Reggae Rise Up Sweetens Summer with SOJA/Dirty Heads and Upcoming Festival

By Sophie Silverstone

The sweltering midsummer afternoon folds your workday into a hot, dry, blank slate of an evening, and all you can think about is getting away from the heat. But then you think again, “It’s summer in Utah, I should bask in this heat, drink a cold beer, and probably listen to some reggae or something. If for no better reason than to respect the days when it’s cold and snowing, and I can’t do this any old night in the week.” Luck is on your side, and you come to find your favorite reggae band is playing at the Gallivan Center. Or better yet, a reggae band you’ve never even heard of is making a racket tonight and your friend has a ticket just for you, because their summer fling fizzled too soon, and they don’t want to go alone. Before you know it, there you are, enjoying summer to that familiar beat that never fails to make your head nod and remind you, “everything is gonna be alright.”

Reggae Rise Up and X96 presented SOJA and Dirty Heads with special guests RDGLDGRN and The Green at the Gallivan Center, last Thursday, July 6. Utah’s reggae scene, adorned in black, green, red and yellow, turned out in droves, covering Gallivan’s bridge, and filling up the beer garden where the ice skating rink is in the winter. “Eh, I’m on vacation, every single day because I love my occupation…” sang Dirty Heads lead vocalist Jared Watson, taking all 4,000 of us in attendance onto their journey on their summer tour, singing to lit up crowds each night, promoting a positive outlook on life.

If you missed it, do not fret, Reggae Rise Up, (RRU) in building momentum to their seventh annual summer reggae festival in mid August, have plenty of reggae shows coming for Salt Lake this summer. RRU is bringing UB40 & Matisyahu to The Complex on July 22, Tatanka to Club Elevate on July 26, and even some aftermath to the festival on September 22 with Damian Marley at The Depot and September 23 with Tribal Seeds and Pepper.

Reggae Rise Up Festival will be expanding into two full days this year, August 19-20, with 20+ bands lined up. Slightly Stoopid and Citizen Cope are headlining. Supporting acts include Iration, Collie Buddz, J Boog, local band Herban Empire, and many more (full lineup here).

This year it will also be moving from its previous site at Liberty Park to River’s Edge Resort in Heber. RRU will also be incorporating yoga and mural art into the festival as well. Cabins, general, and premier camping are available for lodging, on the same grounds as Bonanza Campout this June.

“We really wanted to have the camping element to the festival this year so people could stay the weekend,” says Adam St. Simons Media Coordinator of RRU, who bounces between Utah, Florida, and Costa Rica, for RRU shows throughout the year. RRU, one of the largest festival brands in the domestic reggae genre (distinguished from roots reggae of Jamaica), produces various reggae shows in each location. March 2018 will be the fourth year of Florida’s RRU Festival, and smaller RRU shows are building towards a full RRU festival in Costa Rica.

“At the core, RRU is a reggae-centric event promotional brand. Its genre specific, with a tight knit community that supports it. Given the accepting and open nature of the community, it lends itself well for engagement.” says St. Simons, who refers to fellow Monterry-based reggae festival, Cali Roots’ slogan ‘It’s a movement,’ as an example of the scene, “It really is a movement. We really do feel the rise of reggae music in American culture. It’s been a long time happening; with everything we’re seeing in the domestic reggae scene. It was inspired by Jamaica and roots reggae, and carries on the message of positivity and social consciousness.”

As you depart the Gallivan Center that early July night, nearly 10pm and it is still barely light out, you realize there is still yet so much summer to soak in, and so many more outdoor concerts yet to see. Cheers to sunshine, music, and positivity.

This article was originally published on July 13, 2017.