Uppsala Reggae festival was scheduled to occur this weekend but fell prey to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the promoters of the event came up with a plan to host it virtually on Saturday at the Harry J studios in Kingston.
The organizers of the reggae festival, Yared Tekeste, his wife, and his daughter, spoke in an interview that the move became necessary owing to the impact the pandemic has on the music and culture globally. “This is a way of filling the void that was created in our own hearts and the hearts of all reggae lovers. And we also want to spread some joy and hope that soon enough, we will be able to enjoy our beloved festivals that we might have been taking for granted,” Tekeste said.
From his home in Scandinavia, he and his team along with persons in Jamaica are organizing everything to ensure that all goes well in an effort to keep reggae music alive whilst bringing the best artistes of the genre to the people. “We have partnered with the legendary Harry J Studio in Kingston, where a substantial part of the legendary movie Rockers was filmed. This is a new experience – producing a festival and not being able to be there physically,” he said. “But I am happy that things have actually been working greatly thanks to the team in Jamaica.”
The artistes who will bring this virtual Uppsala to the globe include Lutan Fyah, Kabaka Pyramid, Jesse Royal, Chezidek, Sherieta Lewis, Samory I, Lukie D, Duane Stephenson, Dean Fraser, Mortimer, Chevaughn, and others. During an interview while at rehearsal, Samory I said, “I performed at Uppsala in 2018 and it was huge. Thousands of fans coming together in one space to enjoy reggae music. This time it will be a bit different, but it is always a joy to communicate with the people through music.” He has been given 20 minutes to perform and will be doing a mix of new songs and favorites such as 'Rasta Nuh Gangsta'.
With the event attracting a cover charge, Tekeste expressed that the response to the virtual event has been overwhelming. “A lot of people from Africa and Europe have showed appreciation that the timing of the performances suits them. And it was planned to be that way,” he shared. With the different time zones across the world and the festival targeting a specific market, the live stream from Jamaica will start at 11 o’clock on Saturday morning and end at 7 p.m. For audiences in Europe, the time is 6 p.m. to 2 a.m.
“We will broadcast the world’s best music via Pay Per View TV straight into people’s homes. Real good reggae music, played live and exclusively,” Tekeste describes it.
Pay Per View fees are €8 pre-sale and €10 regular on August 1. Harry J Studios urged fans on social media, “Let’s make this one something to remember!”