The Festival-Summer 1998

a reggaenode-review, 11/98

Sorry for keeping you waiting, but I didn`t find the time to finish this page, it´s November already but I still remember all details of this years festivals. This year I was lucky enough to see all three main-Reggae-festivals in Germany. Therefore I would like to take this chance to do a review on these festivals. Furtheron I will try to a comparison of the shows. Before I start I would like to thank the organisers of all three festivals for their support and the chance to get a inside-view around backstage and all runnings behind the surface. The three festivals I am talking about are:

13. SummerJam

04.- 05.07.1998 F¨hlinger See in Köln/Cologne
Alpha Blondy, Jimmy Cliff, Lucky Dube, Anthony B., Culture, Third World, Steel Pulse, Buju Banton, Dennis Brown, Dub Syndicate and many more
Chiemsee Reggae Summer 1998

10.-12.07.1998, Übersee am Chiemsee (Bavaria)
Zion Train, Third World, Alpha Blondy, Angelique Kidjo, Linton Kwesi Johnson, Shaggy, Jimmy Cliff and many more

IRIE `98

05.09.1998, Westfalenpark in Dortmund
Alpha Blondy, Gentleman, Chukki Star, Macka B, Mad Professor, Pablo Moses, Mikey Dread, Linton Kwesi Johnson

The 13. Summer Jam in Köln, 4.-5.7.98

The Number 13 was the lucky number for Contour Music. Since 13 years the organisers tried to manage this festival well but this year was the first one that didn`t make me mourn a lot. Still there were lots and lots of problems but the organisation was much better than in the previous years. Contour did the step to have the European Reggae Festival.

It was a very good decision to make the island in the Fühlinger See the "party island". It became the center of happenings: Summerjam98-Truckbuehne The festival itself with the main stage right at the bank of the Regatta Bahn, the big festival-tent with the second stage, the soundsystem-tent and the two truck-stages presenting many European soundsystems, plus the wonderful Circus ChangHigh and the bazar. This gave everybody the opportunity to allways chose his individual style of music whenever he got bored on one event.

On Friday night the problems were extremly dangerous at the main entrance to the party-island, and for every visitor - just like in the past years - a horrible situation. I don`t understand why the security were not able to open more gates, the scenes that happened were dramatic! Anyway, later (I mean later!) when we finally got in we were lucky to see Asian Dub Foundation in the festival-tent. They were a great starter and I was absolutely surprised about their perfomance on stage! The soundsystem night started quite slow, the truck-stages were -during the whole weekend- quite empty but in the sound-tent Pow Pow took their chance for their second (official) apperance at Summer Jam

The Saturday is always the day of the main acts at Summer Jam. On the main stage Alpha Blondy, Buehne 98 Jimmy Cliff, Third World and the still incredible Steel Pulse performed. Culture reached the venue too late so that their show was shifted to the small tent-stage. This was really sad as Culture were phantastic but the atmosphere as well as the accoustics in the tent were not supporting the roots-sound. The remaining line-up for the tent included great shows of the Senegal/Czecheslowakian Hypnotix, Amharic and the famous Twinkle Brothers.

On Sunday the new stars are presented on Summer Jam: On the main-stage Anthony B -the YoungStar of Jamaicas conscious Reggaescene- performed just before Germanys Top-Reggae-Band Messer Banzani. Both shows were incredible impressive but ut I ask myself, why did they have to change the lineup here (AB was announced to perform after Messer Banzani)? Many people missed to see Anthony B and this was really sad for them as they missed a wicked show! The other acts on the main stage (Lucky Dube, Buju Banton, Dennis Brown, Bim Sherman) were not able to win the fight against the upcoming rain in the afternoon. Buju did a lazy show, surprisingly Dennis Brown did a great performance. In the tent I was able to see the Skatalites. It is so wonderful to see these "old" men still performing such a great sound!

A very good idea was the Circus ChangHigh on the party island. This Reggae Circus from Denmark played all day for everybody and it was a nice relaxing point and a Circus ChangHigh chance for the many small children to get some entertainment as well. This circus hopefully has a future on Summer Jam!

