Olympic Tracks - MoBay on the move

BY SIMONE MORGAN Observer staff reporter morgans@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, July 20, 2012    

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The Olympics start July 27 with Jamaica expected to figure prominently among the medals. The Jamaica Observer presents the fifth in a series on the hometowns of some of our top athletes.

THOUGH he was raised near Old Harbour in St Catherine, the community of Bogue Hill in St James is the hometown of Yohan Blake, 100 metres World Championship gold medalist who is expected to medal at the London Olympics.

Two weeks ago, the 22-year-old Blake shocked track enthusiasts by defeating reigning Olympic double sprint champion Usain Bolt in the 100 and 200 metres at the National Trials at the National Stadium.

St James is also the birthplace of several musicians and artistes such as the Blues Busters, BB Seaton of the Gaylads, ET Webster, AJ Brown, Karen Smith, and Tommy Lee.

Most of the parish's entertainment is found in Montego Bay, Jamaica's tourist capital. One of the city's hottest spots is the Gloucester Avenue hip-strip which is lined with restaurants, bars and clubs that are open 24 hours.

St James is also where Reggae Sunsplash and Reggae Sumfest started. Sunsplash was first held at Jarrett Park in Montego Bay in 1978, while Sumfest debuted in 1993.

Brown is one of many Jamaican artistes who got his start in the St James hospitality industry.

"St James has always been on the forefront as it regards entertainment. The tourism sector has always been able to attract numerous visitors, hence the parish was always bursting with livelihood," says singer AJ Brown.

Brown graduated from Cornwall College in the late- 1970s, then joined the government's National Youth Service (NYS) and started his music career at the Banana Boat Club in Montego Bay.

"Back in the late-1970s and early-1980s, clubs and hotels such as the Yellow Bird, the Holiday Inn, Casa Blanca and Club Inferno were just a few of the entertainment entities. That era came with a lot of musical excitement as reggae music was in its prime," Brown told Splash.

Apart from local reggae acts, Brown remembers Club Inferno hosting international stars such as the Manhattans, the Stylistics, Inner Circle, Peaches and Herb and the Chi-Lites.

Although the entertainment remains vibrant, Brown believes if there is a union of minds between club operators and hoteliers, it would generate even more income throughout St James.

"If the operators of the all- inclusive hotels would help to promote the clubs in the area and encourage the guests to visit them, then there would be more income for the parish and Jamaica. But I guess that is how businessmen are, sometimes," he said.





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