Reggae on the Way, a South Tacoma-based music festival, is expanding over two days this year, bringing more artists to a bigger venue across the city.
The event has outgrown its original home on South Tacoma Way at 54th to 56th Streets, organizer Dan Rankin said, and his team is excited to relaunch it at Haub Family Field at the LeMay Car Museum. this week-end. The venue can accommodate up to 7,000 people and tickets are always available – single entry, package discounts and VIP.
Rankin and his wife Jessica held their first outdoor reggae concert in 2017, the same year they opened Airport Tavern. A few thousand fans take to the streets every August from 2017 to 2019, and then again in 2021, after a pandemic hiatus.
The 2022 festival – promoted with artwork by Justin Oltesvig taking the octopus on the mountain – runs from August 20-21.
In addition to several female-led bands, the lineup includes artists who lean into hip-hop, which Rankin says “changes the vibe of what we do.”
“I just know that Tacoma is really connected to underground hip-hop,” he said, noting the first Tacoma appearance of Protoje, a Jamaican-born artist whose mother, Lorna Bennett, rose to prominence. for the first time as a singer in the 1970s. He joined Kolohe Kai, a Hawaiian reggae-pop ensemble, and Filipino-Hawaiian musician Hirie headlined Saturdays.
The day one lineup also includes three bands from the Pacific Northwest: Ian Ayers and The Soul Purpose, Dub Lounge International and Coloso.
“Our plan has always been to nurture our music scene here,” Rankin said. “There’s a plethora of Pacific Northwest bands here that are reggae bands, and they’re really good. Usually we have one or two, but with two days we are able to do a little more.
On Sunday, Iration, a Hawaiian group that has played festivals across the country since 2008, joins the record with Georgia-based Passafire and The Grouch with DJ Fresh, the second of two hip-hop groups. The show closes with Maui-based singer-songwriter Anuhea along with other West Coast artists, including Bellingham’s Perfect by Tomorrow and Salt Lake City’s Analea Brown.
REGGAE ON THE WAY IS MOVING TO LEMAY
Although he’s no longer physically “on the way,” Rankin said the bigger space next to LeMay means the event can be more for more people.
The festival can expand here, he said, adding that they may consider a second stop in the lower Tacoma Dome parking lot next year.
Fans can enjoy more than music: there will be more food trucks, more water refill stations (reusable bottles allowed), lawn seating (BYO blanket and folding chair), and a recreation area with games like Cornhole, Giant Jenga and Connect4. A wellness tent will be stocked with necessities one might forget, like sunscreen and earplugs, as well as massage chairs. In addition to the main beer garden, VIP ticket holders will have access to a dedicated food truck and private bar, as well as additional shade. An interactive art space will be open to guests and all ticket holders will have in and out privileges.
“We call it a family festival for adults,” Rankin said.
It’s a change of pace for his team, which had just 12 hours to set up for the street festival on South Tacoma Way.
“These streets are not designed to host a festival,” he said.
Rankin has experience with all of the above, having organized live music for Art on the Ave in the Sixth Avenue Business District when he worked at Jazzbones before opening Airport Tavern.
“It’s hard to ask the neighborhood to endure two days of noise,” he continued. “We plan to do something more community-focused for 2023,” likely a free art and music event that will involve other local businesses.
The two-day Reggae on the Way festival follows a July show at Haub Field with Slightly Stoopid, Pepper and Fortunate Youth.
“I’m excited to show people that this is a great space,” Rankin said. He’s heard comparisons to Marymoor Park, a popular outdoor concert venue in Redmond. “I really try to create something a little different and a little more special. I believe Tacoma deserves it.
REGGAE ON THE ROAD
▪ August 20-21, reggaeontheway.com
▪ Haub Family Field at LeMay Car Museum, 2702 ED St., Tacoma
▪ Doors open at noon, music starts at 1 p.m.
▪ Tickets: $55 to $69 for one day, $99 for two days (advance only), $50 additional VIP