Keeping the melody

Observer senior writer

Monday, March 12, 2018

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The popular Startime show takes place on May 5 at Mas Camp in Kingston. The Jamaica Observer , which is one of its sponsors, presents a series of stories on its impact and stars, leading up to the event.

THE Melodians were among the rocksteady acts languishing in obscurity when Heineken Startime launched at Oceana Hotel in downtown Kingston, June 1988.

The harmony trio, known for dance classics such as Swing and Dine and Sweet Sensation, was part of the popular oldies show's early days. Trevor McNaughton, the sole surviving original member, credits Startime for their 1990s revival.

“It help us a lot because wi get popular again in that time. Wi work with John Holt, Ken Boothe, Gregory Isaacs... It was a beautiful time,” McNaughton told the Jamaica Observer.

Brent Dowe and Trevor Brevett, the other original members of The Melodians, died in 2006 and 2013, respectively. McNaughton has soldiered on as leader of the group with Winston Dias and Taurus Alphonso.

Last year, they released The Return of The Melodians, an album that includes fresh versions of hit songs from their heyday in the 1960s at producer Arthur “Duke” Reid's Treasure Isle label.

McNaughton credits Startime for re-exposing The Melodians and their contemporaries to new audiences in the United States and Japan where they performed during Heineken Startime's glory days in the 1990s.

He said the decline of oldies events has not only resulted in less work for so-called vintage artistes, but a lack of respect for him and his peers by promoters and current artistes.

“Shabba (Ranks) seh it years ago, 'respect di elders'. A lot of artistes today don't remember those who come before dem. They don't know they're going to be elders one day.”

Michael Barnett, who started Startime almost 30 years ago, announced in December that the May 5 show at Mas Camp in Kingston will be the long-running show's swan song.

Startime regulars Leroy Sibbles, Marcia Griffiths and Horace Andy, will be joined by Sanchez, Ernie Smith, U Roy and Cornel Campbell, Boris Gardiner and newcomer Xylophone. All will be backed by Lloyd Parks and We The People Band.

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