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Winter Reggae In Paradise II


Cramer's Beach

Stage Setup

Jahcob Seed

Jahcob Seed


Ankh Watep



Kenny Byron

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The trend of Jamaican music lately has been to re-record old tunes or to create new songs using a riddim from days gone by.  St. Croix ripped a page out of Jamaica’s songbook this past weekend at the 2nd annual Winter Reggae In Paradise festival, doing a modern-day rendition of a selection made famous by Gregory Isaacs in the mid-80’s: “Private Beach Party”.

While the turnout of people from ‘foreign’ was fairly decent considering the lineup was not announced until just 3 weeks before the event, what was sorely lacking at this event was love and support from the local Crucian massive.  Clearly the rains, the lack of sponsorship this year and inadequate promotion contributed to the dismal turnout.  The festivities that brought Cruzian Christmas to an end the day before (which included an early morning Jouvay) certainly didn’t help matters.  But to this writer, it was the lack of artists who regularly play in St. Croix that contributed the most to a lack of turnout.

In 2006, Ronnie Benjamin, Sr. performed at WRIP.  While it had been 16 years since his last concert in St. Croix, the elder Benjamin had been extremely popular there “back in the day”.  His appearance last year brought out a whole generation of people that were nowhere to be found for WRIP II.  I believe Pressure was the only artist to perform at this year’s festival who had done any concerts on the island since the last festival. 

The music got started at around 6:00 with Jahcob Seed, a 6-piece band that includes brothers Ludrick, Boone and Kadaf Lake.  The hour-long set, which included “Lost From Creation” and the title track from “Heed Deh Call”, was an excellent beginning to the night’s music.  Most of the songs were of newer materials, including my favorite selections “Babylon Waters” and Earth Food”, which will be on Jahcob Seed’s next album.

Unfortunately, neither the bass player nor the drummer for Root One was on the premises at their appointed time, which resulted in my biggest disappointment of the night – Neither Mada Nile nor Junior Daniel would perform.  Having interviewed Mada Nile the day before, I knew she was very excited about her set.  She did her best to stay strong and enjoy the music in spite of her visible disappointment. 

After a brief set change, the Afrikan Roots Lab, consisting of Sly on Drums, Ronnie Benjamin on Bass, Edmund Fieulleteau on Guitar, and Antoine on Keyboards took the stage.  The 1st ARL artist to perform was Ankh Watep.  He got things rolling with a new tune called “A-1 Sound”, before moving into the selections “Out of Control” and “Massive Hysteria” from the Talkin’ Roots compilation.  He capped off his brief but moving set with “Jah Have Mercy”. 

Next up was Ikahba, whose new album “Blood Sweat and Tears” will be on the streets soon.  His 45 minute set included “Let Jah Take Control”, “War Monger”, “Sight It Already” (Jah Mek Us), “Empress”, “Wha Happen To Dem” and “Blood Sweat And Tears”. 

Dezarie was the next Afrikan Roots Lab singer to grace the stage.  Just prior to her set, Bogle took the microphone and reasoned with the people about the people of VI’s lack of support for VI reggae.  The full text of Bogle’s speech appears at the end of this review. 

Dezarie’s rendition of “Hail Jah” always gives me goose bumps, but on this night, the water was not just falling from the skies.  That song alone was worth the entire cost of my trip, but she sang for another hour or so including “What A Morning”, “Sing Out”, “Set The Flame”, and “Rastafari”, and new tune in which Dezarie’s incredible vocals hits new heights. 

Midnite was the last segment of the Afrikan Roots Lab portion of WRIP II.  An entire year having lapsed since last hearing them, I was well ready, especially because I was anxious to hear what the new lineup of musicians would sound like.  With Gainde on bass, Edmund Fieulleteau and Kenny Byron on guitar, and Ankh Watep on keyboards, Vaughn rolled into “Zion Pavilion”.  Edmund was the guitar player during Dezarie’s 2005 tour, and Kenny played guitar with the Benjamin brothers when they first took the name Midnite.  While Ron’s bass on songs like “Proceed”, “Jah Feed I” and “Great Zimbabwe Walls” was excellent, it was no replacement for his amazing organ playing which is the epicenter of Crucian roots music.  To me, the essence of Midnite is the power that is generated from Vaughn’s words and lyrics molded with the simple mastery of his brother’s keyboard sounds and amazing harmonies.  At times, I could hear bits and pieces of that from Ankh Watep, but in general, the vibes were not nearly as sharp as I have seen Midnite deliver.  Of course, this was their first concert together as a unit, and I am certain that things will gel in the 15 concerts they will give prior to my seeing them in Long Beach next month. 

At one point during the music, Vaughn called Jah Rubal up to the stage, and he proceeded to chat “Ganja Man” on the Proceed riddim.  Towards the end of the set, Vaughn passed the microphone to the slew of chanters gathered in one corner of the stage.  First Massiah belted out “Come Hail Jah”.  He was followed by Revolution and then Volcano’s “Senseless Killing”, Basa singing “Visions Of Zion” while the band played the riddim to Merciless.  Ras Calle was up next with “Jah Stranga” and Sekhu finished out the 30 minute segment with “Ganja Weed Burning”.  Midnite finished their music off with Bushman, and were called back on the stage to sing “Mama Africa”. 


Cramer's Beach

Jahcob Seed

Mada Nile


Ankh Watep



Ankh Watep

Jah Rubal





Ras Calle


Dean Pond


Pressure & Revalation



After another brief set change, MC Bogle introduced the Dub 340 Band, which is comprised of Dean Pond on Drums, Ryan Wilson on Bass, Jerry Simon on Guitar, and Katalyss and Jason Farmer on keyboards.  This is one band with a BIG sound to them.  Though I had heard both Ryan and Jerry perform before on dozens of occasions, each of them played way beyond their prior levels.  Dean Pond is one TUFF drummer, and Katalyss’ boards added a rich texture to the music.  After an intro song, Bogle introduced Iba who began his 30-minute set with a nice nyah-flavored song “Free”.  

