It’s that time again—the Montreal International Reggae Festival. This year it’s hot on the heels of Jamaica’s 50th birthday party and there’s a heap of incredible acts coming to town, from roots rock reggae to hype dancehall—presenting everything that the island’s music industry has to offer. The wide range of artists performing really showcases the history of Jamaican music, from recent hitmaker Popcaan to the first major international reggae artist, Jimmy Cliff, who will perform some of his original, pre-Marley hits as well as cuts off his most recent (and incredible) album Rebirth.
In order to figure out which artists in the extensive line-up are worth watching out for, I asked a couple of local reggae and dancehall luminaries for their input. Poirier and Face-T have been working together for quite some time now, with tunes like “Blazin’” and “Arena,” and they’re both big fans of what the festival has to offer this year. Poirier (who plays the festival on Friday, Aug. 17) provided us with some specifics:
The fact that he’s coming with the upcoming female singer “O” makes his appearance even more special. I’ve been following Cham for a while now and really like that new stretch of tunes with “O.”
I’ve been DJing lots of Konshens tunes in the last year so I’m really looking forward to watching him live.
I did a remix for Popcaan (“Get Gyal Easy,” released on Mixpak), so I wanna see him perform for sure. Popcaan is really at the top right now, so I think the crowd will go crazy.
4. Tarrus Riley
I briefly met him at the festival’s press conference and he’s really a down to earth artist with an incredible voice.
5. Jimmy Cliff
It is always inspiring to see an old timer with so much experience rocking the stage!
As for Face-T, he’s eagerly awaiting Konshens, Tarrus Riley, Assassin, Cham and Ruff Kuts Band. It’s a tough choice—this year’s line-up is one of the best offerings in the past few years!
The festival runs from Aug. 17–19 on the Quays of the Old Port. See the website for full programming.