(And Continues to Need more Like it)
Bob Marley sang, "One good thing about music when it hits you, you feel no pain". Well, I am feeling all the aches now from standing up for hours to experience the Lost in Time Festival (Lit Festival) that was held on February 26, 2023 at Hope Gardens and I am smiling. My mind is a little bit freer and I feel renewed like I got some well-needed sleep. Mind you, I haven't really slept in two (2) days but that's what a good concert does to you - it makes you not mind the pain, the tiredness and you are reminded through the conscious lyrics of Reggae, that life is beautiful. Jamaica needed this. Reggae, our majestic melodious child, has been sleeping for too long. I personally feel this is the awakening (or at least hope so).
Rightfully set in the nation's Reggae month, veteran musician Protoje and his team did a fantastic job from promotion to performances. Using the historic and gorgeous Hope Gardens instantly set the pace for a tranquil and electrifying night. It was love under the stars. The gardens drummed away to delightful people from all walks of life, feisty energy, vivacious lights and some perfect-feeling performances. Hands and voices went up in unity. Joy was the order of the night. The first performance I caught was Mortimer. The song I love and introduced to many, titled 'Lightning' wasn't the only song that touched my soul. His hits include Fight the Fight, Style and Grace, Careful, Love Vibrations and more. He was a wonderful start to the night's events. His mellow and magical voice had the crowd rocking and singing along.
After Mortimer's performance, I had to get some food as I travelled for hours from one end of Jamaica by public transportation to get to the LIT Festival. I wanted to try Kamila's Kitchen as I saw she had some real good ital food. I was prepared to be unimpressed though as I have experienced ital food that leaves much to be desired. But mon, the Black Bean Burger surprise mi taste buds! It was good. Kamila came to us one by one in the line to get things moving faster. Thousands attended the Lit Festival (by my amateur estimate) and the food lines were full. So, that was a nice touch by Kamila. I wished I had visited all the vendors because I love the food and craft of live shows. It all looked lovely from the quick look around I took. Also, big up to the stage techs who allowed me to charge my phone as my battery was out, There's not one person I met that wasn't kind.
Up next, I experienced Jesse Royal which was another surprise for me performance-wise. I've only listened to a couple of Jesse's songs but have known of him for a while. I never actually got around to listening to more of his music but now, I definitely will. Jesse's songs are the kind of musical notes to start your morning to set a positive tone for the day. His hits include Woke Up This Morning, Modern Day Judas, Rich Forever, Generation and more. Jesse also performed with Protoje, Chronixx, Popcaan and that was a vibe! Enjoyed the brotherhood and the playful banter. It was like they were in the studio, having fun, respecting each other's talents and having a genuine musical connection.
After Jesse came the artiste many of us brought the tickets to see. She has the voice called the ancient future. Through the pandemic, many overplayed her tunes that never got stale. She was introduced as World Ike (Lila Ike). Wearing her first album's cover attire, bursting with vibrancy. Even with a hoarse voice, she soldiered through, played her guitar when the aura was off and went back to jumping and kicking after the medics assisted those who fainted. On that note, each artist who knew of someone fainting in their set addressed it immediately and tried to ensure the person got the assistance they needed before they continued. Some say people fainted due to dehydration. One artist gently reminded that the patrons should ensure they are hydrated and fed.
Near the end of her set, dancers came out with nuff vibes, moves and fire. Lila of course big dem up all by name. I like Lila's dynamic as a performer. Her music and performances encompass classy to ghetto greatness. No classism round 'ere. Lila's performance organically led to Protoje. Protoje's performance and his surprise performers were probably the brightest highlight of the night. We saw Popcaan wid him mad (mean that very affectionately), fun self adding that Dancehall spice to the set. Of course the crowd went wild, we love Popcaan and Dancehall. Aidonia as a surprise performance was like getting a Christmas cake in February. We wanted him to stay longer.
Ky-Mani Marley's presence was so appreciated. He sounded good, reminding us that we are in love with a rasta man. Chronixx oh gosh! Excitement buss weh like kite. Many of us haven't seen or heard much from Chronixx in years. I can't forget Sevana. I was personally hoping to see her in the line-up of performances when the concert's flyer came out. She wasn't but queen showed up in all her sweet glory, serenading us with collab song with Protoje "Sudden Flight" before she dived into Mango. Nuff a wi love Reggae and Dancehall music like Mango.
Protoje sang some of his old hits and new hits, many sang along word by word and moved beat by beat. He gave the crowd exactly what they needed and wanted with hits like Blood Money, Bout' Noon, Switch it Up, Like Royalty, his famous collab songs with Lila Ike such as In Bloom and more. The crowd was chanting for Flames with Chronixx and their request was answered. Protoje and Chronixx closed the show, with protoje asking 'do you like it?'. No, we loved it...and would love more shows like these in Jamaica. So, when will the next live Reggae show be, everybody? The industry needs to unite, organize and showcase Reggae a yard, abroad and claim its global mark because Reggae and Dancehall are legendary. I really hope this is the beginning of a local and worldwide show-up for the lucrative movement our music is. Reggae and Dancehall to Jamrock and to di worl' always!
Okay, so I am writing this tired and will add more details in the morning as well as address any edits (be patient with me, sleep calls). But, I had to get some of what I felt about Lit Festival out before Monday week and life gets in the way of writing as it does these days. Can't end this without bigging up the organizers, the tech, the vendors, everyone who made this event what it was. We often miss the details of these events and only see the performers but even if someone had to just put in a single screw, you are appreciated for this exquisite experience.
For those who missed the concert, here's a link to a video we put together with some of the highlights. Enjoy!