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An interview with Miami Reggae Festival founder, Afonso D'Niscio Brooks

Miami Reggae Festival is set to take place in just under a month, and features a great lineup of artists from all over the world. We recently had a chat with the festival founder Afonso D'Niscio Brooks and thought we'd share it with you.

What is the best part of producing a music festival?
Watching the footage after the festival. I rarely get to see the performances as the festival is happening. I enjoy watching an overjoyed audience as they watch their favorite groups. Music is an escape from everyday life and at that moment nothing else matters. I take in that energy and enjoy every minute of it knowing that we have made someone happy today and that we have created an anchor point to spread our message of hope.

I know it's kind of a biased question, but out of all the years, who has given in your opinion the greatest performance? At our Miami festivals I have enjoyed Cultura Profetica most and of our New York shows I have enjoyed Buju Banton’s 2007 performance.

How soon do you start booking for the festival? We normally begin booking and pre production about 30 days after the current festival. In the interim of promoting a current festival, we always get requests from artists. We try to explain to inquiring artists to stay in touch with us all year so we can keep them in mind as we are booking for the following year’s festival and not to wait until they see our promo live to reach out to us.

It's a reggae festival, but have you ever considered stepping outside of that format a bit and bringing in other genres of talent? Totally, reggae is love. It is one of the most powerful genres through its musical message and it resonates with our mission. However, we are totally looking into incorporating Rock, Indie and Jam music into our festivals as we expand the movement. We say in the office that Rockers Movement is a merger between Bob Marley, Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan, John Lennon, Fela Kuti, Michael Jackson and Sade. So we hope to come up with something superfly by incorporating their styles and genres at our different festivals in order to have the world claim to all be Rockers as they rightfully are.

What will we see new at this year's event? Our Zero Waste component is something that really excites us. We have been trying to get there for quite a while but have encountered many challenges. We have teamed up with some really wonderful organizations to help bring this to fruition and look forward to releasing some cool numbers that show how we helped make the event more sustainable by thus reducing our carbon footprint. Miami as a city is so far behind on the green agenda and the people in the position to help facilitate this change don’t seem to think it is a priority. This has made it very challenging to move forward and get the results we need. We have been told for 4 years now that the city doesn’t have the resources to help in making our event recycling friendly. If they could only see that being a green city is not only beneficial for us as a city but that it will also attract more visitors. Change is inevitable but we can guide it in the direction we would like it to go. In addition to our green message, we have expanded our audience reach by incorporating 2 new cultures into the Miami Reggae Festival music mix with Tiken Jah Fakoly and Natiruts. I am excited to see how receptive the French/African speaking demo and the Portuguese/Brazilian demo are to these different acts being added to the bill.

Your events benefit quite a number of activism groups and charities, could you detail to us more about that? Rockers Movement is a 501c3 non profit organization and we try to connect with different organizations in the community to strengthen our outreach.  It takes a village to raise a child. We know our strengths is in producing and promoting events so we need the help of other organizations to help us with our goal of raising awareness and empowering the community. If we can do what we do and help those organizations make our community stronger then we must continue to hold hands and move toward building a brighter future for the children.  So you will see us involved with Techo, Feeding South Florida, Curley’s House, and Voices United to name a few as we know the work they are doing is directly benefitting the community.

Who are you most excited to see this year? I am really excited to see Natiruts and Tiken Jah Fakoly. I have seen all the other acts performing before but never these 2 live in concert. Hopefully I will get a moment to just sit and take in their sets. They are 2 great groups and I would love to feel their energy.

How soon do you begin set up for the event on the grounds? We start site building the Monday before the festival.

Thanks for the interview! Looking forward to the festival!
Thank you for the support. What we do is only possible because of people like you.

One Love!

Tickets are on sale HERE, and purchasing a ticket will benefit a lot of great causes. The event is going to be a lot of fun and we can't wait!

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