Getting back to the garden

Macka B and the Roots Ragga Band stir it up at last year’s Reggae Garden Festival at the Town Gardens Bowl

Macka B and the Roots Ragga Band stir it up at last year’s Reggae Garden Festival at the Town Gardens Bowl

First published in News by

THE TOWN Gardens Bowl will reverberate with a reggae beat once more as the Reggae Garden Festival returns for its fourth year after its humble beginnings as a send-off party.

On September 6 giants of the reggae scene across the UK will come to Swindon for one of the last events in the festival calendar, as the event has drawn sell-out crowds year-on-year.

AJ Mayhew, event organiser for the Reggae Garden, said he had been surprised at the positive response to the genre in Swindon.

“Myself and my friend Paul Bullimore have been organising the festival, which is now in its fourth year, and it has been going from strength to strength,” he said.

“It is a sell-out every year, which is great in that we are basically bringing the reggae culture to Swindon one day of the year.

“It’s all about the music and Caribbean food, with activities for the children as well, which is being organised by Youth Life Project.”

The event took off after a suprise turnout for a leaving party saw hundreds attending the first incarnation.

“It all started when I was going out of the country for a long period of time to do a music tour in Australia,” said AJ.

“We had planned to have a party for me going away, but then I thought lets have a proper event.

“I’m an event organiser in Swindon anyway and have done a lot with SUJU and the old Brunel Rooms.

“Bully does all the sound production so it’s a good team .

“We have worked together for years and are good friends as well. When we started out we just booked some bands on a Sunday afternoon and we had about 1,300 people turn up.

“We had no idea it would get as big as it has.

“We have had big names like Tippa Irie, Solo Banton, YT, Murray Man and Maccabee, and come September 6 will be the end of the festival season, so it will be a great way to round it off.

“This year we are lucky to have Saxon Soul International, who have been around since the 1970s and do Notting Hill Carnival every year. It is amazing we have got them and all the old heads will be keen on them.

“We also have Earl Sixteen and the Uppercut Band, Barry Dread and the Zion Tree Band, and the Friendly Fire band, who have a residency with us every year.

“At first, when the festival was unknown, we had to use our connections to get the ball rolling, but now we have bands coming to us to ask to play.”

The event will last through the day on September 6 at the Town Gardens Bowl.

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