Reggae in the Park for ‘Philly’

BY HOWARD CAMPBELL Observer senior reporter

Wednesday, May 21, 2014    

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ONE of the hottest spots in Kingston during the 1980s was the Epiphany nightclub (current location of the Spanish Court Hotel) in New Kingston. It's where a budding show promoter named Dave Russell got his start in the entertainment business.

Today, Russell is principal of Jamaican Dave Productions, a company that promotes live shows, mainly on the United States east coast.

Their latest venture (in tandem with the giant AEG Live company) is Reggae In The Park, which takes place August 3 at The Mann in Philadelphia.

The show has a diverse lineup led by dancehall stars Konshens and Mavado; American Jewish rapper Matisyahu, veteran bands Inner Circle and Steel Pulse as well as California punk/ska band, The Expendables.

"One of our goals is to get the east coast reggae festival scene as organised on the west coast where there is a sense of unity," Russell told jamaicaobserver.com.

Russell has produced shows in Washington DC, New York City and New Jersey. With Reggae In The Park, he offers a cross-generational card, that has made long-running California shows like Reggae On The River appealing for nearly 30 years.

"It's important to have that (diversity) and that's what we've done with Reggae In The Park. The younger fans will love Konshens or a Mavado, but everybody loves someone like Beres (Hammond) who has been here twice," said Russell.

Hammond, whose career started in the early 1970s, is the elder statesman of contemporary dancehall. Russell credits his appearance on the inaugural Reggae In The Park in 2012 and last year, for drawing healthy crowds.

The Linstead, St Catherine-born Russell was familiar with the dynamics of the American leisure market before he migrated to the US just over 20 years ago.

After leaving the Epiphany, he worked for the Sandals hotel chain on Jamaica's north coast where he got a first-hand feel of

depending on the region they are from

the tastes of Americans.

In the past six years, Russell has promoted shows with Capleton and Morgan Heritage at the Trocadero Theatre in Philadelphia.

Dub Session Sunday is another Jamaican Dave Production in 'Philly', while Reggae Jam was held in Trenton, New Jersey.





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