Revalation was the next artist to take the stage.  I was very impressed with the one song this artist had delivered at the I Grade Showcase at Club 54 a few nights earlier, but the Dub 340 Band took Revalation even higher.  He started his set off with a nice acapella before tearing into “Fire Burning”.  Revalation has an excellent stage presence for such a young artist, and definitely impressed me and lots of others in attendance.  Though many enjoyed some of his dancehall tunes, I was most appreciative of the more roots flavored tunes like “Things And Times” and “Live It Up Right” the latter of which will be contained on the forthcoming Studio 340 compilation “Total Oneness”.  After his set was finished, MC Bogle bawled out “Me ago break all the rules.  Me no care if the promoter fire me, but Revalation come back pon stage and give the people one more tune.  Let him go.”  Revalation gladly obliged and sang “Brighter Days”. 

Pressure closed out WRIP II with a strong hour-long set.  Buss Pipe featured songs from “The Pressure Is On”, along with selections from his upcoming albums with Studio 340 and Jamaican producer Don CorleonPressure showed his great musical versatility jumping from songs like “Love And Affection” to wicked chants on “Ganja” and “Ancient Woman”.  Buss Pipe blessed the people with a big new ganja tune he just recorded entitled “Weed Is My Life”.  He closed out his set at around 2:00 with “Everything Will Be Fine”, but the people wanted more, so he returned for a “Zion Is Home” sendoff, and the curtains were closed on the second annual Winter Reggae In Paradise festival.

In an article that appeared on the eve of this festival, one of the organizers said the event is meant to be a showcase for the artists, so that promoters from around the world could travel and see them perform in their own home.  If that is one of the goals of WRIP, then it would behoove the promoters to get the festival organized well in advance of the time allotted for this year’s festival because ones and ones need to plan their trip, especially around the holidays.  This writer also believes that more people would be attracted to come from foreign if more bands that often play stateside, such as Batch, Ras Attitude, Bambu Station and Inner Visions were invited to showcase their music. If all the people who play Cruzian roots music are united on the same stage for an event, I have no doubt that the multitudes of lovers of this music from the four corners will come together to partake in such a unification session. – Daniel Frankston

Check out our WRIP II Slideshow

Ryan Wilson

Jerry Simon




Some Cruzial Words from WRIP Festival MC Bogle:

Some Cruzial Words from WRIP Festival MC Bogle:
(Click on image to hear speech)

“I want to thank everyone for coming out and supporting.  And I was asked to come out and reason some more about what’s going on here on our island, and how the people are not supporting our VI artists.  Their VI artists.  Reggae is our culture.  Calypso is our culture.  But then on one side we only want to support calypso.  We don’t want to support reggae.  How can you awake at 5:00 in the morning, to awaken your children to go to Jouvay, where they learn nothing but dance, and we naturally know how to dance.  And you yourself cannot come out to something like this, where you can set an example and learn something about your culture, and take it back home to your children.  That is why today, some of the youths are not interested in their culture.  Because all they see is BET and MTV and all those reality shows where you know not what’s going on.  All the different things that go against the philosophy of life, and the way Jah create things.  And then you have the television, or must I say, the Tell-Lie-Vision, and then coming out into our community and portraying it to others.  Not forgetting the violence, because just when we thought we had a peaceful festival, it showed last night that we still cannot behave our self.  Because amongst the children in the village last night, someone thought it was cool to take someone else’s life. And we have no respect for each other’s life.  Because if you can walk up to a man and watch him in his eye, and take a knife and cut his throat, or stab him in his stomach, or take a gun and shoot him down, you have no respect for no one else’s life.  We are losing our people, and we must talk about this, and we must stop it. 

"Reggae music is something that teaches you something.  A lot of things that I have known.  A lot of things that I did in school, and was able to pass my exams, I learned from reggae music.   And I’m sure a lot of you here have learned a lot of things from reggae music.  When you hear music from Midnite Band like Great Zimbabwe Walls, how many of you here knew about the great Zimbabwe walls before you heard that song from Midnite Band?  So this is what I am talking about.  So I’m telling you, this is the time to release your youths to concerts like these, and stop waiting to bring an artist from Jamaica to think that your youths can learn something.  We teach the same thing and more. And when you come and support a show like this which is put on by people from this island.  Live here.  Work here.  The money stays here. It goes nowhere.  But when the artists come from abroad, they take the 10, 20 thousand dollars and they leave the next morning without even purchasing a cup of tea. And if you look around the grounds today, you don’t see any big banner that says none of the corporate companies on St. Croix or in the Virgin Islands supporting an event like this.  So you must know that its brothers here that put their hand in their pocket and take it out to put on a function like this.  Some people might say I talk too much, but that is a gift that Jah gave to me.  Some people get a gift to draw.  Some people get a gift to drive. Some people get a gift to fly.  You’re not going to tell a pilot that he flies too much.  You’re not going to tell the Captain of the boat that he rides the sea too much.  So how can you tell me, who get the gift from Jah to talk, that I talk too much.  I don’t talk foolishness.  I bring information that is truth.  I bring information that is truth like the Senators getting $20,000 raise, the Lieutenant Governor $50,000 raise, the Governor $70,000 raise, while our schools have no books, and are in need of repairs.  There are no after-school programs for the youths.  I must bun a fire.  So if you are with me, let me hear you say more fire! More Fire!!!”


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