As noted in a September 6 “Blurt” article, the popularity of reggae was pointing to a resurrection of the all-day reggae festival that had been held at the Valley View Casino Center (Sports Arena) every President’s Day for 20-plus years.
Tribal Seeds, "Rude Girl"
The last such reggae festival was held in 2012. It was announced last week that the tradition returns next year on February 19 with Boomshaka 2018, featuring Tribal Seeds, Stick Figure, the Original Wailers, Don Carlos, and HIRIE.
“Reggae is huge right now,” says reggae DJ Carlos Culture. “[Local band] Tribal Seeds played to 13,000 at the Racetrack.... Steel Pulse played there before 15,000. Damian Marley just played a sold-out show to, like, 5000 at Harrah’s.”
It was numbers like that that encouraged Sports Arena management to ask Chris Goldsmith of the Belly Up and Ramiro “Rams” Llamas, manager of Tribal Seeds, to form a cooperative promotional team to bring back the event.
Goldsmith says the name Boomshaka was derived as a team effort. “We had several ideas.” The phrase seems to go back almost 50 years, to the “boom-shakalaka” phrase in Sly Stone’s “I Wanna Take you Higher.” “We didn’t want a noun. We wanted a name that encapsulated a feeling.”
Goldsmith says his long-defunct Calypso band Borracho y Loco even opened for the L.A.-based roots reggae band named Boom Shaka.
A Los Angeles–based musician named Tafari used to play bass in Boom Shaka. “They don’t play no more,” he said by phone. He also said he doesn’t like it that the name of this festival adopted the name of his old band, even if it doesn’t exist anymore.
“I think it is dishonoring,” said Tafari. “Nobody from Boom Shaka gave them the right to use it. It’s the same reason they had to change Bob Marley Day in Long Beach to Ragamuffin Day.” (The San Diego festival was long known as “Bob Marley Day” as well).
Goldsmith says he was aware of the negative social media reaction to the name.
“I was sorry to read that. There is also a band from South Africa with that name.... When you take a name that is already part of the lexicon and adopt it for yourself, that doesn’t mean it’s yours. There was no disrespect intended.”
Another internet beef had to do with longtime performers such as Don Carlos and the Wailers getting lower billing than bands with none of the rasta reverence.
“You could also be mad that John Lee Hooker opened for Santana in ’69,” said Goldsmith. “Or you could be happy that the roots artists are included.... You can’t have a band headline the Sports Arena just because they sell out the Belly Up.”