Summer Jam

Summer Jam 1996 in Köln (06 and 07/07/96)

A very personal review

Summer Jam 1996 is over! For the 11th time the German and European Reggae posse came together to celebrate the biggest European Reggae party. "Only" 11.000 people in the concert plus 3.000 people having a party only on the campground appeared in Koeln. This years Jam was definitely a story of the weather. We had lots and lots of rain Friday night until Saturday morning. But the Saturday started quite well and after a very heavy thunderstorm Baaba Maal brought us the wonderful African Sun. But only an our later when Toots sang "take me home (...) to West Jamaica" the rain started again. But then it was dry during the whole night and only on Sunday evening Linton Kwesi Johnson brought us his English rain...

The new festival area in Fuehlingen was very nice and most of the people that I talked to enjoyed it very much to relax at the bank of the lake. And I even saw some people swimming... The problem of the new area seems to be that most of the parking places are too far away from the camping and festival area. People arriving too late on Friday evening 1 hour walks from car to camp site had to be done. But all in all this is really a nice area especially for a Reggae festival.

The festival itself went quite well. Only the opening band on Saturday (Iqulah) didn't come. The Revolutionary Dub Warriors played on Sunday morning and not on Saturday as announced. And Ini Kamoze didn't come to his show with Chaka Demus. But the rest of the fest went on as announced. My surprise act was Pato Banton. He did really a great show. Bunny Wailer was very good again but this years show was a copy of last years one. Lucky Dube was much better than two years ago. His new band is excellent! Buju Bantons new style was good as well. Now he starts to make music! Shaggy disappointed me: He just covered lots of songs and played his big hits... nothing of real interest.

All in all I think this years Summer Jam was musically very good but nothing was really thrilling or new. One statistics shows what I mean: Only Toots and the Maytals, Pato Banton and the Revolutionary Dub Warriors haven't been on the Summer Jam festival yet. All the other bands that played have been there before, 7 of the bands played in the last 3 years! Where are the new artists, where is the young generation of the Reggae scene in Jamaica, Europe, America and Africa? Where was Luciano? Dennis Brown? Lt. Stitchie? Where was Tippa Irie? Why not invite Boom Shaka from South Africa? My favourite Raggamuffin style!

Why have there been "only" 11.000 visitors in the festival? I think that the very bad weather and the other festivals (especially "Rheinkultur" in Bonn) forced many people not to come, but lots of Reggae lovers are not coming any more due to every years similar running order.

BTW: This was the running order:

SATURDAY: 6.7.1996

Date: Mon, 08 Jul 1996 21:09:29 -0700
Organization: Virtual Management
vielen Dank für Eure Seiten.
Wir sind 2 Tage gut abgeflogen und denken, das Jam sollte in Köln
Wie wärs mit ein paar Fotos vom 96er Jam im WWW?!
Maximum Respect
Thomas und Martin

From: Donny Joe Wilkins
Date: Thu, 11 Jul 1996 06:42:35 -0400
        I agree with your assesment of the lineup-- more risks should
be taken with the artists.  Cheb Mami is a perfect example-- he was
one of the opening acts (along with Papa Wemba) for Lucky Dube at
Winterthur's Afro-Pfingsten fest last year and the show was great!
        Bunny does seem to repeat himself a bit these days.  Pato and
Lucky are both top-notch entertainers (as well as nice guys for
interviews). Toots also works hard for his shows.  I really would
have enjoyed seeing LKJ (haven't yet).  Dennis Brown is on tour
with the Sunsplash USA group these days, so it wasn't possible for
a European performance.
        However, Jimmy Cliff, the Skatalites, Third World, and some other
"big name" artists are in Europe and didn't come.  What is Steel Pulse
up to these days? African Head Charge? Will "Scratch" Perry join
some festival like this next year? Alpha Blondy? Just some ideas...

Date: 12 Jul 96 04:28:52 EDT
From: Andreas Butz 100663.1444@CompuServe.COM
Subject: Re. Summer Jam
Summer Jam: die bands sollen zugaben geben koennen, damit sie die 
people richtig anheizen koennen!
mehr afrika! eine weitere buehne fuer neue bands! abends soundsystems 
(ziontrain etc.)
das food ist zu teuer! wo war afrika-food wie letztes jahr?

