Jamaica Gleaner
Published: Sunday | October 25, 2009
Home : Entertainment
Reggae on a high Down Under
Howard Campbell, Gleaner Writer

Wyclef Jean

Hip hop superstar and reggae lover Wyclef Jean will headline the third Ragamuffin Reggae Festival which takes place again in New Zealand and Australia in January.

A release from promoter Andrew McManus Presents said the Haiti-born Jean will headline the festival's five shows in the New Zealand capital, Auckland, as well as dates in the Australian cities of Perth, Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne.

Sly and Robbie, Julian Marley, Shaggy and pop rapper Sean Kingston complete the cast. Shaggy is making his second appearance on the show.

The Ragamuffin Festival was first held in 2008 by a group of reggae enthusiasts. British supergroup UB40, The Wailers and American neo-soul group Arrested Development headlined the inaugural event.

Ziggy Marley, Eddy Grant, former UB40 lead singer Ali Campbell and Inner Circle were among the performers on the event. The New Zealand leg reportedly drew 25,000 fans.

The Antipodes may be the last frontier for reggae to conquer. Bob Marley was at the peak of his fame when he toured Australia and New Zealand in 1979 but the location of those countries has always proved an economic challenge for promoters.

Roots-reggae legends Peter Tosh and Jimmy Cliff have performed in both countries whereas dancehall superstar Sean Paul has done shows in Australia, based on the impact of his platinum-selling albums, Dutty Rock and The Trinity.

Australian bands have had some success with reggae. Men At Work hit it big in 1982 with Down Under, which topped Billboard magazine's pop chart.



Meanwhile, the Mighty Diamonds, who emerged during the roots-reggae craze of the 1970s, will be honoured for their contribution to reggae music when they perform in New York City in November.

They will receive the award from the Coalition To Preserve Reggae Music, during the Reggae Culture Salute show at the Nazareth Regional High School in Brooklyn. The Diamonds (Donald 'Tabby' Shaw, Fitzroy 'Bunny' Simpson and Lloyd 'Judge' Ferguson) are headliners of the concert which also features Warrior King and Everton Blender.

The Diamonds are currently on a mini tour of the United States. Tomorrow, they are scheduled to be in Indianapolis, Indiana. This will be followed by dates in Missouri, Wisconsin, Ohio, New York, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut.

Formed in Kingston in the late 1960s, the Diamonds broke through while they were at the Channel One studio in the mid-1970s. Backed by the Channel One house band, the Revolutionaries, the trio had a series of hit songs including I Need A Roof, Africa and Right Time.

They were still recording hits in the 1980s, the biggest of these being Pass The Kutchie for producer Gussie Clarke.

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