Summer Jam

14th Summer Jam 1999 in Köln (02 - 04.07.1999)

Luciano and the MASSIVE "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. Gentleman and the Killin Riddim Section from Cologne

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)

Luciano 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).

Rodigan inside the crwoded soundsystem tent

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.......

" 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....

Tippa Irie

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...

Dr. Ring Ding and Dennis Alcapone 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 really long.
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.

The ducks and the stage

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

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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 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


Main Stage


Tent Stage

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


Main Stage


Tent Stage

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


Main Stage


Tent Stage

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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