If there were ever a time to have a harmunking big reggae festival in Montana, that time is now. Beautiful, dry midsummer weather; active and flush promotion company capable of thinking big, organizing big, marshalling the funds and drawing the talent; and, most importantly, several thousand prospective showgoers chasing unicorns around the rainbow on a tract of national forest just a few hours away.
“Sure, sure, Calendar Kid,” you may be saying. “Way to leap to conclusions, man! Way to generalize, man! Why are you trying to hassle us and bring us down?”
Hey, I’m not trying to bring anyone down. I’m just saying, is all. Or are you just going to sit there and tell me you weren’t thinking exactly the same thing? In the absence of strong evidence to the contrary, it’s fair to say that the Rainbow Gathering is a more serendipitous thing to have going down in the general vicinity of a reggae festival than, um, to not have it be happening there. Anyway, it’s better than trying to have a reggae festival next door to a conference of 25,000 highway patrolmen.
Having chitty-chatted with Roots Revolution 2000 festival organizers, I’m here to tell you they’re expecting—not to say relying on—a little pan-tribal brah unity. They have spent hundreds of hours putting it together and promoting it, and, whether by foresight or fortunate happenstance, the proximity of reggae fest and Rainbow Gathering is companion macro-planting indeed. A little cross-pollination, if you will. A little mutual assured China Cat Sunflower. A ten-mile No Harshed Mellows zone. (“Calendar Kid, you’re writing kind of strangefully. Are you okay? You didn’t eat the brownies on top of the refrigerator, did you? Those ones are for mommies and daddies!”)
Anyway, the good people of Jamaica would be throwing darts at themselves with envy if they knew what kind of lineup the promoters of the Roots Revolution festival were putting on down there in La Hood Park in Cardwell, a short-to-middlin’ morning drive from the Missoula area. Fourteen bands from Jamaica, England and all over the United States. The headlining bands are, in short: The Congos (featuring Cedric Myton, the Congos have been performing for over 25 years, and their debut album, the Lee “Scratch” Perry-produced Heart of the Congos is considered one of the finest reggae albums ever made); the Abyssinians (still as inspiring and spiritual as they were 30 years ago); prime reggae mover Pablo Moses (whose smash hit “I Man a Grasshopper” catapulted him onto the world stage in 1975); original Israel Vibration member Apple Gabriel; the Twinkle Brothers (an inexplicably still-under-the-radar act, considering they’ve produced over 60 albums); and Ethiopian-born Isaac Haile Selassie, who was raised under the supervision of His Majesty Haile Selassie and spreads his positive message in both English and Amharic, his native tongue.
Three days of reggae bliss, July 7, 8 and 9. See you-and-you there.
To get to Roots Revolution 2000, take I-90 east to Cardwell (about 50 miles west of Bozeman), and take Exit 256. Go two miles east on Hwy. 2 and follow the signs. No dogs allowed! Tickets are $40 presale (available at TIC-IT-EZ outlets or by calling 1-888-MONTANA), $50 at the gate.