Monday, March 14, 2005


With weather about as nice can be found anywhere, The 3rd Annual Langerado Music Festival arrived at Markam Park in Sunrise, Florida. It was a two day “Jam Band” festival. This might not normally have drawn our attention but recent Reggae Grammy Winner and long time star of the Jamaican Music Scene, Toots and The Maytals were a featured act Saturday afternoon. All together, the two days were filled with over two dozen bands, many of which we had never heard or even heard of.

Arriving, we found a parking lot with license plates from all over the north east. One of our crew claimed we had actually gone through some kind of time portal to a Woodstock-era 1968 going by how a large contingent of the crowd was dressed along with the spliffs and good cheer we encountered. The crowd mood and great weather helped but it was obvious that everything was very well organized by the festival promoters. It was very much a “One Love” vibe going on from the moment we entered the Park’s gates. It is a big park and a great setting for a concert festival. Three stages would keep the music going strong from the 11:30 AM start to the 9 PM finish each day and we found everything running pretty much right on schedule throughout. Again, a “Big-Up” to the promoters. We missed some of the early acts on Saturday – we really came to see Toots and The Maytals who pumped out a tight hour of Reggae/Ska Riddums from 3:30 to 4:30. As the longest established band on the bill, Toots said from the stage, ''Today I'm a teacher.'' And he delivered a great primer on the Roots Rock Reggae Music. A little research indicates a lot of Jam Band fans are Reggae Music fans too. Bob Marley images could be seen more than any other on every type of clothing and bag you could think of. Music vendors all carried big inventories of Reggae CDs and DVDs. And while there were not many Rasta’s in attendance, there were plenty of dreadlocks flowing. Toots delighted the crowd and certainly made several thousand people into bigger Reggae fans with his set.

Let’s talk about some of the other bands we got to hear. The stand-outs seemed to be on Sunday, spectacular day number 2. We were very glad we got there early enough to hear The Wrinkle Neck Mules, a five piece band out of Richmond, Virginia, who play a blend of country music that tips towards rock as well as traditional forms to put together a great opening set for the day. We’re hoping to get a recording of their set – very fortunate for lovers of Jam band music, elaborate personal recording set-ups are part of the scene. Next we heard California’s Donavon Frankenreiter who’s three piece band had the crowd singing along to a rockin’ set – we’ll take a recording of that one too. So as not to get repetitive, even though there were only occasional excursions into a Reggae beat, the tunes were dynamic and energized all day. You gotta check out the highly energized funk machine of Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe – another great set. As the day worked toward a close, improvisational trio Medeski Martin & Wood churned out a high octane blend of sound that led into the second performance by String Cheese Incident. Colorado’s String Cheese Incident headlined both days with the final sets from the main stage. In the tradition of the granddaddy of Jam Bands, The Grateful Dead, the two shows were very different from each other but both were filled with a broad mix of extended riddums and styles from Bluegrass to otherworldly improvisational Rock to nicely laid down Reggae vibes. We didn’t know many of these bands but all we can say is IRIE!

The thing that stands out from all of these performances is the joyous spirit infused in everything from Toots to String Cheese. The joy filled the crowd, no doubt helped by the clouds of herb and incense floating on the breeze throughout the two days. Along with the friendly crowd and great music, you could find all kinds of crafts and arts, all kinds of food and juices plus a Rain Forrest “misting” tent for those who needed to cool off and activities for kids. Festival organizers had people constantly picking up trash and even the portable toilets were kept in decent shape. This team has their act together. Who knows who will be on the bill next year – hopefully a Reggae act (Lucky Dube, Steel Pulse or a Sly & Robbie Dub set would make a good fit), but, if you like more than just Reggae and you want to sample the work of some of the best musicians around, put Langerado on your calendar for next March – – see ya there!

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