Natty Nation hits mark with Reggae on the River
Review and pictures by Charles “Rain” Black

Music on the River, at the McGrath Amphitheater in Cedar Rapids, got off to a great start with perfect weather Saturday evening, May 24, 2014. The featured act for the first show this summer was Natty Nation, hailing from the Madison, Wisconsin area. Since 1995, Natty Nation has toured the Middle East for the Armed Forces, backed up Reggae legends such as Lee “Scratch” Perry, and shared the stage with the likes of Ziggy Marley, Wailing Souls and others.

Many people are familiar with Reggae as a danceable form of music with unique guitar and percussion rhythms, combining African roots with contemporary Caribbean styles. Those who aren't overly familiar with Reggae may not realize it's also a deeply spiritual form of music. Reggae is about creating positive vibrations and pouring out love to all who hear it. Natty Nation laid on the positive vibrations through masterful musicianship and in front man and bass player JAH Boogie's magnetic stage presence.

JAH's bass provided just the right jam to get people in the mood for dancing. People danced throughout the seating area of the amphitheater (there is plenty of room) with some eventually making their way down in front of the stage. It was an interesting mix of people in the audience. Older people listening quietly, younger people digging the rhythms, Reggae fans evident by clothing (lots of red, green, yellow and black) and children running and playing. It was a great evening of music, with a variety of local vendors providing lots of food and drink.

McGrath Amphitheater Music on the River features a performance one Saturday each month during the summer. Visit their Facebook page for more information.

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