Reggae Island Music Festival lights up Shoreline Park today

Just found out about this from our theater critic. Thanks Eva! And thanks to Emily Thornton at the Grunion Gazette for filling us in with her story. Unfortunately, all the cheap tickets are gone and it will cost you $38.45 to get tickets online. Sorry, guys!

“Live entertainment, vendors and more will visit the city with the Reggae Island Music Festival this weekend.

The all-ages event — benefitting Community Aid Project for Education (CAPE) — runs from 2 to 10 p.m. Saturday, July 15, at the Shoreline Aquatic Park and Lighthouse (200 Aquarium Way). Long Beach-based CAPE’s mission includes providing low-income students with resources needed for success. Organizers ChugginBrews said they’re unsure how much will go toward CAPE, but will be determined after the fest.

Of course, reggae music is among the highlights, with performers including Sammy J, E.N. Young, The Expanders, Tomorrow’s Bad Seeds and Tenelle.

Cultural performers will include Dancing Fire, a top island dance group, performing rituals from fire breathing to fire wielding, as well as drumming and battle cries.

Native-Kiwi-now-Long-Beach-resident Sammy Johnson (Sammy J) said his music career began with a YouTube video seven years ago. He was a social worker, he said, but had a love of music.

“I always sang with my family,” Johnson said of his upbringing. “it ran in the family… Music is a universal language.”

After Johnson’s video, a Hawaiian-based producer contacted him, he said, offering a record deal.

“Opportunities like that don’t happen to everyone,” Johnson said. “I’m lucky enough it happened to me.”

As far as his Reggae and soul, Johnson said his label thought he aligned with the styles, even though his roots — Polynesian and Maori — aren’t.

“Being Polynesian, a lot of Polynesian cultural stuff is done with reggae,” Johnson said. “And I always had a passion for the old stuff, like Peter Tosh (of The Wailers).”

With his music catching fire, Johnson said he moved to West Hollywood in 2014, and to Long Beach two years ago.

“There are more Polynesians here,” Johnson said. “It kind of felt like home. Hollywood was kind of crazy… It’s (Long Beach) cool and there are quite a lot of interesting things here.”

Among those interesting things, Johnson said are people, who he watches as one of his music writing inspirations. He’s in the midst of writing now, he said.

“It’s usually about something personal, people watching, the differences from where I’m from to here, people close to me,” Johnson said.

One of his current songs,” Leaving Me,” is about his Mormon friend who goes on a mission trip, he said. He later saw his friend’s girlfriend and she was engaged to someone else. Originally, he was going to title the tune with her name, he said, but didn’t want to invite legal problems.

“Because New Zealand is such a small place, everyone knows who it’s about,” Johnson said. “Her family doesn’t like me.”

He noted his upcoming music includes various genres, something he discovered America offers.

“It’s been fun and challenging,” Johnson said. “I’m learning a lot about myself, about different music.”

 He said he’s looking forward to the Long Beach concert.

“The crowd there is super-hype,” Johnson said. “And there’s hella good food. It’s close to home and it’s exciting to be one of the headliners. I’m very blessed to be added to this… If you like reggae and you like soul, you’ll like my music. You’ll be pleasantly surprised.”

Other fest highlights include a beer garden; Kids Zone, with face painting, children’s games, arts and crafts, and dance classes; and games, including giant Jenga, limbo and giant Connect Four.

Food vendors include BrewWings, Mess Hall Canteen, Chubbee Monkee, Street Foods Co., Norigami, Big Juicy’s Wing, Belly and Blood Shot Coffee. Merchants include Renewal by Anderson, Fiesta Ziesta, Cali Vibes Clothing, M. Cigars and Savannah Jewelry.

Tickets are $12.50 to $45 and available at Organizers said they expect them to sell out online.

Parking is available at The Pike structure (65 Cedar Ave.) and surrounding areas.

For more, visit


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