The singer recalled performing at the location years ago in the early '90s, before the iconic Rock & Roll Hall of Fame would open its doors near the same spot. Even back then, the scenic location felt like the perfect place for reggae's "one love" spirit.
Coupled with another important occasion and the release of Jones’ album Leave a Trail, coming back to Voinovich felt momentous, Jones says.
“Last year … [Reggae Fest] just happened to be the birthday of the guy we called Papa Dave, who was the leader of I-Tal,” Jones says. “Unfortunately, he’s no longer with us, but that was a beautiful thing to be able to acknowledge and celebrate.
“We also released our new CD that day,” he adds. “It just really seemed like the stars were aligned and the sun was shining on us, and everything felt like it was meant to be it was perfect.”
The cosmic-feeling event, now called Rock N Reggae Fest, returns to Voinovich Park on May 27 and 28 with a second day after last year’s event sold out. Of course, Jones and his act, the P.L.U.S. Band, will be there jamming.
Adam Bossin, founder of local event organizers Taste CLE, took the proverbial reigns on regional reggae festivities seven years ago. Now, Bossin has the wiggle room to expand the sound of the event.
“There’s really two forms of reggae music now: there’s roots reggae, which is your traditional style … Carlos [Jones] and Bob Marley and Shaba and all these more traditional old school guys,” Bossin says. “But there’s a new version of reggae where it’s kind of what I like to call ‘happy beach music.’ And that’s like Sublime.”
So, day one holds it down for newcomers — upbeat rockers like Cloud9 Vibes. Day two boasts a lineup of roots masters like Jones, jamming that traditional, Jamaican-influenced sound.
The event is sponsored by Bossin’s most recent venture, a 501 (c) nonprofit called 1 Million Hearts, which aims to get 1 million people willing to donate just $1 regularly to various causes.
Ahead of the festivities, Jones looks forward to that “one love” energy that brings him back every year.
“For the 40-plus years that I’ve been doing this, I’ve always noticed that there never seems to be any trouble or any bad feelings,” he says. “When we get together and get immersed in this vibration … that’s what ‘one love’ is all about.”