I had never seen so many dreads in my life. The music was pumping, the crowd was swaying, the scent of marijuana lingered in the air. The lights on the stage flashed on and off and in bright colors and Tarrus Riley was standing on stage in nerdy glasses. He looked nothing like what I expected of a Creole music superstar but I quickly understood why he was so popular. His energy radiated into the crowd. People sang along with the lyrics they knew and danced to songs they knew well—songs that I had never heard before.
I was at the World Creole Music Festival (http://www.wcmfdominica.com/) in Roseau, Dominica. The show cost 120 EC—only about 40 Euros. The music started around eight p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and around four p.m. on Sunday, but the true music started around ten p.m., according to the Rastafarians who were traveling with us. We arrived around 10:30 p.m. on Saturday night.
It was Saturday night, one of three nights for the festival, and I had just listened to many others singing their hearts away. It was nearly three a.m. and my feet ached and legs were sore, but we couldn’t leave. Tarrus Riley moved around the stage deftly, with the confidence of someone who is accustomed to standing in front of crowds, and who enjoys it. He had so much energy and presence on stage. He moved from lively songs with strong rhythms to crooning ballads about Rastafarianism.
Over the past 16 years, the World Creole Music Festival has built itself into a staple of Creole music. It takes place during the last weekend of October and highlights artists from all over the world, but predominantly from the Caribbean. It showcases artists who are making their mark on mainstream music, like Damian Marley (son of Bob Marley) and artists who are only well-known in the world of Creole music.
I was exhausted by the time we got back to the boat at four a.m.—and I later learned that the show had continued on for two more acts. But it was worth it, and I only wish that I had the energy to stay up later!