New Winnipeg reggae music festival kicks off Saturday night with live stream

Manitoba

New Winnipeg reggae music festival kicks off Saturday night with live stream

The organizer of a new music festival says the good vibes of reggae are exactly what people need right now — so Neville Hamilton isn’t letting the pandemic get in the way of the inaugural International Reggae Afro-Caribbean Latin Music and Arts Festival.

International Reggae Afro-Caribbean Latin Music and Arts Festival will be broadcast on Facebook at 7 p.m.

Neville Hamilton, co-owner of the International Reggae Afro Latin Music & Arts Festival, says he wants to give people a way to appreciate what different cultures have to offer. (Golden at Wadat Media)

The organizer of a new music festival in Winnipeg says the good vibes of reggae are exactly what people need right now — so Neville Hamilton isn't letting the pandemic get in the way of the inaugural International Reggae Afro-Caribbean Latin Music and Arts Festival.

“It's always an uplifting thing to just listen to reggae, no matter what's happening,” Hamilton told CBC's Weekend Morning Show host Nadia Kidwai on Saturday.

He said the idea for the festival, which combines several different genres of music, came to him and a few other musicians while touring last year.

“We thought, 'Well, there's not really that great support for what we do as Caribbean artists and Latin artists, and Africans as well, here in Canada,” said Hamilton, who came to Manitoba from Jamaica 10 years ago. “'It's time we do something about that.'”

The festival, which was originally scheduled to be a larger event earlier this summer, had to be scaled down because of COVID-19 restrictions, Hamilton said.

But organizers still wanted to give people a way to appreciate what all those different cultures have to offer.

“It's all different music. It's not just one brush that we use to paint this picture, or one colour,” he said. “We want to carry everything together and to make it into this beautiful thing that I think Canadians and Manitobans and immigrants — everybody — is going to enjoy.”

So on Saturday night, a small group of people will be attending the festival's 7 p.m. launch party at the Gas Station Arts Centre. But for everyone else, it will also be live streamed on the festival's Facebook page, Hamilton said.

“We decided we're going to come together and make this something that we can give back to the public,” he said.

Festival organizers are also running a talent search following Saturday's event, with the winner performing at next summer's event, he said. More information about that will also be posted on the International Reggae Afro-Caribbean Latin Music and Arts Festival's Facebook page.

“Anybody who has a talent and wants to go further with it should really come and check [it] out,” he said, adding it's not limited to any one group of people.

“As long as you've got talent and ability to come and sing, you're invited.”

With files from Nadia Kidwai

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