The 2014 three day Unity Festival music extravaganza hit its mark full on with their artist lineup. The mix of conscious music with Reggae, Reggae Rock, Dub, R&B, Alternative, and more made for a continuously stimulating festival with artists from Jamaica, New York, Africa, Hawaii, across the States and California bands from our own neighborhoods and up and down the coast. In other words, there was good music rolling out from morning to night from near and far.
The list of performing artists was extensive and every one of them had some great features and deserve a top of the roof thumbs up. However, there were those performances that stood out and made a mark on the mind and emotions that won’t be soon forgotten. One of the most memorable performances at Unity could easily be awarded to Yellowman. Tall, lean, muscular and facing the crowd with energy and spirit, he won over the hearts of everyone in attendance.
King Yellowman is a Reggae legend whose determination and drive propelled him beyond the limits of much adversity including being an albino orphan in Jamaica. He has a long history of productive music making and performance, controversy combined with great love that makes him an icon of strength even while battling jaw cancer, prejudice and a fickle industry. He has not only endured but continues to blossom with dynamic performances like that he delivered at Unity Festival in Guerneville, CA.
If you missed the Unity Festival, you can’t really imagine the fun and the power of watching King Yellowman on stage. His live performances add lightning to his works. But to get an idea, you might picture someone doing a workout of jumping, running in place and hitting the floor with a few push ups all while growling out some great original Reggae rhythms. Indeed, Yellowman actually did some push ups on stage, enacted some safe sex tactics with mock condom application steps in an utterly tasteful manner, ran in slow motion with knees high all while putting the music and the mood in full gear.
Twenty-three different sets graced the Unity Festival stage on Sept. 12-14 and attendance has increased each year with 2014 being the fourth. The Unity campgrounds were full and the town of Guerneville had a record number of visitors. There were dozens of reasons people attended including sublime performing artists, superb vendors, a positive family atmosphere and the “Unity” focus. The Strudel Guy was in the house with this incredible creations of both desert and breakfast savory strudels. Cutting Edge Solutions had their large and comfortable booth erected next to the stage where they did low key promotion of their plant solutions with a three part nutrient system of “Micro,” “Grow” and “Bloom.” Their ideal and aim is, in their words, “to be the cleanest and highest quality mineral-based fertilizer system available. Handmade by our (extended) family business, we take no shortcuts in assuring that we offer a product line that is reasonably priced, without sacrificing the quality of the products or the growth potential of plants.”
Other vendors and booths offered Jamaican, Indian, Soul and other delicious foods as well as colorful clothing, jewelry and art. Live painting took place at the side of the stage while children and adults hula hooped and danced or chilled on the grass. The days were hot but a nice cloud cover offered relief on Saturday and the trees offered shade a short distance from the stage front. As the sun lowered, people moved in closer and abandoned their chairs or picnic blankets to rock their bodies in rhythm to the ongoing sets of music.
Other memorable music moments included the Adam Willis guitar solo and vocals while playing with Krooked Treez who brought their own brand of Reggae and Reggae infused Hip Hop to the stage. Adam, in the modern phraseology, tore it up, gave it a total shred and even played behind his head like the much loved jazz and rockabilly stars Dave Bennett and the Memphis Boys do at the Sacramento Music Festival for thousands of fans each year in Sacramento. The young (24 years) handsome and talented musician has been playing guitar since the age of 15, plays in his church and trained in classical music in college. He is also working on writing his own songs and has a mixed genre approach, stating “I really don’t think I fit into one specific genre … I am working on a solo album to show how flexible I am when it comes to creating music … but Krooked Treez is my main priority right now.” As a band member of Krooked Treez he really turns up the heat for an already hot band with BZ-Bwai, O Brown, Paul Monico, Bobby Zen, Alex Puente, and Stephen “LashBz” Lashbrook.
For more highlights of the 2014 Unity Festival, including another 20 image slideshow of festival photos, please see the continuation of this article at Unity Festival lights up the stage.