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Island Reggae Festival Brings Global Rhythms To Santa Clara

In Music
Common Kings perform at the Island Reggae Festival on Sunday, July 8.

Common Kings perform at the Island Reggae Festival on Sunday, July 8.

“Island reggae” may seem redundant to those who associate it purely with Jamaica. But in fact, reggae is the adopted sound of islands all over the world. The headliner at the Island Reggae Festival represents two of them just on his own.

Born in Fiji and later adopting the name of his homeland as his standalone moniker, George Veikoso has actually lived most of his life in Hawaii. What’s more, the man now known as Fiji is perhaps best known for singing “Sosefina,” the famous traditional love song of yet another island nation, Samoa.

It may all seem confusing at first, but in reality, Fiji (who will celebrate his 20th anniversary in music at the festival) is the perfect headliner for this event. The IRF is not about “purity” or some kind of skanker-than-thou attitude, it’s about diversity, and the sheer breadth of the lineup is remarkable.

Common Kings combine influences from their background in the South Pacific and SoCal, creating a hip, modern fusion sound that still recalls classic reggae and R&B. Reggae singer-songwriter Raymond Leger is of Samoan and Tongan decent, and influenced by the genre’s all-time greats. Zhen is also Polynesian, a multi-instrumentalist who grew up shuffling between California and Hawaii.

One of the most interesting artists at this year’s festival, Vacano, actually grew up here in San Jose, before moving to San Diego, where he found his now trademark sound that effortlessly mixes hip-hop and reggae. Siaosi, Spawnbreezie, Native Elements and more will also perform; the South Bay’s DJ Nappy hosts.

THE ISLAND REGGAE FESTIVAL will be held Sunday, July 8, at the Great America Redwood Amphitheatre in Santa Clara, 10am-10pm; $30/$40.

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