The Review of Kaya Fest…He Said/ She Said || Caribbean Event Review
Kaya Fest was an all day star-filled musical event while focusing on creating public awareness on the many uses of the cannabis plant.
In addition to the concert Kaya Festalso hosted a free symposium on April 21st featuring a panel of experts in the field of medical and industrial cannabis as well as the regulation aspects of the plant. Medical Cannabis has recently been legalized in the state of Florida. The many health benefits of the cannabis plant have been reported to include treatment of glaucoma, control epileptic seizures, stop cancer from spreading, slow progression of Alzheimer’s disease, ease pain of multiple sclerosis, discomfort of arthritis, treatment of Lupus and Crohn’s disease. The message of Kaya Fest is… Education Before Recreation-Raising consciousness and spreading unity. (Source: http://kayafestivals.com/). Members of the 2BKaribbean team had the pleasure of experiencing the festival and shared their different opinions on the concert from their individual perspectives.
by Marissa Williams
Bayfront in Miami was a good location for this event. Not the best, but definitely good. With the easy accessibility, the large comfortable space for the audience and the nearby sea breeze to absorb the mystics in the air-it definitely set the right tone and flavor for the event. On the other hand, they also seem to have a very strictly enforced time policy which is not always the best idea for Caribbean centric events. Another element that took away from the overall gentle, embracing atmosphere of the concert was the ever present security from LivNation. Many of whom did not seem to be well trained in crowd and people management.
As per usual, any concert headlined by the Marley brothers is bound to attract an eclectic mix of patrons. From the Bobo Shanti brothers with their crowns wrapped tight, to the patrons who associate a reggae festival with Hawaiian t-shirts and coconut drinks; everyone was there in full glory bonded by a love of music, Bob and kaya. It was a fun crew for the most part. It was an interesting mix from all tastes in music and culture.
We walked in to the closing acts of the Sean Paul set, followed by a DJ from Boom 99 who played primarily rap. For me it was the period to fill upon coconut water and corn, and find a spot to settle in for the rest of the night’s festivities. I would admit that even though I understand the desire to cater to all audiences, the DJ could have played a little less rap and hip hop given he was a reggae festival with an audience who would most likely appreciate more of the same.
Wyclef Jean was definitely a performance highlight for me. He engaged the crowd using every medium he could think of, from playing his acoustics with his teeth, to jumping into the crowd and having a chanting session back and forth, to getting his DJ to play classic hits that got the crowd roaring. By the end of the set you forgot that the rain had started. Yaardcore was up next and was the perfect segway into the Marley brothers set. He played conscious hits from way back when conjuring up memories for me of high school days.
The transition period between sets seemed a little longer than usual but thank goodness for good uplifting, positive music to just relax into the moment regardless. The Marley legacy was well represented by performances by Bob Marley’s grandsons. I have watched the development of Jo Mersa (son of Stephen) as a performer over the last few years and he continues to grow from strength to strength. He had a commanding stage presence and strong delivery of his music. Skip Marley (son of Cedella) also graced the stage with an enchanting song encouraging listeners to calm down. His future as a performer is bright. The Marley brothers then blazed on the stage conjuring classics from their father, before, splicing in hits of their own.
Rita Marley gracing the crowd with her presence was definitely a high point for most, as they observed the matriarch of the Marley family in all her glory. Damian Marley’s son was another performance highlight as he grabbed the mike and at such a young age seemed fully focused on entertaining and engaging the crowd. The Marley brothers put together a good set with a mix of their own songs as well as tributes to their father’s legacy. However, their delivery seemed a bit rushed at times. Which was interesting since the transition of their set to Lauryn Hill’s seemed to take more time than it should. Lauryn’s songs are classics, so the crowd was eagerly anticipating her set. For me , it was a bit underwhelming. As intriguing as the Afrocentric remix was on some of her old classics, she seemed to spend the entire set trying to communicate with the acoustic team in the back rather than engaging the audience in front of her. The concert ended abruptly, without warning or goodbyes. And then came those ever friendly LivNation security people again rushing everyone out the door. Did I enjoy this concert- MOST DEFINITELY! Would I fly in on a last minute ticket from Atlanta to see it again-time will tell.
by Jason Walker
Onstage was Sean Paul the current generation of the more successful reggae artist. Sean was going through his hits Fahrenheit was on stage hyping him and the crowd up, Shaun “Copper Shaun” Anderson was providing music from turntables along with Sean Paul’s band bringing live music. Sean had his dancers backing them up creating energy on stage and an audience that were very familiar with his international hits, as he went through his Billboard charting hits. The performance was definitely tailored for this crowd.
Then came the Marleys. The new Marleys for a new generation were Skip Marley and Jo Mersa Marley (Bob’s Grandchildren), they both executed and performed well. This was my first time seeing Skip and he did a good job. He went through his sets like a professional and engaged the crowd. Joe Mersa who also did well, gave us quality music and was almost like a veteran in his execution of stage presence.
SOUND OFF: Were you there? What did you think of Kaya Fest?
Jason Walker21 Posts
Patriot, Jamaican, Caribbean, Pan African, Humanist, Radio Personality, DJ. I have worked over 20 years as a Journalist for Caribbean Today Magazine, WRFG Radio 89.3 FM, Cross Over Media and several media outlets in the Caribbean and the US.