Dallas Reggae Festival: Day One

Back again for 2023, the Dallas Reggae Festival gathered the masses to Addison, Texas for a three-day celebration of all things reggae. Bringing in some of the best reggae acts from ALL over the world, the DRF made lifetime memories April 7th, 8th and 9th. Addison Circle Park was booming with dubby basslines and that back-beat riddim that makes reggae bounce. The weather was more than cooperative in helping with such a great turnout as DFW let go of their stress and burned down their “relaxation medication” to the sweet sounds of reggae music.

Friday’s lineup started in the evening; gates opened at five o’clock and music started promptly at six. What a great way to accommodate people that still had to work all day Friday, yet give them a chance at a full festival experience … kudos DRF!  A short line formed at the entrance just before security gave the go ahead to open’er on up. Everyone picked up their bags and chairs and headed into the grounds where we were met with vibrant colors of beautiful works of art, crafts and clothing sold by the local artisan vendors. Food truck alley was a hotspot, boasting upwards of 15 different vendors to choose from; some sweet, some savory, all as delicious as can be. My first stop was for a Jamaican meat pie and a fold of chapati before heading to the stage area and getting ready for the music to start.

Local to Texas, Cas Haley was the first reggae act to hit the mainstage. Haley brought that smooth delivery of his powerful words to the mic as Drae kept the beat on the drumset behind him. It was a full band experience on stage, at one point bringing out his wife and daughter to help with the performance (his son stays on stage, playing the bass guitar as a full-time member of the band!). Haley also performed a number of his recent sensational country music covers in a reggae stylee.

I can’t tell you how much it’s loved by Texans!

Right as Haley’s set came to an end, I visited the food alley once again for an order of deep-fried oreos to satisfy a munchies craving for something sweet, and it did NOT disappoint. I wandered back up-front, still wiping the powdered sugar from my face as the Bud Light stage began buzzing with energy.

Ras Indio from Belize (backed by the D’ras and Sharac band) prepared to address the masses with his message. Ras Indio got the crowd right back into the groove without missing a beat; in fact the beat got stronger as he danced around and rallied the crowd to do the same. Some early microphone issues got in the way, but didn’t stay long and the tunes continued to flow. 

Almost overlapping sets, the next performers were quietly setting up their gear on the big stage as Ras Indio was still in party mode on the Bud Light stage. After the host of the night stepped up to introduce the next band, the lights went low, and reggae-rockers Passafire took up residence on the main platform. 

Lead singer, Ted Bowne belted out song after song in vocal excellence to the people of Dallas as the brisk air really began to set in on North Texas. Passafire pulled out all the hits and kept music lovers in full swing for the entire hour-long set; “Submersible”, “Ghost Man” and “Start From Scratch” to name a few. This was my first time getting to photograph these guys and it was a blast, so much big energy up there! They absolutely killed it until time was up and the guys had to exit the stage. The guys are kicking off a tour as we speak. Snag your tickets here!

The Bud Light stage lit up as a DJ came to spin hot fire for the DRF family, keeping everybody moving and shaking to stave off the crisp winds that were shedding degrees as the final act readied themselves to close out the night.

Switching from the Cali-reggae sound to something more rootsy and worldwide, the D’ras and Sharac band took to the stage once again, this time as a main act, and put on one hell of a performance. These guys are the real deal when it comes to using the whole stage as a playground while delivering powerful lyrics with the biggest smile that can be seen from the way-back. The trombone player commands your attention; he knows how to use that thing and doesn’t mind jumping around with it! This is a band that definitely feeds from the crowd’s energy and gives it back 110% 

After about thirty minutes of an impeccable performance, they once again became the musical support for the next show to grace the stage – The “Original Fireman” himself. Mr. Anthony B, hit the stage running, literally, as he sprinted in place somehow defying gravity with his insane lean angles and over-the-top theatrics that makes him so fun to watch. A performer through and through, and I don’t need to tell you how the festival-goers were reacting!

This was definitely the performance everyone was holding out for. 

The party went on until around eleven o’clock or so as groundskeepers started their task of tidying up for the next day’s activities. The merchendise tents were all closed down and the concert-goers started the mass-exiting of Addison Circle Park. Day one was over and it was a joy to be a part of. I couldn’t wait to see what the next day had in store, hoping the sun would come out a little more!

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