Reggae in the Desert, Las Vegas’ largest Reggae festival showcasing the unifying power of reggae music and the Caribbean lifestyle, announces the 19th annual music festival on Saturday, June 11 at the Clark County Amphitheatre (500 S. Grand Central Parkway, Las Vegas). This year’s music festival will feature headliners Ky-Mani Marley plus other musical performances including Marcia Griffiths, Don Carlos,Mr. Vegas, The Wailing Souls, Vana Liya, E.N. Young and local breakouts The Steppadelics.
Born in Falmouth, Trelawney but raised in Miami, Ky-mani Marley is the second youngest of Bob Marley’s eleven children. As a child, Ky-mani had no interest following in the footsteps of his world-famous father and was more inclined to play sports. As a teenager Ky-mani toyed with rapping and deejaying yet, his love for sports would overshadow his inherent musical talent. However, the seed that was planted by Bob’s legacy sprouted in 1997 when Ky-mani teamed up with hip hop artist Pras of The Fugees and collaborated on Eddy Grant’s “Electric Avenue”. This would be the defining moment in Ky-mani’s journey which would lead him to pick up the torch his iconic father lit so many years ago. Since Ky-mani has tapped into his artistic gift and has embraced the idea of sharing his insight through song. Remaining true to his Jamaican culture, Ky-mani’s fondness for all genres of music influences the work he creates.
In a genre traditionally dominated by male artists, Marcia Griffiths is arguably the best-known and most influential woman in the history of reggae. Griffiths first made a name for herself when the music was still evolving from its roots in ska and rocksteady, and she later became an ally of reggae’s signature artist Bob Marley before embracing the electronic-based sounds of dancehall and funk in the 1980s. Her 1982 track, “Electric Boogie,” went on to inspire the popular dance the Electric Slide, giving the song a new life as a perennial dance staple. Griffiths‘ versatility and knack for choosing interesting collaborators ensured her relevancy well into the 21st century; she was a part of Toots & the Maytals‘ Grammy Award-winning 2004 set, True Love, and cut songs with artists like Shaggy and Buju Banton. While her own lasting influence continued to inspire younger acts, she gracefully honored her peers and forebears and in 2019 offered up an album devoted to the music that emerged from Kingston’s famed Studio One label.
Don Carlos (born: Euvin Spencer) has had his greatest success singing with Black Uhuru, the reggae trio he formed in 1974 with two friends — Rudolph Dennis and Derrick “Duckie” Simpson — from the “Waterhouse” district in Kingston. Carlos recorded only one single with the group, leaving to pursue a solo career and to perform with a band, Don Carlos and Gold. Sixteen years later he returned and joined with Dennis and Simpson to resurrect the original trio. Their first album together, Now, released in 1990, helped Black Uhuru to recapture the popularity they enjoyed in the 1970s and ’80s, though Carlos‘ involvement with the trio was brief. Shortly after helping Dennis and Simpson to record a second trio album, Iron Storm, Carlos resumed his solo career. While he’s recorded some impressive albums, including his 1997 solo outing, Seven Days a Week, Carlos has yet to match the success he had with Black Uhuru.
Clifford Smith got the nickname Mr. Vegas from his schoolmates who thought he high-kicked the soccer ball like a Vegas showgirl. The dancehall singjay (someone who combines his singing with rapping, or toasting) started by singing cover versions of popular Jamaican tunes with little success. As soon as “Nike Air” hit the top of the charts, “Heads High” was issued and became a smash not only on the island but in the U.K. as well. The singjay was now called upon to accompany crooners like Sean Paul, since producers assumed Vegas was a quick, forceful toaster with no croon of his own.
Consistently active since 1968, The Wailing Souls are the consummate roots reggae band, evolving into a more and more foundational force as the years went on. The Wailing Souls grew alongside Jamaican music, beginning with the rise of ska in the early ’60s, standing alongside peers like the Wailers in the ’70s and ’80s heyday of reggae, and continuing to be an immensely popular live act through various changes of the face of reggae culture. They continued to record and perform into new generations, still exploring new approaches to roots reggae on albums like 2020’s Back a Yard.
Vana Liya, signed to Pepper’s LAW Records, visited Great Stone Studios owned by Scott Woodruff of Stick Figure in Oakland, CA. She recorded “Go For It” with Johnny Cosmic of Stick Figure. She also has a duo song with Happy Madison star Peter Dante called “Give Love Get Love”. Recently, Vana has enjoyed touring with bands including Expendables, KBong, & Kash’d Out. She has also opened up for such noteworthy artists as Pepper, Ballyhoo!, Badfish, Oogee Wawa, Tunnel Vision and Tropidelic.
E.N. Young has been a frontline soldier of Roots Reggae music from an early age, has worked with current headlining acts, like Pepper, Rebelution, Stick Figure, Slightly Stoopid, Trevor Hall, Million Stylez, Alborosie, Sizzla, Lutan Fyah, Don Carlos, Mykal Rose, KBong, Iya Terra and beyond.
Doors open at noon and the event concludes at 11 p.m. General admission tickets start at $29.99 and are go on sale Monday, March 14 at 11 p.m. Merchandise packages are available starting at $49.99 and include a ticket to the festival, one event poster, one event t-shirt and are available online through June 1. No cash will be accepted at the door for tickets on the day of the show. All seats are general admission and available on a first-come, first-served basis. No re-entry is permitted. Reggae in the Desert is a rain or shine event, no refunds will be issued. To purchase tickets online, visit www.reggaeinthedesert.com. For a complete list of performance times and additional information, visit the event website at www.reggaeinthedesert.com.
Vendors in the Caribbean Islands Vendor Village will have a wide assortment Caribbean-style food including jerk chicken, peas & rice and fried plantains. In addition to water and non-alcoholic refreshments, domestic and imported beers will be available. Various exhibits and Caribbean-inspired vendors will also be on site. ATMs are available.
Blankets for lawn seating are permitted, as well as one unopened/factory sealed bottle of water per person, still cameras (no video) and sunscreen. No weapons (with or without permit) are allowed. Other forbidden items include blow horns, balloons, umbrellas, lawn chairs, squirt and water guns, or video equipment. No consumption of any illegal substances on festival grounds. No video equipment, unauthorized vending, concessions, merchandise, or promotions literature.