This past weekend, music lovers congregated at Santa Barbara’s Live Oak Camp to attend Reggae On The Mountain, the city’s prime hub for honoring the beloved genre. Sporting big name acts such as Steel Pulse, Ky-Mani Marley, and Barrington Levy, I attended the last day (Sunday) of the three-day festival with headliner Ziggy Marley. Along with the music, the festival offered a variety of activities. Dispersed throughout were stands selling handmade clothing and jewelry, a couple of artists painting on a huge block of wood, merchandise and medicinal booths, a variety of food stalls (including a wide selection of vegan options), and, later on in the night, a large campfire to keep patrons warm. Kids played on tree swings and made crafts in the Wellness Village, while their parents danced near the bar as the first inklings of music were heard through the entrance as we walked into day three of the festival.
Quinta Soul, known for their Barrio Roots Reggae and world sounds, started off the afternoon at the Mountain Stage. During their set and the next few acts, festival goers trickled in, some dancing with loved ones, some starting a party solo. Standout Hempress Sativa ended each song with bombastic flourishes, complete with lights flashing in unison. The band jumped to each song with energy, and their rich vocals filled the air with passion.
Hailing from Birmingham, England, singer Pato Banton was infectiously happy, closing his set exclaiming “namaste!” in glee. The band Yellowman (whose hit song “Zungguzungguguzungguzeng” aided one of my favorite New Girl scenes of all time) commanded the stage with comfort and ease. Reggae guru Don Carlos played songs that are fulfilling to the soul, as the audience danced around the stage in a trance.
The act with the most buzz was Ziggy Marley, which probably won’t come as much of a surprise. The son of reggae icon Bob Marley, he proved to be a star in his own right. Walking on stage with confidence, Ziggy sang with authenticity and charm. He arranged each of his live songs in a way that showed care and attention to detail, and it was an apt way to end an exciting night.
Reggae On The Mountain is not only a hub for honoring reggae music, it also boasts a stunning nature backdrop, exciting vendors, and engaging activities for fans of all ages. It’s a must visit for reggae enthusiasts!