Dallas Reggae Festival: Day Three

The Dallas Reggae Festival in Addison, Texas continued on to its third and final installment on a picturesque Easter Sunday. Fully expected, the ticket-holders were a lot slower to gather, presumably at services and family gatherings (Easter eggs don’t find themselves, you know). Nevertheless, there was still an impressive number of people that decided to take in as much as possible, arriving in time to catch the opening acts getting their chance to show off what they’ve worked so hard to achieve. Music began to fill the air just after noon and we were all ready to receive the good vibes ahead.

Reggae-rockers, Burning Slow, picked up the first opportunity to warm up the PA system on the Bud Light stage and kick off day-three. I’ve run into various members of this band at local reggae shows, and couldn’t have been happier to finally catch them actually performing on stage. They played hard and sounded sweeter live, ending the set with “East Side”, their latest (and my personal favorite) release featuring GHOST.WAV. With multiple members playing more than one instrument, they have a true big-band sound I can’t get enough of.

I noticed more and more reggae-loving souls showing up to once again get their groove on, just in time for the enticing sounds of Dubbest. The crowd enjoyed swaying to their soothing jam style as the crew delivered an exceptional performance on the main stage in the early afternoon. The clouds were still fairly thick, keeping these boys cool as they graciously gave us an Easter show.

The time was around 2:30 pm; the sun was trying to peek through the clouds, kids played frisbee and football in the open grassy areas and doggos wandered around with their owners, enjoying the day just the same. Live-art tents were set up adjacent to the stages where artists put up their work for everyone to enjoy and purchase, local and state police lined the edges of the grounds ensuring a peaceful show (and for those wondering, ganja is still illegal in Texas, but the big cities have somewhat decriminalized it, kindly not interfering with the “good times” people were openly having). 

In the words of Ice Cube, “Today was a good day.”

The schedule stayed prompt and the focus switched back to the Bud Light stage for the last time (the remainder of acts appeared on the main stage). The Irie got up there and put it down on Dallas with a soulful island vibe and pleased us with a very strong and lively set. The Arizona-based crew rocked their sizable audience into a dance-fest for a little over half-an-hour before signing off after a job well done. 

The onslaught of reggae royalty continued that afternoon when Israel Vibration and Roots Radics Band graced the big stage of the DRF. Draped in red and white, singer Lascelle “Wiss” Bulgin captained a rootsy time-machine and floated the attendees through 50 years of music-making by the Kingston legends. Flags waved and hips moved throughout the entire heartfelt performance and messages in between the songs. Their residence on stage lasted a full hour and carried us into the evening before handing the mic off to the following band.

The sun was in the process of clocking out for the day when Fortunate Youth unpacked their instruments and unleashed a taste of Hermosa Beach on us. The entire place went up-in-smoke as Dan Kelly stood up there with his ear-pleasing crew and gave us everything we wanted. If you’ve ever been to a FY show, you know what it feels like to be serenaded by this man. He’s as genuine of an artist as they get with a sound that’s truly unique and a band that doesn’t quit. I couldn’t help but get on stage with them for a couple shots just for bragging rights! 

Inner Circle wrapped up the Dallas Reggae Festival with the final performance of the 2023 event. The Bad Boys of Reggae lit up the night when they stepped on stage with a high energy, nonstop presentation of who they are. These guys have been around a while, forming in 1968 in Kingston, Jamaica. Trevor “Skatta” Bonnick sang his heart out for 60+ minutes to a receiving crowd, topping off the night with the ever-famous COPS theme, Bad Boys. The crowd sang back every single word at the top of their lungs, as expected from such an iconic tune.

I had so much fun meeting so many new people and seeing old friends, enjoying everything the fest  had to offer. I was very impressed with the diversity and inclusion of all the different types of reggae-driven bands the DRF secured for their lineup, along with the delicious Caribbean food vendors and artisan merch booths set up all weekend long. Security did a fantastic job, and did it with such generosity at every turn. It was a bummer to see Collie Buddz drop off the bill, but the entire weekend  was a huge success in my eyes, and I’m absolutely stoked for the next one. Huge thanks to Top Shelf Music and the Dallas Reggae Festival for this cultural experience!

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