Rumfest 2015: Rum, Ribs & Reggae | Canefire | Swan Valley, Perth

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Perth has a massive love affair with the reggae music scene; a vibe that fits so perfectly over here. Combine that with a hot summer’s day, refreshing rum cocktails and ridiculously tasty ribs and you have yourself an absolute winner of a day.

Held at Swan Valley’s very own rum distillery, Perth’s Canefire came alive last Saturday 10th October for the 2015 Rumfest. Buzzing with reggae, rum and rib lovers from all over the atmosphere was everything it should be – happily mellow, fun and pumping with flavour.

Kickstarting at a relatively early 10am, this years’ Rumfest had a new rib eating competition, enticing the Man vs. Food enthusiasts of Perth to come down and get in on the challenge. Complete with some of the hottest live local acts and of course the famous Canefire rum delights, 2015 Rumfest went off with a bang.

The Rum

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On a 30+ degree day, there’s nothing like sipping on a ice cold rum cocktail. And The Great Northern Distillery is the producer of some of the finest rum products (including the internationally acclaimed Canefire rum), so it was a very fitting location for the Rumfest to be held.

The main outdoor bar was jammed packed with people trying to get their rum fix so we made our way to the VIP area to check out what rum cocktails were on offer. And boy were there some goodies! From pre-made mango rum slushies to all the favourites including Mojitos, Caiprioskas, Strawberry Daquiries and so much more, there was certainly something for every rum-tasting palette (plus, some beers and rum spirits for those that weren’t in a cocktail drinking mood).

Round one, I opted for the spiced rum and fresh lime cocktail with ginger beer which was a super refreshing option for the day and a Fruit Tingle layered with bright colours and a hell of a lot of flavour – delish!

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For those that haven’t been to Canefire yet, it’s a must to check out (even on a non Rumfest day!). Located in the heart of the Swan Valley, Canefire is Western Australia’s very own rum – a unique spirit that’s made from a rum like brew of sugar called a ‘patch’. Unlike other rums, which are made from molasses, Canefire is much less harsh to drink, so ideal for the non-rum drinker or anyone that prefers something a little smoother.

Canefire starts off as a sugar cane growing in the Kimberley region of Western Australia. It’s then harvested and processed to an unrefined sugar to remove any methanol and other nasty by-products that give you that really back headache hangover and brewed with high quality yeasts, longer than any other spirit because a good brew takes time! And the end result? A smooth, sweet, full-flavour tasting rum!

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The Ribs

There’s nothing like getting a plate of ribs that are cooked to perfection and the ribs at this years’ Rumfest were no exception. There were a few flavours to chose from but being a spicy food and lamb lover, I couldn’t go pass the hot lamb ribs whilst my friend checked out the Jamaican jerk chicken van. Wow.

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After finishing off our first round of tasty goodies, we went back and got another two plates of ribs – they were just that good! Slow cooked meat that melted in your mouth (and yes, fell off the bone before you bit into them) they were easily the best tasting ribs I’ve eaten. Pity about the “hot” spice though, well lack of. The Jamaican jerk chicken on the other hand was deliciously spicy which made up for it though.

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And of Course… The Reggae Tunes

The magic of the day couldn’t have happened without the live reggae beats to fuel the festive celebrations. And with three bands and three DJ’s on board, there was a few dancing numbers for every musical taste. UK DJ Upfront opened the event to get the early rollers into that roots-reggae vibe, with The Unites taking the stage straight after, a heavy bass rhythm delight that fused together a mix of reggae with a touch of modern one drop.

Rastaman General Justice took over the decks with his smooth rolling beats warming up the crowd beautifully before and after the rib eating competition. The Isolites exploded onto the stage next shaking and shimmering with all things ska and rocksteady. Now this 7-piece know how to get the crowd moving! Complete with 60’s infused Jamaican and Caribbean style tunes and an energy about them that’s simply contagious, The Isolites were fun, lively and just made you want to boogie!

The voices of Coo Jarvis and Tayo Snowball blended together superbly, with Tayo enticing the crowd at every opportunity to get up and groove. Between songs about rum (very fitting for the occasion!), love and a dedication to the Rastaman himself, General Justice, they played a solid mix of covers and originals. Backed up by a swingin’ rhythm section, the audience were absolutely lapping it up – especially in between verses when Tayo got out and danced with everyone. Whilst the sound system was sadly disappointing, which eventually led the band ‘blowing up the set’ in the last of their encores, they definitely spread the reggae love and warmth for the rest of the day.

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Representing old school reggae and vocal harmonies, New Zealand born Cera Kymarni got the crowd moving, despite the weather starting to really heat things up. Backed by her band, the Lioness Movement, they played a few ‘Uncle’ Bob Marley classics that were a huge hit (because let’s face it, you can’t have a reggae festival without Bob Marley!) and timeless 90’s – early 2000 hip hop tracks including Blu Cantrell.

The voices of these soul sisters were passionate and beautiful, with a good part of the Rumfest crowd working their way to the d-floor to soak it all up. With messages of love and friendship between tracks, Cera and her crew put on a mind-blowing show. Sadly though, the sound system didn’t live up to the moment again and the set was cut just that little bit too short.

DJ Mumma Trees finished off the afternoon with her love of reggae and dancehall music oozing through the decks. As the crowd started to slowly die down or find a spot of shade to chill out and relax in, it was the perfect way to end Rumfest 2015.

Whilst the reggae bands and DJ’s entertained the general crowd on the main stage, the VIP garden had it’s own entertainment which included a few solo artists performing relaxing covers. Although it was much better being out with the crowd and by the main stage, it offered a more secluded area to cool down in or avoid the long drink queues. For those going next year, it’s almost worth paying the extra bit ($50) to have the luxury of both parts – especially on a 30+ degree day!

Rumfest 2015 was a winner, but there can certainly be some improvements for next year including the sound system and even organising another outside bar. But all the same – I’ll be back in 2016. And if you love rum, ribs and reggae then make sure you check it out too!

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Music Journalist + Online Copywriter

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