18 August 2018
The festival kicks off the weekend with a night bring together historic and present-day Jamaican sounds, the flow of Iberian dancehall and reggae that has closed the circle, returning to its native land to express a yearning for justice for the the people of African.
The first chapter of the evening will see the renowned Skatalites take to the stage. It will surely be testament to the contemporary version of the most important ska band which, although active in its original form from 1963 to 1965, was absolutely fundamental to the future development of Jamaican music. They were among the first modern Jamaican musicians that imitated American rhythm & blues for exclusive use by selectors of the first sound systems and the crowds at the first dancehalls of Western Kingston. They are a quartet of extraordinary jazz musicians; Tommy McCook, Roland Alphonso y Don Drummond among others and have come together again and have given a tour to develop original ska; the first modern Jamaican music that combined jazzy styles with key African rhythms, could later develop rocksteady and later on, reggae. Through various changes, the Skatalies have arrived in 2018 as global ambassadors of the origins of Jamaican music. For this 25th anniversary, they will be joined by three others; the voice of Doreen Schaffer, the legendary Derrick Morgan and the trombone of Vin Gordon.
Following them for her Main Stage debut will be the Spanish dancehall star Bad Gyal. Her real name is Alba Farelo, who although only 21, has played out in Iceland, LA and Japan. Her mixtape ‘Slow wine’ and the album ‘World wide angel’ are two of her most prominent works. Her unique style holds a balanced space between trap, dancehall and reggaeton, which she sings in English, Catalan and Spanish.
This night will also see the super energetic Romain Virgo‘s return to the festival, one of the most important artists in the new generation of Jamaican singers, who in 2006 won the TV show Digicel Rising Stars. Reggae lovers will remember his progression with singles such as ‘Love doctor’, ‘My cyann sleep’ and ‘Wanna go home’, as well as his debut self-titled album of 2010. 2018 has been a turning point for Romain with the release of his third work ‘Lovesick’, which was also a number one hit in the USA chats.
Another returning artist will close the Main Stage, where Jamaican sounds will closely draw from their African roots with Tiken Jah Fakoly from Ivory Coast. Those who have already seen him on stage can’t forget the entrancing rhythms of his band, his African clothes and the way he energised the crowd with his movements. Although Alpha Blondy‘s influence were key to his development, his recognition came in 1996 with the heavy condemnation against corruption in Africa with ‘Mangercratie’. In 2003 he had to exile himself to Bamako (Mali) for his words as his criticism of the president Abdoulaye Wade made him into a ‘persona non grata’ in Senegal in 2007. In his latest work, ‘Racines’, the great artist rediscovered the richness and syncopation of the traditional music of Ivory Coast.
There will be live music on the Lion Stage in the form of Hi Shine Ladies, General Roots, the British Hollie Cook and Laguna Pai. On Saturday night there will be one-off moments like the reunion of European dancehall pioneers like the German Pow Pow and the Italian One Love Hi Powa. The legendary Jah Shaka plays a full session in the Dub Academy and the surprising selection of Gladdy Wax in the Jamaican Uptempo area.
Written by Pier Tosi. Translated by Cárol Ferré Pellicer and Finn Darco