Subject: Re: REVIEW: Summer Jam Festival 1996 in Germany
Date: Fri, 12 Jul 1996 15:18:45 +0200
Organization: Universitaet Frankfurt
From: (Thilo Barth)
Uebrigens, ich hatte schon jemanden gefragt, wie's denn so war,
und wer denn so an Neuen ihr aufgefallen sei - tja - wie du
schon auch anmerkst - fast nichts. Und bezueglich der Stars
aus Westafrika muss man wohl einfach sehen, dass dort im Vergleich
mit Ost- oder Zentralafrika zum einen mehr Studios sind, die ein
gewisses Niveau haben (Xippi in Dakar, in Abidjan einige), und
dann da noch die Connection mit Frankreich wirkt.
Aber du hast schon recht, und wenn Westafrika - warum nicht
endlich mal die zweite Reggae-Generation (erste: Alpha Blondy),
so z.B. Serges Kassy  :)

From JanRichter@t-online Sat Jul 13 13:39 MES 1996
Subject: Re: REVIEW: Summer Jam Festival 1996 in Germany
Ich muss sagen, ich hatte den Zugang zu Reggae ungefaehr vor einem 
Jahr auf einem Konzert. Dort habe ich gemerkt, dass die Musik direkt 
ins Blut geht. Ich mache selber Rockmusik und hoere auch gemischte 
Sachen, aber diese Musik ging ins Blut.
ES HAT MICH GETANZT. Ehrlich, ich war aktiv und doch passiv...
Beim Jam hatte ich dieses Erlebnis leider nicht. Warum kann ich nicht 
sagen. Vielleicht waren die Musiker selber nicht so gut drauf, dass 
sie das Lebensgefuehl nicht so ruebergebracht haben oder ich selber 
hatte Schwierigkeiten oder das Wetter...
Ich weiss es nicht. Ich war von Shaggy uebrigens auch enttaeuscht. Er 
hat sogar bei "Get up, stand up" teilweise den falschen Text gehabt!!
Wovon ich begeistert war, waren die DUB WARRIORS. Die waren echt 
klasse. Auch die DUB-Musik am Freitagabend im Zelt fand ich sehr gut.
Ok, nun zur Beantwortung Deiner Fragen:
> WHY did you decide to come to the Jam (or if you didn't come...
> why not?)
Ich war begeistert von Reggae Musik und hatte vorher schon durch 
Mund-zu-Mund-Propaganda von ihm gehoert.
> ORGANISATION of this years festival:
> - Pre-Information by Contour 
Sehr gut
> - Information during the Jam 
Sehr schlecht. Es ist unmoeglich, wenn Ordner und selbst die Damen im 
YellowCabin Mietcontainer mir keinerlei Informationen geben koennen.
> - Camping & Parking organisation
Wir sind am Donnerstagabend gekommen und mussten mehr oder weniger 
alles selber organisieren. Ausserdem mussten wir noch einmal 
umziehen, weil Geruechten nach, unser Parkplatz nicht zum Campen 
gedacht war. Kurz und gut, es war nicht gut organisiert...
> - Did you like the new area? Why (not)?
Ich kenne leider die alten Orte nicht, aber dieser hier hat mir sehr 
gut gefallen. Auf jeden Fall sollte der Jam dort wieder statt finden.
> - could you see enough?
Ja, das ging gut
> - was the sound good?
Ich fand den Sound extrem basslastig. Teilweise hat es in den Ohren 
einfach weh getan. Ich fand den Sound nicht so gut.
> - who was your most surprising act?
> - who was your most disappointing act?
> - where should the next Summer Jam be?
Fuehlinger See, wo sonst! 
Zusammenfassend muss ich noch sagen, dass es mir sehr gut gefallen 
hat, obwohl ich mir mehr versprochen hatte. I'll see next time!
Ciao Jan
Jan Richter

From the Netherlands:
Date: 18 Jul 96 13:13:49 EDT
From: Harry Schutten 101460.2417@CompuServe.COM
Respect !!!
It started off real bad.
We entered the area friday at about 18.00 and wanted to go to the main parking.
Because we were with 3 cars and I brought my '2 wheel tent' we weren't alowed 
on this field. 
So we had to try another parking area, just for campers and stuff.
Here we were told that it was completely full, and we had to try somewhere else.
All in all we tried 5 times to get a place to stay and finally we got a perfect
spot at the 'completely full' parking lot just across the street off the 
camping area.
This is were we met Mighty V, (never heard of him before) who came by our place
and we had a chat and things. He made some good music, so an album was easily
bought. Still no regrets, just reggae the way I like it. Things like this make
the Jam live.
There should be more soundsystems though, we just had 1, and I heard that we
were lucky 'cause on the regular camping place there wasn't even 1.
Although the spot was ok, there was no water. (That means no coffee and stuff
like that...)
The Jam it self was fine with me, the surrounding was a lot better than last
years airfield (Wildenrath). To bad 'bout the rain coming down every now and
then. Don't forget that we had some real nice sun too !!!
The festifal area didn't seem much larger than at the Lorely, so lets get back
there !!!
The prices off the food and drinks seem to rise every year (or is it that my
wallet getting thinner ??)
There should be more choices than pizza, french fries and giros (sandwitches
with more vegetables than meat, you tried them ?).
Now to answer some questions:
Organistation ??
You already know that we were unable to get our tickets trough our normal
channel (Holland ticket service) because they told us the Jam was off 
(Quite a shock).  So we had to contact Contour, they send us tickets, 
no complaints there.
All the info I needed was on posters on the terrain, that's ok.
To me the highlights were Culture (didn't anybody see that ?) Lucky Dube, 
Dub Warriors and LKJ (bad sound) The Mighty Diamonds were fun too listen 
to and Bunny Wailer is pretty good, but should change the show some more. 
Shaggy disappointed.
I don't know 'bout you, but the above list is not the only reason I get there.
Just the good vibes on the whole place (That is, when you're finally in) 
make me go.
My list of 'to come' should at least include Alpha Blondy, also Tiger was 100%
at the legendary Lorely, he should come back. Let's get UB40 and have them play
only the good (old) stuff....
Maybe they remember how to play reggae, they were superb. (once, 10 years ago)
You remember 'The earth dies screaming & I think it's going to rain today ??
Or Tado, Dub Syndicate, Gregory (and make sure he's coming this time !).....
there's still a lot left
to wish for.
All in all I'm allready looking forward to the 12-th Summer Jam. 
	Where ever it may be, I'm gonna go 
Baye for now, keep enjoying the best there is.

