A new High for Reggae On The River

Observer senior writer

Wednesday, April 04, 2018

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The long-running Reggae On The River festival, which has experienced a downturn in recent years, has entered into a partnership with High Times Productions to revive its fortunes.

A statement on the show's website recently confirmed the deal between High Times Productions, the event-management team for High Times Media, and Mateel Community Center, which has promoted Reggae On The River since its inception in 1984.

According to the statement, “High Times will assume all responsibility for the upcoming festival's talent line-up, marketing, and monetisation efforts. The brand will also provide the Mateel Community Center with best practices learned from its long and successful production history in an effort to ensure the experience is on par with what the industry has come to expect from its premier brand.”

High Times Productions also stages the annual Cannabis Cup around the world. A wildly popular forum for ganja advocates, it was held in Negril in November 2015.

Garth Epling, president of the Mateel Community Center, welcomed the partnership with the High Times group, which also owns High Times Magazine. Damian “Junior Gong” Marley is a major shareholder of that publication.

“Reggae On The River has been a treasured part of Northern California's cultural scene for decades, and Mateel's board has been committed to finding a long-term, sustainable partnership to ensure the festival thrives for years to come,” Epling said.

Held in the nature setting of Humboldt County, Reggae On The River has hosted the music's biggest names. It attracts thousands of reggae fans mainly from the United States West Coast.

In recent years, it has been hit by decline in attendance and allegations of financial impropriety by administrators.

Wailers archivist and reggae historian Roger Steffens has been to 'Reggae' on the River several times. He agrees the High Times injection is a much-needed boost for a festival that hashelped expose reggae and Jamaican culture to new markets.

“In Northern California there has never been a more important or influential festival than Reggae On The River. Along with the Sierra Nevada festival, it is a major voice in keeping roots reggae alive by booking key cultural artistes from the ska and rocksteady era especially,” he said. “I've done my Life of Bob Marley there a couple of times and a bit of emceeing as well, and the vibe has always been very 'upful'.”

The 2018 edition Reggae On The River is scheduled for August 2-5. Its lineup will be announced soon.




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