In 2004, Reggae on the River, the annual northern California festival, and the U.S.'s largest, celebrated its 20th anniversary, and this two-disc DVD gives fans a wonderful memento of the event. Disc one, "The Story," is a lavish and loving promotion for the festival itself, capturing the gala from a multitude of perspectives -- thrilled concert-goers, cheerful organizers, and gracious artists. All are enthusiastic, and why wouldn't they be? For two decades, an event that began as a benefit concert for a local community center has grown to international proportions, while never losing its local roots or the harmonious, happy vibes that have signified the gathering. It's no wonder, then, that reggae artists are as keen to perform at Reggae on the River as fans are to attend. Having been briefly introduced to many of the stars on disc one, the artists are now presented on-stage on disc two. The festival played host to both reggae legends and younger crowd-pleasers in 1994, and so that year's event was particularly representative. Needless to say, the DVD distills the three-day fest down to mere highlights, with most artists receiving a sole song each. But with Culture, Toots & the Maytals, Third World, Beres Hammond, Israel Vibration, Anthony B., and a clutch of Marleys among the many big-name acts, heavy editing was inevitable, and you still get five more performances than on the accompanying CD. As a promo, a memento, or a live DVD, Reggae on the River deserves a prominent place on every reggae fan's DVD shelf.
AllMusic Review by Jo-Ann Greene
Track Listing - Disc 2