Phenomenal Lee “Scratch” Perry “Memorial Set” at Cali Vibes Festival
When: February 19, 2023
Where: Cali Vibes Reggae Festival – Long Beach CA
Reporter: Stephen Cooper
Footage: Stephen Cooper – Edited/Compiled by Teacher@ReggaeVibes
Photos: Stephen Cooper – Edited by Teacher@ReggaeVibes
Copyright: 2023 – Stephen Cooper
Being a giant fan of the legendary Lee “Scratch” Perry, and, having been blessed to have smoked spliffs and reasoned with Scratch before he passed—officially, in interviews—I was ecstatic to attend, on February 19, a tribute for “The Upsetter” at the Cali Vibes reggae festival in Long Beach.
Performed by his former bandmates and dear friends, legendary conga player Larry McDonald, sensational saxophonist Troy Simms, and, Subatomic Sound System’s versatile co-founder and instrumentalist, Emch, the “memorial set” began with several tunes off of Scratch & Subatomic Sound’s critically acclaimed 2017 album: “Super Ape Returns to Conquer.” From there, the already irie vibes picked up pace with the electric and inventive vocal stylings of Jahdan Blakkamoore—a dynamic artist and also a former friend and artistic collaborator of Perry’s.
Blakkamoore’s bad-ass blend of reggae and hip hop brought the crowd to a near-frenzy before Mykal Rose, the true standout, legendary star of the entire festival—though oddly he was not billed as such—took the stage. Last year, I wrote Rose is unquestionably one of the greatest Jamaican singers ever, as well as one of the greatest singers in any genre; Rose’s wickedly brilliant performance at this year’s Cali Vibes festival cemented my opinion. The iconic and edgy former Black Uhuru singer’s sizzling-hot singing—and dancing—was something everyone should listen to and behold.
To that end, I hope music lovers worldwide will enjoy the photos and video footage I took—and that accompany this article—to document this magical, mystical event. Many, many thanks to Emch, “Golden Voice,” and to everyone associated with the Cali Vibes festival for: graciously giving me the best spot to see this righteous musical livication for Scratch, right in front of the stage—and the authorization to publish everything my camera observed.