Amongst the near countless performers at this year’s Rifflandia – a four day music festival held in Victoria B.C. – one character stood out above the rest: legendary reggae dub pioneer Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry. Standing little over 5 foot 5”, the 80 year old completely charmed the audience at Rifflandia like no one else. His energy was far removed from a man who had lost just about everything at the end of last year. Despite that, spirits were high all around as there was clearly a lot of love for the oldest performer at this year’s festival.
On stage Perry seemed of the highest order, commanding the audience with a microphone in one hand, and glass of red wine in the other. Looking like a musical shaman, Perry treated the audience to tracks from throughout his near-60 year career, including his just released Must Be Free album. Appropriately the audience seemed mesmerized by who they were seeing in front of them. Add in that the festival is an all age’s affair, so there were a surprising amount of families present at Perry’s deep heavy bass groove set. How this will affect the young kids who were there will be interesting to read about in a dozen years.
After playing close to 90 minutes, it was clear Perry had been a huge hit with the audience, and judging from his own reaction, the feeling was not only mutual, but a genuine festival highlight for all who were there as well.
If you are unfamiliar with Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, check out his (arguably) best album Super Ape below: