for a swim in the morning is much better than having a shower... The sun even was too hot to keep on dancing all of the daytime. This was (nearly) the hottest Summerjam ever!
Saturdays program brought us great concerts: From Raggamuffin to Roots, Saturday is the day of the major artists! Starting with Yellowman and ending with the great Burning Spear. In the afternoon Ky-Mani Marley was presented, but I never found out, why he was placed on main stage, just his name probably. Later Luciano and the magnificent Anthony B made the main stage a singers stage! Luciano was great, but Anthony B was even better!!!
In the tent after the opener by Submission and Tikiman the incredible Rootsman showed up juggling his minidiscs:
"Summer Jam was wicked. I was playing on the Tentstage and got a great reception. Anthony B was killer, as was Luciano. Nuff entertainers in the area, on stage and backstage and maybe 30,000 people there. Big up to all the organisers and artists. Great vibes too!" (Rootsman's comment in RMR).
Later Jamaica Papa Curvin gave us an impression of his "Jamican-German" vibes. After many years that we didn't see him live we were surprised about his strong sound! As well Mutabaruka! He really had fun on that small stage, not to compare with his boring appearance on Loreley many years ago! The Late night show by Junior Delgado was a must! His new sound now is influenced by other worldwide music genres, this was one of the most surprising acts in the tent!
In the Soundsystem Tent Rodigan alongside local PowPow Sound played all the good stuff people love so much. His dubplates are real killers... What really hurted was the early curfew at 3:00 in the morning. This was badly frustrating, people had so much fun and were not allowed to keep on dancing. This is Germany.......
"...it was a spectacular view and smell" (Jean Asher / Circus ChangHigh)
A wonderful part of Summerjam again was the Circus ChangHigh from Denmark, the Dr. Lord Chango of Circus ChangHigh, Lion Castle in Copenhagen, Denmark.
"The Deliverer of loving humor and pleasantry to the ordinary peasantry and
people of Denmark and Europe (= the director of the circus) Jean Asher wrote us:
"We had performed our second show saturday afternoon, when I took a look out over the lake and if I didn't knew where I was I would have thought that a fog or heavy cloud had descented upon the lake on this very hot and warm summer day, but knowing this was Summer Reggae Jam with app. 35.000 participants, mostly Rastafarians there was no doubt that the whole island and its surroundings was shrouded in a cloud of mariuana smoke mixed with some water evaporation. The smell was unmistakenly and when looking around I saw hundreds of people, if not thousand who were litteraly stoned from just breathing the air. It was as if time has stop. People simply got knock out right there in front of me,they were falling to sleep quite suddenly right whereever they were. Children were acting strangely and hardly anyone made a move.... life was slowly coming to a stand by..."
BTW: The fireworks on Saturday night at the Circus fitted wonderful to the amazing Rodigan Sound....
The organisation of the festival obviously was better than the last years. As far as possible every change in the running order was announced on the mainstage. At several places on the island written schedules were constantly updated. Sadly there was never a running order announced for the soundsystem tent, probably Contour music didn't realize the fact that there are many people coming to the Jam for the Soundsystems!
Sunday started of with Chill Out a German reggae band from
Essen on the main stage. Many were quite surprised about their musical capacities. Even
themselves were amazed of the positive reactions of the crowd.
As Lee 'Scratch' Perry had lost his passport in Jamaica, Tippa Irie was invited and the crowd really loved his appearance. OK he is a bit slower than he used to be but he is still great!
Then the Wailers started to play but it was nearly the same as every year, played mostly Marley songs mixed with some own songs. But it's getting a little boring to hear them now, cause if you see one concert you've seen all. The next were the good old Gladiators which were doing good grooving roots reggae and some early 60's ska songs. Julia P. said: "This makes Roots Reggae even better than Dancehall!"
Morgan Heritage didn't really happen in the crowd, maybe due to their late appearance on Sunday evening or due to the bad sound the mixer produced...
Sunday was the tent's "ska-day" and it started with Rude Rich and the High Notes (Ska from NL) and they
played a good mixture of classical 60 Jamaican Ska and late 70's Brit Ska.
Funny seeing them sweating in their fine suits but they did a good show. Later
on the "New York Ska Jazz Ensemble" played and they did a pretty good mixture
of Ska and Jazz with influences of early 40's Jazz like Cool Bop and Charlie
Parker / Miles Davis Style. But sadly that's nothing for the big crowd and the
tent was nearly empty. Afterwards Toasters starts their show which was really
heating off the crowd. Famous show as you know the Toasters and they played
It ended with Dr. Ring Ding. They combined ska, reggae and raggamuffin at a high level. With their guest singers they even proofed to be a good backing band. At the end of the concert all the singers and musicians sang good old Bob Marley's "One Love" with an almost too fast tempo in a ska-style.
Finally we would like to add some general opinions on Summerjam 99: The festival was absolutely phantastic, but there were still problems in organisation and the happenings! On the campground we missed the good atmosphere that we used to have in the last years. Due to the enormous number of people, no real togetherness happened, everybody just tried to keep his 'own little yard' just to have some place left. And we really missed the soundsystems on the campground, these allnight parties have always been a wonderful part of Summerjam, maybe there will be some place for them in the future of Summerjam!
This review has been written during a 5 days Email conference by:
Anne Budnik, Frank Schwalfenberg, Joris 'U-Rise' Mocka and Peter Beckhaus - the Reggaenode Posse
PHOTOS taken by Anne (2) and Peter (5), reproduction of photos only with permission of the Reggaenode!
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More infos about the festival, pictures and reports of the last years, on our special summerjam-homepage
More up-to-date infos about what is happening next in Germany and Europe:
More up-to-date infos about what is happening next in Germany at both the German tourdates and the European festivals pages
more PICTURES (downloads very slowly)
Big up Irie.de crew for the online Summerjam reports
more pictures by Julian Schmidt at The melody makers club (you have to subscribe to see them...)
Netherlands Pictures: Summerjam 99
FRIDAY 02.07.1999, start: ca. 14.00
|14:00 - 1.15h||Umoya - Reggae from Bonn home page||opens 18:00|
|15:45 - 1.15h||Mangu - Hip Hop from Dominican Republic info||18:30 - 1.15h||The Sixth Revelation Band|
|17:30 - 1:15h||Gentleman - Patois toasting from Cologne||20.15 1.15h||Zion Train - The incredible Sound from London home page|
|19:15 - 2:00h||Freundeskreis home page||22:00 - 1.15h||Transglobal Underground|
|21:45 - 1:15h||Khadja Nin home page||23:45 - 1:30||Afro Celt Soundsystem - Peter Gabriels Worldsound home page|
SATURDAY 03.07.1999, start: ca. 11.00
|12:15 - 1:15h||The Sixth Revelation Band|
|14:00 - 1.15h||Postmen info||opens 14:00|
|15:45 - 1.15h||Yellowman home page||16:00 - 3:00h||Tikiman and Submission (Dub from Berlin)|
|17:30 - 1.15h||Ky-Mani Marley info||19:30 - 1.15h||Mad Professor - The Grandmaster in Dub info|
|19:15 - 1:15h||Luciano - strong lyrics info CD review||21:15 - 1.15h||Jamaica Papa Curvin - original Roots from Hamburg home page|
|21:00 - 1.15h||Anthony B info||23:15 - 1.15h||Mutabaruka - The Dub Poet home page|
|22:45 - 1.15h||Burning Spear - Grandfather of Reggae info||01:00 - 1.15h||Junior Delgado|
SUNDAY 04.07.1999, start: ca. 11.00
|12:00 - 1.00h||Chill Out - Reggae aus Essen info|
|13:30 - 1.15h||Tippa Irie and the Robotics||opens 12:00|
|15:15 - 1.15h||Jazz Jamaica||14:45 - 1.15h||Rude Rich and the High Notes - NL-Ska|
|17:00 - 1.15h||The Wailers||16:30 - 1.15h||New York Ska Jazz Ensemble|
|18:45 - 1.15h||The Gladiators||18:15 - 1.15h||The Toasters|
|20:30 - 1.30h||Morgan Heritage info||20:00 - 2.00h||Dr. Ring Ding plus Dennis Alcapone, and others, H.P. Setter at the mixing board|
the following changes have been made:
All day - all night: Party in the Soundsystem Tent and at the Trucks!
Parallel programm during the whole festival:
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Reggaenode.de is not responsible for the programme or any other information given here on these pages! Please contact the official Websites at summerjam.de for official information as well!
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Page by Frank Schwalfenberg and Peter Beckhaus