ROCHESTER - Renowned reggae musicians Jafé Paulino and Adoni Xavier don't make it up to New Hampshire that much, but they had nothing but kudos and kind words for the north country while hanging out at the Governor's Inn 6th annual Reggae and Craft Beer Fest on gray Saturday in Rochester.
Inn owner Herman Ejarque moved the bands inside to the Governor's Inn ballroom, but there was still plenty of great music, food and fellowship among a crowd that stretched across much of the inn's grounds where tents had been put up to shelter guests and vendors who set up across the back lawn.
Paulino, who along with Xavier, plays lead guitar for Taj Weeks and Adowa, said they played Lebanon, N.H., on Thursday and made their way down to Rochester on Friday.
|Adoni Xavier, left, and Jafé Paulino enjoy a day of listening to music at the Governor's Inn reggae fest before playing later Saturday night.|
"New Hampshire is beautiful, very progressive on a social level," Paulino said. "In Rochester they were very welcoming. I randomly walked into a tattoo shop here and got this," he added showing some fresh ink on his forearm.
Paulino, who hails from Harlem, N.Y., said he'd been with the band for about two years, while Xavier, who lives in Brooklyn, has been playing with them a decade.
They characterized their music as a rock/roots/reggae hybrid and said what sets them apart from many reggae bands is the "intelligent" lyrics created by band leader Weeks.
"His lyrics stand out," Paulino said. "He is a great writer."
The band has recently been touring the U.S. and Canada, but has also played at festivals in Europe as well as the Monterey Jazz Festival in California.
Taj Weeks was one of five internationally known reggae bands to play at the festival, which ran from Noon-11 p.m.
|Addy J's Tye-Dyes of Milton Mills had a booth at the festival tended by, from left, Shannon Foster, Amanda Boudreau, Addyson Averill, 3, and Michael Averill|
Throughout the day jerk Jamaican chicken, pulled chicken, pulled pork, rice and beans, cheeseburgers, tortillas and other yummy food was available at an outside food area set up beneath a tent.
Vendors selling everything from handmade jewelry to tie-dye shirts to beer, ale and hard cider and even massages were set up on the inn's back gardens.
Duppy Conquero, a Bob Marley-inspired band, opened the show with their diverse array of artists led by Boston-based and Montego Bay-born singer Greg Roy, who admits growing up he never listened to Bob Marley.
"For me my appreciation of Bob Marley grew over time," he said after playing a two-hour set before an appreciative, cheering audience.
For the band's final song, many left the stage for him to play and almost-acoustic Marley classic "Redemption Song."
Coincidentally, when he's not fronting Duppy Conquero, he plays acoustic gigs in Boston, he said.
He summed up his love of reggae and music with an homage to his homeland.
"Jamaica is one big house of music, and whatever floor you get off, it's cool," he said.
Asked if he tried to sound like Bob Marley, he shrugged his shoulders.
"I don't even think I sound like him," he said.