AFTER years of being unable to perform in the United States, firebrand Rastafarian singjay Sizzla Kalonji is one of the headliners on the 32-year-old Reggae on the River (ROTR), set for California on August 4-7.
Sizzla (whose given name is Miguel Collins) has been facing the wrath of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) community for what they deem as inflammatory lyrics against them.
Efforts to contact Sizzla were unsuccessful.
The line-up for this year’s event also includes the Fire House Band, Kranium, Agent Sasco, Anthony B, Protoje and the Indiggnation Band, Yellow Man, Jesse Royal, Sister Carol, Jah9 and the Dub Treatement, No Maddz, Keznamdi, Addis Pablo, and Dubtonic Kru.
Justin Crellin, the festival’s general manager, said the inclusion of a number of the younger reggae acts reflects the age group of festival goers.
“With more than 30 years behind us, we’ve seen multiple generations of festival goers make the ROTR pilgrimage. Some attendees from the early years are still with us to this day, and we are also now seeing a new crop of first-timers each year that are coming for a taste of the ROTR experience — and hopefully becoming return guests year after year. I would say that some of this is due to the younger acts we are hosting, but is also representative of a larger trend of younger folks being a primary festival audience,” he said.
The organisers said with more than three decades under their belt, it gets easier to organise the festival.
“It has been a roller coaster over the years with venue changes. But now that we are in our fourth year back at our original French’s Camp venue, and our crews have settled back into things, I would say it is generally getting easier to organise. Of course, there are other aspects of the business that are more challenging these days like work visas, more festival competition, shifting trends in reggae music,” Crellin told
One of the major summer festivals in the United States, Reggae on the River has constantly had to update its offering and this year’s staging will be no different. The natural environment is also taken into consideration.
“On the festival site, we constructed a 780,000-gallon rainwater catchment pond that will allow us to better irrigate and manage the venue — with enough excess left in the pond after the event for us to put back into the ground and offset our total water usage. This will make ROTR a water-neutral event (the first of its kind as far as we know). So this is big news, especially considering the California drought and an improvement that will greatly enhance the patron experience. We are also increasing art and other installations to add to the ambiance throughout the festival grounds, offering new premier public camping options, and expanding activities in the campground like yoga,” Crellin added.