Here are some shots of the Odeum stage, largest venue at Rothbury. Everyone was getting warmed up for the weekend and a scene was starting to build that first morning.
We started our day with the King of Juju, King Sunny Ade and his African Beats from Nigeria. I love this band and have had the pleasure of hearing them perform many years ago in Toronto.
The constraints of a shorter set made it a bit less exciting than that full show, also because King Sunny mostly sang and danced, only playing his blistering guitar style a couple of times in the set. But boy did we dance! Caught some serious sun at high noon, too...
Here are two members of the African Beats and one enthusiastic audience member after the show - very friendly folks attempting to suss out the festival vibe.
Rothbury on Friday was an African-music lover's dream. Next up... Femi Kuti and Positive Force, again from Nigeria. The son of the originator of Afrobeat, Fela Kuti, is a powerful entertainer in his own right. He played his own songs and some of his father's backed by his 14-piece band. I just can't get enough of that big afrobeat sound.
Horns make any band spectacular. It's not hard to see why this band is so entertaining. A fully-charged rhythm machine, political lyrics, Femi's great stage presence, and awesome dancers make them one of my perennial favourites.
As if that weren't enough musical excitement, we headed back to the Odeum stage to check out one of the highlights of the festival: Damian Marley with rapper Nas. Golden afternoon light, the rasta flag flying high, and the emergence of the son of Bob Marley made for a magical moment at Rothbury.
Nas started us off in what was a tag-team show. He opened and closed the set solo, then rapped in duets with Damian and leaving the stage to let the Jr. Gong do his thing, which consisted of some of his songs as well as a medley of his dad's music.
Damian has a killer dancehall style and a great singing voice, uncannily like Bob's. A beautiful performance and a great concept for a show combining friends with complementary styles. Something old and something new. This is the closest I'll ever get to the great Bob Marley and I feel blessed to have shared in that high golden moment.
Well, after that first day of sun and dancing, I could barely walk and had to pace myself. But the most exciting parts had yet to come... Stay tuned for the Cheese...