When: Sat., Aug. 13, 12 p.m. 2016
A new one-day festival helmed by DJ Papa G (of Subterranean’s Reggae Gold dance party), DJ J Niice (B96), and Chuck Wren (Jump Up! Records), Reggae Fest Chicago boasts a solid lineup that includes iconic Jamaican reggae group Toots & the Maytals, Chicago-based ska and reggae harmonica legend Charley “Organaire” Cameron, and 90s California ska outfit Hepcat. I’d recommend arriving early to soak in all the sounds, but if you have to pick one act don’t miss Lee “Scratch” Perry, not only the architect of dub but a prolific producer who’s probably forgotten more of his songbook than most bands will ever be able to scrape together. Perry, now 80, is showing his age, but his idiosyncrasies nevertheless shine through. How many performers could show up 30 minutes late to a set wearing what looks like an intergalactic onesie and sporting a red-dyed beard? And still casually and naturally find the right crest of a rippling dub melody to dive into? Well, that’s exactly what happened at Riot Fest last year, and the memory resonates with me even as so much of the fest’s other performances slip my mind. Not that Perry’s eccentric life doesn’t hit some bumps—after he forgot to extinguish a candle in his Swiss studio last December the whole place burned down. But he continues to release music at a regular clip, and I imagine he’ll play a track or two from his forthcoming solo album Must Be Free.
Price: $50, $45 in advance