Another local radio personality who has been central to the growth of the Austin Reggae Festival is Sista Irie. In addition to hosting the weekly “Conscious Party” program on community station KAZI-FM, she is also the Executive Director of KOOP-FM. Today she talks about why community radio is so important and also shares some of her top reggae-related memories. Join Sista Irie at Auditorium Shores April 14-16 by purchasing your single-day ticket or Three-Day Pass to this year’s event.
QUESTION: What band or musician are you most excited about at the 2017 Austin Reggae Festival?
I am a major fan of Tarrus Riley, having witnessed the evolution of his career from when he first entered the industry until now. Band leader Dean Frazer ensures Tarrus and the Black Soil Band is a fully choreographed production featuring special vignettes of talent.
QUESTION: 2017 will be the 24th year of the Austin Reggae Festival. What is your best memory of this event from year’s past?
Each year provided me with well loved lasting memories. Over 22 years, Austin Reggae Festival has grown and placed itself in a major reggae category festival equal to those on the West Coast. If I had to pick one of my favorite shows, it was the night Morgan Heritage closed the show in 2007.
QUESTION: Over the years, you’ve seen many great reggae / world music shows in Austin and around the world. Is there any single performance that stands out most in your mind?
I have been blessed to see reggae shows all over Europe, Montreal, Jamaica, and the United States. My favorite experience was in Spain seeing how the whole city/town of Benicassim supports Rototom Sunsplash from free bus rides, retailer window displays and festival goer discounts. The town greatly benefits from the partnership. I think Austin could do more to support the Austin Reggae Festival just like it does SXSW.
QUESTION: You have also done a lot of concert photography. Of the hundreds of shots that you have taken, which one do you like the most and why?
The best shots are always surprise opportunities. One year, when it was raining, there was a beautiful Rastaman on stage with his back to me. I captured his natty dread silhouette with the stage lights shimmering from the falling raindrops. I would have gladly traded the shot for a clear night.