Last weekend was the highly anticipated Nottingham Carnival arguably (at least in my opinion) the best Carnival in Midlands. This year was set to be no exception especially as headlining the Sunday was Reggae Royalty, none other than the queen herself Marcia Griffiths.
For those of you who dont know Marcia, she is famed for being part of popular Reggae duo Bob and Marcia where she dueted with Bob Andy on a whole host of commercially popular tracks most notably “Young, Gifted and Black” which reached #5 in the UK charts. She was also one third of the I-three’s Bob Marley’s backing singers, of whom he famousley wrote his song “Three Little Birds” about. She also recorded several solo tracks including a personal favourite of mine for producer Sir Coxsone Dodd on his Studio One “Down Beat” label, “Tell Me Now”. Anyways enough of the history lesson…
We arrived at the carnival at around 3pm to the smell of Jerk Chicken and the sound of Reggae (for once not coming from my car stereo) and promptly joined the queue’s of people to be frisked and searched, before proceeding onwards to pay our £1 donation to the Carnival for entry. This was the first year to my knowledge that they have asked for a donation and it caused a bit of a stir online with some people threatening to boycott the event as they begrudged donating towards the future of the event. I for one would have donated upto £30 for the pleasure of seeing Marcia perform so I really didnt get the fuss and judging by the crowds that had already ammased inside the carnival area I can only imagine they were with me.
Following a brief wander round the stalls and the customary purchase of Curried Goat and Red Stripe we headed over to the Kemet FM section where people had started gathering. As always they were on point with the tunes. There were no energetic live performances this year however from Nottingham duo 2 Tone and Jah Digga (if you don’t know who they are pfffttt… stop reading, open another tab and youtube them NOW!!) but still it was definitely the place to be.
Staar Sound were in charge of the music the carnival dancers arrived to (which held personal intrigue for me as I have yet to see the much hyped DJ Rudes playing Reggae/Dancehall). I’m not sure whether it was professional jealousy, the fact I had my expectations set sky high at the hotly tipped “next Rodigan” or the fact he was using pre-mixed music (that he made no effort to hide as his hands were nowhere near the turntables on occassions the track’s wheeled back) but I was sorely disappointed. He really wasnt what I expected but it was not long into his set that the dancers came onto the stage to their Samba rhythms. The crowds soon followed and the area surrounding the stage was a sea of people so not wanting to drown amongst them we decided to go and get another drinks refill and check out the main stage.Shockingly the main stage was empty, not even a DJ and compere… to keep everyone going and the only music that could be heard was from the CD stall, surely this was an oversight?!
The vibes on the main stage eventually started up again around 6:30pm(ish) with Kingfa and co leading the “Reggae Takeover”, Alexander D’Great (a very un-assuming but highly talented guy) leading the Calypso and then Alpha and Scrappy’s high energy Soca performance’s all leading into the amazing Marcia Griffiths. Marcia was fantastic and commanded such a stage presence whilst performing hits such as “I Shall Sing”, “Closer” and even a few covers such as Dawn Penn’s “No, No, No”. I left the carnival pretty hyped up that I had just witnessed Reggae Royalty and pretty contented with the day as a whole. Roll on Nottingham Carnival 2014 and here’s hoping some of the short-comings noted in my blog are sorted for next time.