Class act: Barrington Levy performs at BeachFest in August. *Creative Commons photo by Korall
Class act: Barrington Levy performs at BeachFest in August. *Creative Commons photo by Korall

FRIDAY, JULY 13: Dancehall and reggae legend Barrington Levy is to headline the seventh annual BeachFest this year.

Levy was one of the success stories of the 80s and the concert marks a huge scoop for organizers The Chewstick Foundation.

Levy will share the stage with hip hop band Dead Prez and folk/reggae fusion singer Trevor Hall at the event on August 1 at Horseshoe Bay.

Chewstick’s co-founder Najib ‘Tan Zaoui’ Chentiouf told the Bermuda Sun: “We have Barrington and his group The Detour Band. He is an awesome performer — a classic reggae artist and his songs are timeless. He also brings a great positive vibe and that’s one of the biggest things we line up with.

“We’ve been working getting him here since last year — we tried to get him two years ago and unfortunately it fell through. We have stayed in touch with his management since then and we are really grateful to have him.”

Levy last played in Bermuda at Snorkel Park in 2006. Huge in the 80s, Levy continued to release big hits well into the 90s.

Known for his pure musical style, as a teenager, he took his fresh sound into the great King Tubby’s studio accompanied by the Roots Radics. The first recorded song was Ah Yah We Deh and while he was an instant hit, his song Collie Weed elevated him into the top ranks of dancehall and Shine Eye Gal put him in great demand.

Throughout the 80s he continued to cut big hits including the hugely successful Money Move and perhaps one of his best-known hits, Here I Come which made the top 50 in the UK charts. Levy won Best Vocalist Award at Britain’s Reggae Awards for the album of the same name.

BeachFest takes place over two days again this year (Wednesday, August 1 and Thursday, August 2) with Levy, Hall and Dead Prez playing alongside local artists on the Wednesday night including Joy T Barnum, all-female top 40 cover band Anti Boy, rapper R?ddler and singer Canjalae Taylor.

Trevor Hall will open the international line-up at 10pm on Wednesday. Hall is best known for his hit Other Ways which featured in the Shrek The Third movie.

Chentiouf said: “We wanted to fill a void. Generally we get reggae artists and soca artists in Bermuda. Ultimately we want to be able to be more diverse.

“Trevor is on the verge of really making it, we like his sound and again he will bring a positive element.”

“He’s like a mix between Mishka and Dave Matthews,” added Chewsitck founder Gavin Smith. “He sounds like Dave but he has reggae vibe like Mishka.”

Dead Prez performed at BeachFest two years ago and Chentiouf said they were such a hit they decided to bring them back.

“They were great guys and, unlike a lot of current hip hop bands, they have a serious conscious message. It is a different genre from the reggae and they are really good friends with us.”

There will be a return of the ‘j’overt’-style body painting party at midnight on Wednesday where guests paint themselves and each other with colourful, water-based, non toxic paint.

Thursday’s event will start fresh and early this year running from 9am to 9pm. During the day there will be the usual fun and games including football and volleyball tournaments and, yet to be confirmed, the first ever beach netball tournament as well as the Wacky Races and tug ‘o war.

The live music will mainly be made up of local acts as well as some surprise guests.

Confirmed to play are Sonic Sanctuary, talented dancers the Bermuda Squad, Mike Hind and his ukulele, and the old favourite Live Wires.

Chentiouf said that the Thursday always has an international element but would not confirm any artists.

Security at this year’s event has been bolstered with more of a police presence on the beach and at the gate. There will be no parking on the beach, partly for security reasons, so there will be a shuttle bus service to ferry people to and from the beach from the allocated parking in TN Tatem and South Shore.

No bottles are permitted on the beach and there will be a check point and light searches. St John’s Ambulance will also be at the beach.

Chewstick has also been in consultation with environmental group BEST to discuss how to minimise trash, and more cleaners are allocated for this years event.

Police estimated there were at 12,000 guests last year — Smith said there was no intention of growing the event further, stressing: “We are looking at quality rather than quantity.”

“Most of these staples of our community calendar have been around for 20, 50, 100 years,” he added. “BeachFest has seen a rapid growth going from 2,000 people to a bonafide, full-scale national scale event — the largest event on the island.

“Finally we have got something that will appeal to international artists. It is our biggest and best time to be in Bermuda when people let down their hair and free up and go back to the Bermuda of old.”

When: August 1 & 2
Where: Horseshoe Bay
Time: Wednesday from 6pm to 2am. Thursday from 9am to 9pm.
Tickets: For Wednesday from and Chewstick Foundation headquarters on Court Street. Ticket prices start at $50 in the first week and increase to $60 closer to the event.