Rebel salutes festival

Rebel salutes festival

BY RICHARD JOHNSON
Observer senior reporter
johnsonr@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

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RECORDING artiste and show promoter Tony Rebel is expressing delight with the staging and feedback from his annual two-day reggae festival Rebel Salute, which had its virtual presentation last Friday and Saturday.

According to the artiste, he has been flooded with calls and messages of commendation and support for the festival which, like many similar events, was forced into a virtual staging due to the current global health crisis caused by the coronavirus.

“It was tremendous, and the calls we have been getting have been so positive. People have been calling and messaging from all over the world, saying that they did not sleep in order the catch every minute of the showcase for the two nights,” Tony Rebel noted.

“A lot of people have also been pleased with the format of the presentation. The fact that so many events have been virtual due to COVID, some of the people say they are pleased we didn't go with a string of performances, and instead chose the docuseries format with the narration and interviews. What it did was gave patrons a look at some of their favourite performances over the years, and made some aware of some of the acts that have been with us,” he continued.

For the production team, the hardest part of this year's festival was wading through the more than 500 hours of footage to put into the nearly 13 hours which made last weekend's shows.

“The truth is, we had a different idea for this year's show. Initially, we were going for another venue with all the COVID-19 mitigation protocols in place. But once we realised that the [infection] numbers were not going down and we wouldn't want a situation where it could be felt that we were contributing to the rise in numbers, we had to go with our plan B. That meant nights of going through the footage over the years and deciding what would go and what we just had to leave. Then there was deciding on the various segments we wanted to bring to the people. Like a segment like 'Present in Absence', where we recognised those who are no longer with us. We left off acts like Tyrone Taylor and Garnett Silk but we had to show Toots, as that was his last major event. We spent nights planning and editing in order to present what we did,” he said.

As for the numbers, Tony Rebel noted that while his team has not been able to view the analytics just yet, he is pleased with the initial numbers as presented on social media platforms.

“When you check YouTube we are seeing over 40,00 views within the first eight hours of the broadcast — and that is just one platform. As to the figures during the broadcast itself, we are yet to sit down and go through that. We are already hearing some really good numbers but all that is still to be verified, so I won't even mention all that. But, we are pleased with the numbers,” he added.

Rebel Salute, which started out as a birthday celebration, was first staged in 1994 at Fayor's Entertainment Centre in Mandeville. The following year it moved to Brook's Park in that town where it remained for the next five years. The Port Kaiser Sports Complex in St Elizabeth would be the festival's home from 2001 to 2013. Once the decision was taken to increase the event to two nights, Grizzly's Plantation Cove in Priory, St Ann, became the new home for the festival.


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