Uppsala fest goes virtualSaturday, August 01, 2020
BY RICHARD JOHNSON
With online festivals being the new normal, least of the major European summer reggae festivals is taking their brand of entertainment to cyberspace.
The Uppsala Reggae Festival, which is held in Sweden, has taken the decision to partner with the Harry J Recording Studio in Jamaica, to take the festival to the people despite the prevailing pandemic due to the coronavirus.
The virtual edition will be beamed live from the studio in Kingston today and will feature an impressive line-up of local reggae acts including Lutan Fyah, Kabaka Pyramid, Jesse Royal, Dean Fraser, Duane Stephenson, Samory I, Mortimer, Kumar, Micah Shemaiah, and Chezidek.
The festival's founder Yared Tekeste noted that he and his team just wanted to fill the space caused by the pandemic.
“Well, off course, we as the whole world have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Even more as reggae lovers, a huge void was created in our hearts. So, me and Bernd “Sheriff” Lagemann of Reggae Jam Festival in Germany came up with the idea of trying to fill the void for all reggae lovers, and decided to do a virtual festival on our original festival weekend which is this coming weekend. So, I reached out to Tara Johnson of Harry J, whom I rate highly for all the work she has done to restore her father's legacy to reopen and run the legendary studio. She has since then, been a bastion for whole the project,” he told the Jamaica Observer.
Tekeste shared that the despite the last-minute arrangements, the response to the virtual presentation has been overwhelming and his team has responses from places they never thought they would reach such as Rwanda, Kenya, Colombia, Chile, and Costa Rica.
He said another noteworthy moment is the respose of the Jamaican artistes
“I had an understanding and a plan with Tara. So I started reaching out to artistes to be part of it and I was overwhelmed how many of our artistes were willing to support and give strength in these days. I have to mention specially Duane Stephenson and Dean Fraser, two dear friends who have been very instrumental in making this happen.”
Conscious reggae singer Samory I is simply grateful for being able to perform for his fans on a platform such as this given these times.
“The promoters have given the fans an opportunity to connect with their favourite artiste. For I, it is an opportunity to satisfy my fans' musical appetite. In this COVID times people have the opportunity to stay home and be entertained with good regae music. It is now more than ever that positive messages are needed.,” he told the Observer.
The organisers are hoping for the best with the virtual edition. According to Tekeste, viewership figures could be anywhere from 1,000 to 10,000 given the current climate, but he is hoping for the best.
He had a word of encouragement for the artistes, and the situation they find themselves in due to this global health crisis.
“It's hard to find the right message without sounding corny, but keep the faith, be flexible and solidify your position in the world of reggae, and most of all look beyond the US market, the world is much bigger than that,” said Tekeste.
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