Reggae Fest spices up Bayfront
Dexter Baxter is the kind of charismatic host who couldn't be satisfied with duffs on a blanket. No. The front man for the band Uprising wanted the audience up, on their feet, and torsos a'swivel. At the very least, he suggested: "Get something a...
Dexter Baxter is the kind of charismatic host who couldn't be satisfied with duffs on a blanket. No. The front man for the band Uprising wanted the audience up, on their feet, and torsos a'swivel. At the very least, he suggested: "Get something and wave it!"
Baxter got his wish, and people got up and moved per his instructions: Hips to the left, hips to the right. Baxter simulated a sexier version of hula hoop movements.
He leapt off the stage and onto speakers, where he oozed and flirted and seduced listeners.
"Cause my body's too bootylicious for you, babe," he mashed Destiny's Child lyrics whimsically into the dance demo.
The local reggae group's set marked a shift in tempo during Saturday's fifth annual Bayfront Reggae Fest at Bayfront Festival Park, where eight bands shared the stage starting in the late morning with the Twin Cities-based, podcast-famous, Caribbean-music-playing Sound of Fujun. Headliner Michael Rose, who was once a member of the Grammy Award winning band Black Uhuru, was scheduled to perform after the News Tribune went to press.
By mid-afternoon, there were about 1,200 people at the park. Temperatures were in the upper 80s with a bit of wind and brief rain that fell while the Boston-based, multi-instrumental band Zili Misik played world music, starting with Haitian fare, and later Brazilian and African rhythms.
There were Jamaican flags and knit rasta hats. Bob Marley's likeness on
T-shirts and blankets. Tube dresses in every combination of red, yellow and green. Fruity rum drinks, Red Stripe beer, and turkey legs with squirts of jerk sauce. There were hula hoopers, Frisbees and jugglers.
Zachery Oie, 19, tossed juggling sticks while Max Dakota & Modern Life played. Later in the day, he put away the sticks in favor of a trash bag. Oie had volunteered for cleanup crew so he could get into the show. He said he loves the lifestyle the music represents.
"The culture is awesome. Where else are you going to get jerk chicken around here?" he said.
Repeat performer Queen Omega sang with a brass section, and led the audience in a singalong of the lyrics "I am a Ganja Baby."
Joseph Gitau of Woodbury, Minn., waved a flag from Kenya and took photographs of dozens of audience members holding it -- although he wouldn't say why.
For Reggae Fest inventor Janna Dreher, whose love of Caribbean lifestyle is the genesis of the event, the end of Uprising's set meant it was time to relax and enjoy the rest of the day. She is the band's keyboard player.
"I love reggae music," she said, taking a pull from a slice of orange. "It's my passion. It started with Bob Marley and connecting with friends who are into it. Friendships grow in this culture."
Dreher said she hopes to expand next year's festival to a two-day event with an all-encompassing world music theme, including salsa, Cuban and African music.