Music » Livewire

Reggae Sunsplash

With UB40, Third World, Toots & the Maytals, Morgan Heritage, and Maxi Priest. Wednesday, August 23, at Tower City Amphitheater.


Tower City Amphitheater is certainly not Montego Bay, Jamaica -- the original site of reggae's first world-famous Sunsplash festival -- but the traveling version of the concert and carnival might just bring enough wicked island rhythms to convince fans they're basking in a cool breeze from the Caribbean.

England's reggae radio stars UB40 will headline, playing material spanning 2005's Who You Fighting For? all the way back to such classic cover hits from the '80s as Neil Diamond's "Red Red Wine." In tow, Jamaica's pop-crossover giant Third World (which was actually on the roster of the original Sunsplash show in 1978) will file through four decades and over 20 albums of great roots reggae infused with global influences including R&B, funk, pop, rock, and rap.

Of course, the festival's most popular choice might be Frederick "Toots" Hibbert -- the man who gave the genre its name on 1968's "Do the Reggay." Toots and the Maytals play a soulful Kingston reggae as powerful as Jamaican gospel, led by Hibbert's resonant vocals, recalling soulful heartbreakers such as Al Green and Sam Cooke. Aside from the event's musical entertainment, Sunsplash will also feature a Jamaican food and crafts fair, peddling everything from jerk chicken to hand-crafted clothes for the kids.

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