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Putting Out the Fyre: 10 Caribbean Music Fests That Get It Right

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A general view of atmosphere at Reggae Sumfest on July 28, 2013 in Montego Bay, Jamaica.

A spectacular 2,500-mile island chain, the Caribbean archipelago extends from below the southern tip of Florida to just above the coast of South America. The region’s tropical climate and tranquil beaches, complemented by a vibrant mélange of cultures and indigenous musical styles, have provided spectacular ambience for a wide range of music festivals. Among the earliest was Jamaica’s Reggae Sunsplash, founded in 1978 (Bob Marley performed there in 1979) as a means of enticing visitors to the island during the slow summer tourism season. Forty-one years later, music festivals are held year-round throughout the Caribbean. Utilizing primarily outdoor locations, from intimate rustic spaces to stadium size venues, country, rock, jazz, blues and hip-hop are heard alongside the region’s own calypso, reggae, dancehall, salsa, soca and reggaetón. If the nightmarish tales of FEMA tents and soggy cheese sandwiches associated with the infamous Bahamian bomb have induced festival fear, it’s time to forget the Fyre and consider 10 of the Caribbean’s best music festivals, listed here in alphabetical order. (Click Read More at end of article for full article)

Reggae Sumfest, Montego Bay, Jamaica, July 14-20, 2019

When Reggae Sunsplash vacated its Montego Bay home in 1993, a new reggae festival was created, Reggae Sumfest, and its success quickly surpassed that of its (now defunct) predecessor. In 2016, Sumfest’s future appeared uncertain, at which point American born, Kingston based businessman Josef Bogdanovich, CEO/founder of Downsound Entertainment, purchased the event. Bogdanovich has expanded Sumfest to include social media influencer awards, a music business symposium, an international sound system clash, and two nights of performances by Jamaica’s biggest acts. The 2019 lineup features Rasta roots artists Chronixx, Tarrus Riley, Jah9 and Protoje alongside marquee dancehall names Spice, Elephant Man, Dexta Daps and Spragga Benz and Buju Banton, who fits neatly in both categories. Sumfest has a new presenting sponsor Caribbean Airlines and launches are planned in New York, Miami and London. Says Bogdanovich: “Sumfest delivers a quality production and I intend to establish this Jamaican music festival on an international level that competes with Coachella and Glastonbury.”

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