Dallas Reggae Festival: Day Two

The first day DRF was in the books. After what seemed like a nap at the hotel, I was up early to unload memory cards and jot down some notes about the previous day’s happenings. I had my usual “festival breakfast” (coffee, bananas, and whatever pastry the hotel has to offer) before getting ready to do it all over again, I couldn’t wait to get going. I finished off my morning sustenance and prepared for departure, mentally thumbing through my “did-I-forget-something” checklist as the clock stared at me, threatening tardiness if I didn’t move on…

Saturday was the middle day of the festival along with being the first long day. The sky was overcast, but the temps were higher. The common areas of Addison Circle Park were already buzzing with locals getting their morning walks in, many walking dogs and enjoying the exceptional spring day that was upon them. The festival entry line was almost non-existent when security started letting patrons in around 12 noon, allowing me to get in quick and go find a spot to put my chair and settle in for a day of wonderful roots, rock and reggae. On to the show!

The day’s performances were spearheaded by local reggae outfit, Idoljob, grabbing the first slot to get the festival-goers in the mood for the full day of reggae beats ahead.

The Arlington music-makers had a crowd that doubled in size before the end of their set, pleasing established fans and generating new ones.

The set sounded amazing and we even got a taste of some freshly recorded material! After helping a little with their load-out, I reset, then meandered my way to the big stage for the following artist up to bat.

Making a trip from the west coast to Dallas, Eli-Mac jumped on stage next with band Eureka Sound to show DFW how she does music! The whole stage was used for an energetic performance, sometimes slowing down for a serious message of love and togetherness, showing a softer side and connecting with the fans (which she had no shortage of in the crowd). After her set, the former American Idol contestant snuck out from the artist area backstage and mingled with her followers to sign autographs and hand out hugs.

By this time, the clouds broke and the sun was in full effect, catching many people by surprise as they found a few trees with shade to huddle up under. Jamaican roots-reggae group Culture took to the main stage with their flavor of throwback classics, backed by the D’ras and Sharac band. Jamaican and Rasta flags were flying high during their set, the crowd showing lots of love and support for the industry veteran.

Changing up the sound with the next performance, Uruguayan–Argentine rapper, singer, songwriter and reggae musician, Alika (with band backing by Quinto Sol), belted out her magic with cultural flair. Singing many verses with a latin tongue, there was definitely a party on stage, as well as in the crowd, with folks dancing and singing without a care in the world! Once her set concluded, DJ’s spun dancehall tunes on the Bud Light stage one’s-and-two’s creating a nightclub style gathering for everyone to keep dancing to while bands loaded in and out in the background.

The chilly evening air started settling in when south Florida’s Artikal Sound System cranked up the heat for Dallas, exuding the same energy on this stage as they did on the Cali Vibes Festival stage just a couple months previous. Clouds of smoke rose from the audience during the song “When I Wanna” (for obvious reasons if you’ve ever heard it…) and this crowd must have known it was coming, they were well-prepared.

Logan Rex seduced the festival-goers for a solid hour before bidding farewell and making way for the dancehall royalty that would be coming up shortly.

After a quick break while the Bud Light stage DJ kept the vibes high between set breakdowns, The original female dancehall DJ, Sister Nancy, stepped up to bring the house down. It was very evident there were a lot of people there to witness her in-person for the first time, the crowd energy was BIG. She worked the stage, bringing her unmistakable sound from 1982 all the way into 2023, and I don’t think she’s planning on stopping anytime soon. She finished off the evening with the well-known reggae anthem “Bam Bam” before bidding Dallas a good night, making the stage available for Jah Messenger himself!

It was a wild sight to see The Messenger, Jepther “Luciano” McClymont, in the heart of Texas as the final act of the night. Once on the same label as Sizzla, Capleton and Cocoa Tea, Luciano gave Addison a taste of the past with reggae anthems and tunes from his reign on the charts during the nineties. The Jamaican and Rasta flags were flying high once again during his set, which was preceded by a performance from the D’ras and Sharac band, remaining on stage to back Luciano musically. The stage lighting and sound was on-point, and the show was outstanding with massive roots vibes.

It was once again that time, vendors were shut down and dark, signaling the end of a good night. Some food trucks stayed open as long as possible to accommodate the munchie-stricken patrons as they made their way to the exit. Everybody was in great spirits, laughing and exchanging stories on the way out, excited for Sunday’s festivities (myself included!).

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