Sweet 16: For Reggae Fest, it’s steady as she goes

May 23, 2007 at 10:06 pm

Reggae Fest is 16 now — old enough to notice the opposite sex, get a driver’s permit, obsess over college applications and slather on the zit cream. But none of that’s gonna happen. This festival is about rocking, and rocking steady.

The annual two-day event, presented over Memorial Day weekend by Bisig Impact Group, hasn’t changed much, Bisig promotions manager Jennifer Washle says. “We add a little bit of flavor each year to spice it up. We feel like people rarely get this type of opportunity.”

Zuma Hi-Fi, of Ann Arbor, Mich., will once again headline the Sunday night portion. The ensemble is capitalizing on what seems to be a growing wave of appreciation for reggae.

“It’s on the up and up. A lot of hardcore dancehall artists are getting radio airplay,” says Zuma’s Billy the Kid. “That wasn’t really happening four or five years ago. People are enjoying the music in the clubs and enjoying dancing to it. I’m a DJ, too, and I go out to a lot of different nights, and people dance at the reggae night more than any other kind of music.”

Of course, a Reggae Fest axiom says the spice isn’t limited to the stage. Café Kilimanjaro closed its brick-and-mortar restaurant earlier this year but still maintains a catering operation. Those folks will be on hand to add culinary authenticity, selling jerk chicken and other Jamaican cuisine that will put you into an island state of mind — without having to buy a plane ticket.

“They come for the food,” says Almira Allred, president of the Jamaican Association of Louisville. “We can’t sell the food fast enough.”

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