ORGANISERS of the Antipodean event, Raggamuffin Festival, disclosed there will be no Australian leg next year. The fifth staging of the show, however, is scheduled for January 27-28 at the Rotorua International Stadium in New Zealand.
Sly and Robbie and progressive Rhythm and Blues group, Arrested Development, are among the headliners. Ali Campbell, formerly of UB40, Original Wailers guitarist Junior Marvin, Trinidadian soul singer Billy Ocean and American reggae band Big Mountain, are also part of the 2012 cast.
Founder and promoter of Raggamuffin Festival, Andrew McManus, commented on the cancellation of the show’s Australian segment in a recent press release. “We are concentrating on building the New Zealand leg of Raggamuffin into a massive two-day festival. With 30,000 people attending the New Zealand shows in previous years, we are looking to double this in coming years.
This growth will enable us to return to Australia in 2013 bigger and better than ever,” McManus wrote.
The Raggamufin Festival was first staged in 2008 and featured the Wailers, Maxi Priest and UB40. Since then, a mix of reggae, dancehall, hip-hop and R&B acts have performed on it. They include Jimmy Cliff, Steel Pulse, Julian Marley, Sean Paul, Shaggy, Mary J Blige and Eddy Grant.
For the first four years, the festival played major Australian cities such as Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth, but it has been hampered by no-shows by some reggae artistes, prompting McManus to threaten legal action.
The Australian attendance pales compared to those in neighbouring New Zealand which has a vibrant dancehall and reggae scene. For next year’s show, the thriving Pacific reggae circuit will be recognised with appearances by homegrown acts Chad Chambers, Katchafire and J Boog. Jamaican music has had a following in New Zealand for over 35 years.