Reggae Festival Guide
Reggae Festival Guide, an annual, international magazine focused on reggae music festivals throughout the United States and Canada, is based in Reno and recently celebrated its 20th anniversary.
The magazine was started in the mid 1990s by a young reggae fan named Kaati. (She goes by a mononym, like Madonna, Cher or Prince.) She’s originally from the Bay Area and had worked in her family’s business, publishing boating and yachting magazines.
“Because it was a family business, I could say, ’Oh, I want to try circulation,’ and do that for a year and then try something else,” she said “So, I learned all aspects of magazine publishing.”
She got involved with the Sierra Nevada World Music festival, which was then called Gathering of the Vibes, and because of her experience in the publishing world, she was in charge of creating printed programs for the event. And what started as a guide to a single festival quickly expanded to a guide to festivals all over California, and then all across the continent.
The magazine does annual press runs of 100,000 issues every May distributed all around the U.S. and Canada. The free periodical is supported by advertising including record labels, hydroponics companies and clothing labels. Additionally, the magazine’s website attracts more than 30,000 viewers. And 12 years ago, Kaati began publishing a second magazine, Blues Festival Guide, which serves a similar function for a different style of music.
In recent years, according to Kaati, the editorial content of the magazine has improved, which she credits to editor Anthony Postman, who has held the post for seven years. He’s a familiar fixture to many local music fans. He has hosted reggae-oriented shows on local radio stations and played in local reggae bands, like Keyser Soze and Jahzilla.
“He brought it to a whole other level,” said Kaati about Postman. “Our editorial [content] has gone way up, in my opinion. I’m proud of our editorial.”
“One of the areas that I tried to do was to bring in some outreach, to feature people and organizations that are just doing good in their community, raising awareness both within the reggae community and the wider community at large,” said Postman. “It’s where people involved in reggae try to reach out into the world, try to make the world a better place.”
For Postman, social consciousness is the “real lifeblood of reggae music.” Recent stories have focused on things like members of the band Rootz Underground promoting environmental awareness among children in places like Jamaica and Costa Rica. Author Rogers Steffens, one of the world’s foremost reggae historians and Bob Marley archivists, wrote a profile of Errol Brown, a live sound and recording engineer who worked with Marley.
“Roger is brilliant in his knowledge because the feature is about Errol Brown, but it touches on a lot of the early producers of Jamaican reggae music,” said Postman.
Postman said many of the writers that he works with regularly, like Jake Homiak, an anthropologist at the Smithsonian Institute, and book editor Chuck Foster, take a more historically oriented view of reggae music, placing the music in its historical context and exploring the social, political and spiritual messages of the music.
“That’s one of the biggest things that I hoped to bring in, was a little bit more of a focus on the spiritual movement that has informed reggae music since its inception, which is of course the movement of Rastafari,” said Postman.
“A lot of people—young people—get into reggae because of Bob Marley and because of herb,” said Kaati. “They don’t really know much about reggae, so if they pick up a reggae magazine and they see the depth. … We don’t care why they come in. They might come for the weed, but leave with a little bit of knowledge. We’re hoping to turn people on to the history and culture.”