Now in its sixth year, One Love Festival’s inception marked the 30th anniversary of Reggae legend Bob Marley’s concert of the same name, and remains true to the ethos of peace and love, truth and rights, equality and justice. From 16th-18th August, Damyns Hall Aerodrome in Essex will host the UK’s number one Reggae and Dub festival. The event has grown year on year, and now has no fewer than six different arenas. This festival is bringing together some of the industry’s greatest veterans, alongside the rising stars of tomorrow – showcasing the very best of UK soundsystem culture.
Embarrassingly, despite living my life for Reggae, this will be my first time. So what am I expecting? I have only heard positive things about the previous events which is said to promote a laid back, family friendly, safe environment. It is great to see an independent non-commercial approach as a nice contrast to many of the major UK festivals.
There is a huge line up with far too many names too mention them all…and each and everyone has their own taste but I thought I would have to recommend a few personal highlights:
Friday is all about the Dub Shack, which is hosting many of the finest UK soundsystems. This includes the mighty Aba Shanti, Channel One, and Jah Tubbys – who are bringing out their army of microphone talent with Errol Bellot, Dixie Peach, Gregory Fabulous, Professor Natti, Suga D, Stamina Li and Maki Banton. I’m going to make sure I check out the legendary David Rodigan on the One Love stage. Other acts on the day include Kris Kemist, the man behind Reality Shock Records and legendary Jamaican toaster Ranking Joe in the Lively Up Yourself arena, as well as the talented voice of Mr Williamz on Saxon Soundsystem. The act that excites me most is the veteran Fatman International Sound, who as father and son have been fiercely representing North London for over 40 years. I’m going prepared for serious amounts of dub-plates galore from every era.
Saturday sees the One Love Stage brimming with talent, including U Roy, Black Uhuru and Ijahman Levi. For all the Digi Dub – UK steppas fans can head over to the Dub Shack for Iration Steppas, who’ll be unleashing some madman Dub in a year 3000 stylee. The same area also hosts one of the most exciting things happening on the world scene with Digital Dubs. Coming out of Brazil, these guys are causing a storm. I’m also looking forward to catching one of the unsung heroes of the festival, Instrument of Jah Soundsystem, who I’ve been following since their arrival on the scene five years ago. For me they are one of the rising stars in the Soundsystem world and can’t wait to them play in Dub Shack area on Saturday 12 – 2pm. On the day I will also be in the Lively Up Yourself tent checking out Nick Manasseh, one of the UK’s finest producers, as well as Bunnington Judah and High Elements. This year also see the Roots Lab and Unity Hi-fi area with DJs from the Roots Lab Intl online radio station playing all weekend. On the Saturday you can hear the man like Jah Lingwa, field marshal of the long time Brixton roots sound RDK Hi-Fi, and Sammy Dread out of Leeds, of Iration Steppas, Peoples FM and Instrument of Jah fame. For me, I have to admit I am usually more into Soundsystem culture than live acts, and the treat of the weekend will be to witness the infamous Stone Love Soundsystem ft Rory – my favourite producer in Jamaica right now.
The Sunday line-up is equally exciting, with legends Al Campbell and Joseph Cotton taking the One Love Stage. The treats for me in the Dub Shack will be Miniman with guest singer Earl 16, and another North London legend, Conscious Sounds with microphone talent from Culture Freeman and King General. In other areas I would have to recommend the Dubforce Crew ft Macky Banton and Naomi Dubforce in the Roots Lab area. However, I can see myself spending a lot of my day in the Lively Up Yourself arena for the Battle of the Dubplates. This will feature Soundsystem heavyweights Coxsone, Youthman Promotions, King Tubbys and Heartical who will battle over 5 rounds with the crowd deciding the winner.
Roots Lab radio will be broadcasting 24hrs a day from the camping area, with exclusive guest performers from the festival and teaser for all the fans who won’t be able to make it to the festival to show them what they are missing.
Tickets are priced very fairly compared to a lot of UK festivals with an adult weekend ticket for only £120. If you would like to volunteer in the name of a free ticket they are still looking for crew to help with the site build and take down – for more info, see the website.
For all those who love the sounds of the Caribbean, this is your chance to experience the taste too with a huge range of catering outlets providing authentic soul food to fill your belly. Also expect an array of independent stall holders selling crafts, clothing, cultural items and most importantly records, so you can take some of the music home. There is also an excellent bar run by a local chap, which will be well stocked with all your favourites. One of the other highlights is the cinema and film area running Roots and Reggae related films and documentaries exploring the music and its cultural influences. On the Saturday at 3pm there is an exclusive preview of Bunny Striker Lee’s brand new movie I am the Gorgon in the Saxon Sound marquee, followed with a once in a life time opportunity for questions and answers with the big man himself.
If like me you are a family man, this is a great festival for the kids, with a relaxed and safe environment as well as a whole heap of workshops and other activities in the children’s area. And for those of you scared to go to festivals because of the “toilet thang” – no fears here as the site has excellent facilities including hot showers. Stress heads can relax, spending time in the healing area and chill out zone, with a range of alternative therapies as well as a daily Tai chi classes to start the day in a positive way.
One Love is about the unity and the bond between the brother man and women – a common purpose regardless of religion, race or creed – peace and love to all of mankind. So come one and all unite under the banner of the red, gold and green. Look forward to skanking with some of you there…
For more information and tickets click here.