Music

Stepping High fest returns in March

By Howard Campbell
Observer senior writer

Friday, February 15, 2019

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AN unapologetic Rastaman, Lyndon Connell, has always tied his faith to ganja and reggae. So, when he started the Stepping High Ganja Festival 16 years ago, those components were inevitable.

The latest edition of that event takes place March 1-2 in Negril, where it started as a small gathering for ganja advocates like Connell and his family, who are from the tourist town.

With Jamaica's government gradually decriminalising ganja in the last three years, the Stepping High Ganja Festival has taken on more expansive themes such as the plant's cultural and medicinal benefits.

Yet, Connell says there is always a place for music. Capleton, Little John, I Wayne, Addis Pablo and Dann-I are the artistes for this year's show.

“Recreational with music gives added value because it is therapy, a soothing and calming of the mind and body, inspiring and raising people to a higher level,” Connell reasoned. “Recreational use of herbs should be encouraged as this is (Negril) where most people were introduced to cannabis. Recreational use must be made legal just as the medical use is legal.”

Capleton, Dann-I and Addis Pablo performed at last year's concert which took place at Cayenne Beach. It followed a fashion show that showcased clothing made from hemp; there will be a similar event this year.

Connell's daughter Khimaja is a director of organisers Stepping High Promotions. She stressed that while it is important to have a live reggae concert, it is even more critical for the artistes to have progressive views on ganja.

“Artistes are very important. However, we want to focus more on education and vibes or feel of the event. Whereas we can see a musical concert anytime, a Rasta cannabis music event is a very unique experience,” she said.

The senior Connell has been involved in ganja cultivation since his high school days, when Negril was a Bohemian getaway for lovers of sun, sea and weed. At an awards show that closes his festival, he rewards the small ganja farmer who made their living from their fields long before the Jamaican government began its decriminalisation process in late 2015.

Last year, exhibits of Ital-grown ganja were tested by judges based on flavour, aroma, aesthetics and THC (TetraHydroCannabinol) level.

Waba from Brighton, Westmoreland, got the highest scores for his strain, dubbed 'The Twist'. Second place went to King Lawyah from House of Sensi in Orange Hill (also in Westmoreland) for his 'Blue Berry Pineapple', while in joint third were Blackin and King Lawyah of Brighton and Orange Hill, respectively, for 'The Skunk'


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