35 shows, 3 days, 1 festival – Positive Vibration: Festival of Reggae took over the Melodic Distraction Radio airwaves for a full weekend of music, conversation and culture from 8th – 10th June. Running in collaboration with MCR Live and KCC Live, the broadcast features artists from around the country with Africa Oyé, Levi Tafari and many more featuring across the weekend.
Now into its 3rd iteration as a fully-fledged festival, and 5th year of running reggae focused parties, the award-winning Positive Vibration: Festival of Reggae returned once again to the Baltic Triangle. Taking place around the local area, with stages at Constellations, District and Hangar 34, the festival married internationally-recognised artists like Lee Scratch Perry and Roni Size with Liverpool heritage artists in the form of acts like One A Penny Sound System and Marley & Vegas.
Following the very first 3 day round-the-clock Melodic Distraction Radio broadcast, we run through the 11 live shows that took over the studio with the sounds of the weekend. From local selectors, who have spent years digging into the history of calypso, dancehall and reggae, to legends who have worked alongside Bob Marley, Peter Tosh and Masters at Work – the Positive Vibration radio takeover showcased Caribbean musical culture in unrelenting detail. Check out some photos from the weekend by Mark McNulty here.
SUNNYSIDE SOUND with Marley & Vegas
Local dream team Keith Marley and Richie Vegas kicked things off with a two hour Sunnyside Sound special. Both hold down regular shows on Melodic Distraction, with Marley hosting Roots & Culture whilst Vegas hosts Test Match Special. Whack them together however, and the duo bounce off each other in a dead special way, with boss patter and music selection to match. Two of Liverpool’s finest selectors could be seen playing music before and after the legendary Lee Scratch Perry & Subatomic Sound System.
AFRICA OYÉ with Spykatcha & Paul Duhaney
Two extremely important festivals in Liverpool and beyond linking up in all the right ways! Our mates at Africa Oyé, who also hold down a regular show, joined us for a special one hour show with host Spykatcha and Oyé’s creative director Paul Duhaney talking through the artists that have been coming through the city recently, as well as highlighting the workshops that took place at this year’s festival.
REGGAE VIBES WITH THE SCRIBE with Paul Borthwick & Levi Tafari
Stuart Borthwick kicked off the live broadcasts on Saturday with special guest and Liverpool local, Levi Tafari. The acclaimed dub poet, performer and activist hosted a dub poetry workshop in the Constellations Warehouse later that day and they talked through the power of poetry and music in this one hour show.
CALYPSO CRUISE with Danny Fitzgerald [Soul Jazz / Jacaranda Records]
It would be impossible to find someone in the North West of England who has such an expansive and in-depth knowledge of Caribbean folk music as Mr. Danny Fitzgerald. With two compilations out on Soul Jazz Records, Danny’s love for digging the dusty Caribbean crates is undeniable. Often found behind the decks as one half of Grooveyard, or behind the counter at Jacaranda Records, Danny is the go-to chap as a selector and a curator. Check out his Calypso Cruise before he played at New Bird Street Warehouse.
THE JOURNEY with One A Penny Sound System
One A Penny Soundsystem are downright legendary in the North West having supported Mykal Rose at District earlier in the year. They are no strangers to the Positive Vibration audience and throw down some of the tunes that they love to play out when carting speaker stacks around the world. You could see One A Penny spinning tunes before Adrian Sherwood and Capital Letters at District.
GOOD TIME ROCK with Angus Taylor (Reggaeville) & Selector Stix
Editor of the esteemed Reggaeville blog, Angus Taylor knows his Jamaican music. Having worked for the BBC, Riddim, United Reggae and more – he’s a sureshot authority on reggae culture and history. He was joined by Selector Stix, a London-based reggae DJ with a show on the legendary, Irie FM.
DEREK’S DESERT ISLAND DISCS with Count Skylarkin’ [The Disco Shed]
A personal hero of festival organiser, Rory Taylor, DJ Derek sadly passed away in 2015 after 50 years behind the booth. A cardigan wearing ex-accountant, idolised by the likes of Don Letts and Massive Attack, Derek became a cult-hero in the reggae, ska, dancehall and R&B scene in Bristol. Having gigged together in excess of 200 times, DJ Derek and Count Skylarkin’ were about as close as two DJs can get. Since his passing, Skylarkin’ has been spinning Derek’s back catalogue in his memory. Check out Count Skylarkin’ spinning some of DJ Derek’s finest reggae, dub, ska and dancehall tunes.
GREENSLEEVES RECORDS SPECIAL with DJ Sarah C
Another seasoned radio broadcaster passed through the studio! DJ Sarah C can usually be found holding it down on Vibes FM every Wednesday. For this show, she paid homage to Greensleeves Records, the iconic label that was home to the music of Black Uhuru, Yellowman and Capital Letters.
THE VIXEN & SAMSON SHOW
Ahead of their performances at this years festival, Vixen Sounds and Samon Sounds joined forces for a special radio show on Melodic Distraction. A well established radio presenter of digi-dub and dancehall, Vixen was joined by the Glasgow-based collective Samon Sounds who consistently bring waves of highlife, kwaito and jazz to the North. You could catch both crews playing out in Constellations Garden.
CATCH A FIRE with Daddy Harper, Yorkman & Sister Silver
Catch A Fire hold it down for an hour of strictly reggae selections from international sound system culture. The York based sound system crew comprised of Daddy Harper, Yorkman, Sister Silver and more have hosted a regular radio show with Two Rivers Radio and can be seen spinning dub plates across the country on their custom-built sound system.
SUBATOMIC SOUND SYSTEM with Screechy Dan [Signet Records]
Screechy Dan and co. will undoubtedly become one of the most historically impactful acts to ever step foot inside the Melodic Distraction Studio. Performing alongside his band, Subatomic Sound System, Screechy performed his own live set before playing alongside the legendary, Lee Scratch Perry. On percussion, 81-year-old Larry McDonald is an unsung hero of the music world, having worked alongside an incredible roster of artists, spanning from the legendary Gil Scott Heron to reggae’s poster boy and all-time champion Bob Marley. Screechy on the other hand, has released with Masters at Work, the incredible duo of Louie Vega and Kenny Dope.