Today we begin a series of interviews with people who are involved in the 2017 Austin Reggae Festival. Leading off this series is Angela Tharp, who owns Flamingo Cantina on 6th Street. Angela is also responsible for booking the bands that perform at the 2017 Austin Reggae Festival. Hear all this outstanding dub / world music by purchasing your advance tickets now!
QUESTION: Over the years, you’ve been involved with booking a lot of great acts at the Austin Reggae Festival. What’s your favorite musical memory from the past and why?
We have been blessed with so many fabulous artists in previous festivals that it is difficult to pick just one, but Israel Vibration put on a particularly moving show a few years back. Seeing Wiss and Skelly performing and dancing on their crutches was overwhelming. To realize what they achieved and obstacles they overcame to be on that stage, is extraordinary. From suffering with childhood polio in Jamaica, to becoming international performers, that’s a big huge accomplishment. And, the artists are the sweetest people with positive outlooks on life.
QUESTION: Which bands are you most excited about for the 2017 Austin Reggae Festival and why?
All of our headlining acts are first-time performers to the festival. Tarrus Riley and Dean Fraser and the Blak Soil Band plus Jesse Royal and Akae Beka (of Midnite) can be considered conscious reggae artists with roots in Rastafarianism. All have strong consciousness-leaning themes. Each bring their individual styles and message.
Tarrus Riley is more of a contemporary reggae artist with crossover appeal; Fraser is one of my personal favorite reggae musicians, and I’m excited to see him perform.
Jesse Royal is considered one of the “Reggae Revival” artists coming out of Jamaica. This is a conscious movement back to roots reggae and all that embodies in life and music, so Austin is in for a treat.
Fans of Midnite will be pleased to see Akae Beka with his band “Sunstar and Moon Roots Reggae” perform. It is kind of perfect that he closes out the festival on Easter Sunday. A Rastafarian and spiritual artist, Vaughn Benjamin left Midnite and evolved as “Akae Beka.” He cites, “I Enoch LXVIII and XCVI Life changes, convictions, and revelations compel in this new name the Akae Beka. John 16:13, 14. Some feel besides being a performer and spiritual leader, that he is also a prophet.
QUESTION: As it has in year’s past, the 2017 Austin Reggae Festival benefits the Central Texas Food Bank. Why do you think these two entities are such a good fit?
Many artists hail from lesser-developed countries, and they are no strangers to poverty and what that means. All of the artists have been happy to lend their name to this wonderful cause. It may be hard to believe but there are many that go hungry in our area; the Central Texas Food Bank fills a great need. Pairing the food bank with the Austin Reggae Festival makes sense as it brings the issue to the forefront and makes folks conscious of our neighbor’s needs and how we can all help.