Finally Summer Jam 98 was great, even the sheduled lineup was very close to the final running order. This hasn`t been like this in the last years!!! It was very sad that Beenie Man didn't come and I really missed the worldmusic act that has been on the main stage every year since the very beginning. It seems that Contour and the local organisers finally agree fully with the festival ground at Cologne, but there are still lots of problems to solve, such as the bus shuttle service, the entrance disaster and the chaotic situation on the camp grounds

Anyway, I believe that Summer Jam has a phantastic future, it will be the European Reggae Festival and one day it might receive a similar reputation as the two big Reggae Festivals in Jamaica. Anyway, maybe Summer Jam will lose something special in this process: They presented a lot of different styles in the last years and everybody got the chance to hear some new style of musiv, but, due to the many stages and many different shows taking place at one time the visitor seems more and more to choose the artistes he already knows and therfore misses the surprising acts, which I always loved so much! I hope that Contour may find a positive way inbetween commerce and the real vibes of Summer Jam.

Please give us your opinion about the Summer Jam Festival! We have opened a forum giving everybody the chance to give feedback on the Summer Jam.

More infos about the festival, pictures and reports of the last years, on our special summerjam-homepage

Chiemsee Reggae Summer 1998, 10.-12.7.98

It was my first time on Chiemsee Reggae Summer. The Chiemsee is a lake in the deep south of Germany, the deepest part of Bavaria, close to the Austrian border surrounded by a wonderful view on the skyline of the Alps.

Chiemsee Reggae Summer is the second Reggae Festival in Germany, usually it takes place one week after Summer Jam. Again the German Reggae-Posse gets together at the bank of the Chiemsee. It was the 6th anniversary of this event and the local organisers (A.M.O.K. promotion) got quite professionel in managing a huge festival like this. Approximately 13.000 people attended this years festival and they had to fight against very bad weather and an incredibly wet and mudy ground. But still the atmosphere was phantastic.

A.M.O.K. did set up a program that was able to get both to the festival, the Reggae Chiemsee-Buehne Posse from Germany and Austria and the local young music lovers. Therefore they did put Shaggy and Jimmy Cliff -both well known for their popular Reggae style- as the headliners for the Chiemsee Festival.

On Friday we arrived quite late, but finally got there to see 'Mister Boombastic' Shaggy. Usually Shaggy's music is not my type of sound, but he did such a great show, playing with the (very young and screaming) audience. The kids went crazy! I have never seen something like that on a Reggae Festival. Shaggy is one of the few artists who was invited to the CRS constantly and his Pop-Sound draws also many non-Reggae people to the festival and see the other bands as well.

Due to heavy rains during the whole week the former green ground was forced to an muddy field by the many trucks and tractors which were used to building the stage and the party tent. It was not possible to walk anywhere, even outside the festival area, without getting suck in the mudd. The organisers had to leave a gap of about 9 meters (!) between the audiance and the stage because of the muddy ground. During the afternoon acts on Saturday they managed to build a wooden ground right in front of the stage and so were able to reduce the gap to some meters. That was a great job which was done there!

The Weather was quite allright on Saturday and it was a great feeling at Chiemsee Reggae Summer. Montego Bay's Sixth Revelation (living in southern Germany now) had the hard job as the opening band, Hypnotix, the Senegalese/Chzecheslowakian newcomer didn't really catch that bavarian audiance. Angelique Kidjo from Benin did a surprisingly good show. She finally made some steps back to her musical-roots and was able to convince the pop-oriented audiance (and even me).

Ran mit den Zuschauern! Linton Kwesi Johnson celebrated his 20th anniversary as a 'Reggae performing artist' alongside with his still incredible baseman Dennis Bovell. LKJ presented a lot of old tunes but half of the program played new songs from his album which will be released in autumn 98. It was very positive to notice that LKJ is able to do new stuff after years with the same programme.

The next act was Alpha Blondy (note: he was NOT headliner of CRS!). It was his first time to play Chiemsee and he ruled the place, Mon! His last song was about police brutality ('Mister Polizei....') and the audience went crazy on it because of the big presence of the Bavarian police (more than 30 people were arrested for using 'drugs').

Top act on Saturday was Jimmy Cliff. There is not very much to say about Jimmy's perfomances, I believe everybody has seen him quite often now. He is still such a great live-musician and allways a gift for a festival. His pop-reggae gave us a wonderful final.

A very nice thing at CRS were the small final shows on sunday mornings in the dancing tent. Of course everybody is still tired but it is a wonderful breakfast!

All in all CRS is a nice festival that seems to be very small but that is very big. 13.000 people this year are a lot for the bad wheather that we had during the whole week. I was surprised of the good organisation and the atmosphere at the festival ground. The bazar was included in the area smoothfully and there were enough areas to relax. I think that CRS will have a great future, even with the many competeting other festivals in Austria which happened in 98, CRS did reach a great amount of audience. Bring di vibes to bavaria, Mon! (... and get rid of babylon and the police!!!)

