Horseman bets on Stars R Us

By Howard Campbell
Observer senior writer

Saturday, September 15, 2018

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The rocksteady revival that started in the late 1980s was still going strong when Marvin Pitterson launched Stars R Us in 2000. Most promoters involved with that comeback have packed it in, but the man known as Horseman believes the odds of 'vintage' shows staying the course, are good.

Stars R Us returns on October 13 at Ranny Williams Entertainment Centre in St Andrew, with a cast of artistes from the 1970s and 1980s. The line-up, he believes, is evidence of rocksteady/roots-reggae's staying power.

“We still have plenty artistes around to keep things alive, especially if we preserve it the right and proper way. It's a musical heritage so we have to protect it,” Pitterson told the Jamaica Observer.

The latest edition of Stars R Us has The Wailing Souls, Carl Dawkins, Big Youth, George Nooks, Cocoa Tea, Half Pint, Admiral Bailey, and Josey Wales. The 'Souls', which formed in Trench Town during the 1960s, had a hit run at Channel One in the mid-and late 1970s, but rarely perform in Jamaica.

Like Big Youth, they are in demand throughout Europe and have solid support in reggae-mad countries like Brazil and Japan. Nooks, who also thrived in the late 1970s, has successfully refashioned himself as a gospel act while mass sampling of 1980s dancehall has helped keep Cocoa Tea, Half Pint, Admiral Bailey and Josey Wales on the front-burner.

“What we try an' do is blend it (line-up) with some 70s and some 80s 'cause dem (fans) don't want things too old and don't want it too current,” Pitterson explained.

The younger brother of respected engineer/producer Karl Pitterson (Bob Marley and The Wailers, Steel Pulse, etc), Pitterson is best known as the unofficial photographer for racing at Caymanas Park, hence his equine-inspired moniker.

Almost 20 years ago, he got into show promotion seriously with Stars R Us. It joined Heineken Startime, Reggae Sumfest, Reggae Sunsplash and Sting as promoters of 'oldies' music.

That flurry has cooled considerably, with the trailblazing Startime calling it a day with its final show in May. Organisers cited lack of sponsorship as the main reason for walking away.

Though he acknowledges a challenging financial climate in Jamaica, Pitterson is confident he will get support for his show. He points to the previous event, held last year April on the final day of Boys and Girls Championships, as proof.

“Everybody sey we would lose but we got a great turnout. That's di thing about vintage shows, people always support it,” he said.

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