Rebel salutes festival

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

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REBEL Salute promoter Tony Rebel is proud with the outcome of this year's festival which unfolded at Grizzly's Plantation Cove in Priory, St Ann, last Friday and Saturday.

For him, the two-day event — which observed its 26th year —has developed its own structure and is now settling into character. One of the key features is providing a space where patrons and artistes can not only enjoy themselves but also speak their truth. This, he believes, was set from the genesis of the festival, originally staged to observe his birthday in 1994.

“This is a truth that is never disrespectful, but honest and balanced. We saw that clearly this year with Queen Ifrica,” Tony Rebel told the Jamaica Observer.

“She was able to address both the prime minister and the leader of the Opposition on matters she thinks pertinent. We are so proud of the way she spoke her truth. Many are likening it to the action by Bob Marley when he spoke his truth and called then Prime Minister Michael Manley and Opposition Leader Edward Seaga on stage,” he continued.

Another moment of truth for Tony Rebel was the performance by Ugandan politician and artiste Bobi Wine, whom he said brought Africa to Jamaica and took Rebel Salute back to the continent.

“I am so happy with that connection with Africa, sharing that golden majestic heritage. Bobi Wine was able to make that connection. He could speak his truth on stage, something that he cannot do in Uganda. It is estimated that his constituency numbers two million and via that live stream many were able to watch his performance in Jamaica,” he said.

The artiste/promoter believes many local artistes need to take a page out of Bobi Wine's book in terms of his work ethic and commitment to a cause.

“Most Jamaican artistes want to be on stage by midnight. Not understanding the honour and privilege it is to be the closing act on a show like this. Dennis Brown showed how it is done, closing Reggae Sunsplash for years. This was Bobi Wine's first time in Jamaica. Many were hearing his music for the first time, yet, at the end of his set, he got a standing ovation. That is a commitment and a truth that we have to big up,” Rebel stated.

He addressed a sore point for some fans — the show's length and shortened set for some popular acts, noting that keen attention has to be paid to the roster of acts. On the festival's closing day, with time running out, artistes including Bushman were forced to cut their performance short.

“We have not had our debriefing yet, but the truth is, we know we will have to look at the line-up of artistes. We are aware that less is more, but realise that artistes need to be a lot more disciplined in order for things to run as planned. We say to artistes, 'make your set a hit parade... just come perform your popular songs that the audience can enjoy and sing along. If you have a song you are promoting, then drop that in the mix, make it tight'. But some people stray from the guidelines. Some acts don't show up on time and that just throws the schedule out of line. So those are the things we will look into in order to make 2020 a shining example of what we are trying to promote,” Tony Rebel explained.

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