More infos about the festival at the A.M.O.K.-homepage

IRIE´ 98, in Dortmund, 5.9.98

It was the second edition of the "New Reggae Open Air in Germany" in the beautiful Westfalenpark right in the heart of Dortmund city. And it was boring. I am really sorry to say that, especially because I know how hard the organisers (GPI music Berlin and Revelation concerts) struggeled the weeks before to keep this festival going.

Lots of artistes who were booked (even signed contratcs!) and announced didn't come to the festival: Bunny Wailer claimed more money shortly before the date of his performance. Sizzla, Capleton and Everton Blender were booked but never confirmed this date. Eek A Mouse who was on the programme after a long time not performing in Germany and he also didn't come. Probably GPI depended on the wrong agents in Jamaica or elsewhere. It's Reggae business and everybody knows that it is very hard to find the right people especially if you are trying to book artists from overseas. And even if you have got the right contact to an artist you still can't be shure that this artist will surely board his plane and come to a show in Europe. Every Reggae fan knows about this and experienced it on various festivals. and concerts as well. Irie 98 was a very bad example of Jamaican business.

GPI hardly tried to replace the cancelled artistes. They presented Alpha Blondy for the second time headliner on IRIE. But the crowd expected the announced dancehall acts who were really missing to lively up the show. The Irie festival was announced as the "New Reggae Open Air" but the presented music was truely old and so slow. The Westfalenpark in Dortmund is a nice location for a festival. The huge lown is ideal for an open air concert. The promoters of IRIE should have designed the area and a especially the stage a little bit more: with more colours etc.. This is also a great part of creating a food festival vibe There was not even a bit of decoration on the stage.

The opening of the show was done by Gentleman & The Killing Riddim Section. Unfortunately I missed his act, but I was told that his act was the best of all. Next Mad Professor at the console presented Macka B. Macka B is a great artist but I think that he performed more than enough now. Worst that his show has not much of new stuff to offer. But the young upcoming DJ "Chuckkie Star": who was on the package with Macka B was really a big surprise: very conscious music combined with the positive personality and an impressing voice, this yong artist is a great gift for the Ariwa-crew and the Reggae Music World. The Roots-section started out with Pablo Moses. I don't know why he was a part of the festival. There was no action and also spreaded no vibes at all. Just as if Pablo was bothered by performing. I guess that staring at my CD-player is more thrilling, than watching Pablo Moses. Mikey Dread did try to get in touch with the crowd but still didn't get them grooving so that he finally gave up and left the stage sudden. I wouldn't even blaim him too much about that, because the audience was really boaring and slow. Next act was Linton Kwesi Johnson presenting his new CD and trodding on with his well-know style. Nothing new or surprising to me except for the new songs but still one of the best performances at Irie'98. Last not least Alpha's final act was quite fine, but it was his second performance in series at IRIE and his third apperance on a German reggaefestival stage in 1998. And this show at IRIE was amongst all three the worst one, no disrespect. But maybe it happened because of the slow athmosphere which dominated the whole festival.

It was truely a bad decision to book Alpha again. Maybe one reason for this festival to be turned out so bad was that the promoters had nothing new to offer. Alpha for instance just performed 2 months before at Summer Jam. The weather and the programme were surely a great reason why compared to last year only a low number of people attended (about 5.000) the fest. Although the location is very nice it is very risky to promote a Reggae festival in Germany in September, although it is a good idea by the promoters to finish the festival season with IRIE. GPI and Revelation Concerts should think their concepts over. In 97 the festival was a big success and hopefully it will be a success again in 99. GPI is currently starting to get in touch with the right people in Jamaica and hopefully they learn by mistakes and we the crowd will not be confronted with such a desasterous programm again. in 99.

More infos about the festival at the Classical Reggae Interviews Page

Sorry, no pictures, we forgot our camera, but if you´ve got some, send them!

More infos about upcoming festivals in Germany to be found on our festivalpage.
More infos about upcoming concerts in Germany to be found on our concertpage.

This review is a service of the German Reggaenode

(C) November 1998, Peter Beckhaus, The German Reggaenode
All pictures on this page are taken by Simone Schaub and Peter Beckhaus and I will kill everybody who is goung to copy anything... :-)