From Firststep records:
Date: Tue, 24 Sep 1996 10:39:10 -0400
My real reason for writing is your
review on Summer Jam 1996. I was not at Summer Jam but I can relate very well
to the problem, because it is the same thing in the USA. I have always taught
that reggae is not reproducing good quality
music and players like it once did. Of course there is no more Bob but that
don't have to be the end of the music. Every year for the past five years all
the show have had the same line up and I am tired of it. The thing about it
is,  there are up and coming bands, but the radio stations will not play them
and the promoter won't hire them and give them a chance, and if this does not
stop the music as we know it will die. Dancehall I think is a poor excuse for
what was once a great music(and still is). The ONE LOVE vibe that existed in
the days of Bob surly does not exist in dancehall. The days of going to a
concert and having a IRIE time in NY is over because of the violence that
follows dancehall. This has put a bad name on reggae and when the better
bands come to town very few people turn out to see them. Foreign Exchange
opened for Israel Vibration at NY Irving Plaza and sold out the venue of
about 1200 people and everyone was so glad to see this kind of music again it
was great. Everything else has been dancehall and not very good.
             I could go on and on but you get the idea. My company's aim is
to change that and bring back the good stuff. It's going to take everybody
participation to make it work. You  have helped by providing the info that
you do but I don't know if you can talk to the promoters in Germany and ask
them to start giving the new bands a chance (and the radio station).
To be honest I don't know the answer to the problem, but I'm just trying
everything to save the music, and your review just seem to be saying the same

Subject: Some Suggestion for next year's SummerJam !
Date: Sun, 20 Oct 1996 12:15:26 +0200
 I'm Menoj Roekalea (member of "The DubMeditation" ) coming from
 Nijmegen in the Netherlands.
 My suggestion is that the promotion has to be done also in the
 Netherlands just as they did in 1995,
 Also the booking agencies in the Netherlands did not know
 about anything so we had to wait 4 hours before we could buy
 our tickets to the festival.
 There is lot's of reggae activity in Holland but the SummerJam
 beats them all.
 Nuff Respect ....

Date: Mon, 4 Nov 1996 20:45:13 
Subject: Summer Jam 96, Response
The critical thing about this festival to my mind is the site:
Certainly, there's enough space in this park for years to come, the camping
conditions are pleasant, the logistic conditions are fine, and especially
for me as a Bonner it's ideal to get to.
However, the island seems to be a difficult place for a concert: It's just
a huge, flat meadow with only a very few crippled, tiny trees, and the site
over the lake is not delighting. For the musicians that meant that they
didn't have many fixed points, and they
certainly always must have looked from the comparably small crowd, over a
large region of dispersing people into the vast loneliness of a sad meadow.
That makes it hard for them to bring to the audience the "good vibrations".
And for the audience there was not only no shelter from the rain, but above
that the feeling of just being misplaced in this vast, plane wetness. Also,
in the pauses, there were far too few places to have a dry rest. On the 2nd
day, when sun was shining, of course, people didn't stay together during
the pauses, but spread over the vast island.
Hence, the bands couldn't work together passing the good mood from one band
to the next, but they had to bring together the wearily trodding people
first, and to build up the vibrations their own.
As to the bands, they did their best, and to my mind they were very good,
Bunny Wailer was my personal highlight, and I feel, if he were to change
his performance, he will not be Bunny any more.
Still, next year I hope to see some new African reggae bands, there's lots
of them playing good roots, and there's lots of African people in the
audience. Finally, the biggest German reggae festival should always present
some good old smashing ska.

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