BY JACK LOWENSTEIN
On Saturday, March 25, Wellington will welcome the inaugural Reggae4Cure Family Fun Day & Food Festival to the Wellington Amphitheater.
The event has been brought to the village in memory of entertainment promoter Taj James, who died from sickle-cell disease.
His entertainment partner, Fitzroy “JR Blacks” Brown, put together this event through the partnership of his own organizations, SupaJamz and CaribFlex Entertainment, with the Sickle Cell Foundation of Palm Beach and the Treasure Coast. The event is also being supported by Concepts magazine.
Proceeds from the event will go to the sickle cell foundation. Brown also hopes proceeds can be taken to Jamaica to provide support there as well.
“Reggae4Cure wants to move forward and be an event that recognizes other illnesses each year that may not be in the spotlight every day, but sickle cell will always be the umbrella,” Brown said. “It’s a team effort. We all came together to make this event work.”
Brown and James met each other through a mutual friend in Jamaica, the island country from which they both came. They were the founders and promoters of the local reggae event One Love Reggae Fest, which debuted at the South Florida Fairgrounds in 2010.
“After the response we got back from that first event, we decided, ‘OK, let’s make this a yearly event,’ which became very successful. We had more than 3,000 people in attendance each year, violence-free, which was very important to us, and everybody walked away enjoying themselves,” Brown said.
In order to enjoy reggae music in Florida, you usually have to go to a larger metropolitan area such as Miami, Brown said. They wanted to bring the Caribbean vibrations of reggae music and culture to Palm Beach County.
After the passing of James, Brown looked for a way to keep the reggae festival concept alive, eventually choosing the Wellington Amphitheater as its new venue.
“We chose Wellington because over the years, because of the One Love event that we had created, other promoters decided to go in that direction,” Brown said. “It was that one concert we went to, the Vanilla Ice show. When we were actually in the crowd, we felt the vibe, and we just knew this is where we are going to do our event.”
Reggae4Cure will feature popular artists, local artists and DJs specializing in reggae music.
“We will have in our presence on March 25 one of Bob Marley’s sons. The legendary Ky-Mani Marley is performing as a special guest, and he did promise that he will give Wellington a treat,” Brown said.
The lineup for the show includes Tanto Metro and Devonte, the Reggae Souljahs Band, Rasun, Jahzilla, Making Faces and Spread the Dub.
“Most of these artists are coming to give support. Some do have families or friends that are affected by sickle cell,” Brown said.
Brown also wants to make sure the focus of the event is on education and raising awareness for those affected by the disease. The reggae music is the binder to bring people together for the cause.
“Sometimes music takes you to a place that you just forget that anything is wrong, and that’s the thing that we want to bring to those families, especially the attendees that deal with this disease,” he said.
General admission to the event is $10. There are limited VIP tickets available for purchase online only from $25 to $35. Children under 10 years old can attend the event free of charge. For more event information, or to purchase tickets, visit www.reggaeforcure.com.
Brick-and-mortar ticket locations to buy tickets include Caribbean Choice Bakery & Restaurant, Yardstyle Cuisine, Reggae Jerk Restaurant, Peenie Wallies Seafood Restaurant, Good Clean Vapes and Exotic Vapes.
Aside from authentic reggae music, attendees will also get to enjoy tropical cuisine and a variety of craft vendors during the all-day event. Gates open at 2 p.m. and the music starts at 3 p.m.
Brown originally moved to New York in the 1980s. It was there he became a DJ. He did that for a decade before continuing to spread his roots in reggae music.
“I wanted to go beyond that, so I got into some recording, getting into the engineering angle of it. It’s just a matter of wanting more. I saw a lack of events going on when I moved down into Florida in 2010,” Brown said. “I saw a lot of events, but not reggae events. The average Floridians didn’t know much about Jamaica, and didn’t know much about reggae. So, for me, I wanted to bring that form of entertainment here to entertain them and educate them at the same time about Jamaica and reggae music.”
Brown said James was always talking about giving back to the community when it came to creating events and spreading reggae.
“So what inspired us to do this event was to give back to the cause,” Brown said. “It’s funny, because one of his favorite quotes is ‘music heals.’”