Startime says goodbye

By Howard Campbell
Observer senior writer

Sunday, December 16, 2018

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The Jamaica Observer continues its reflection on the year in entertainment. This daily column looks on the achievers, trendsetters, those who died, and the controversies.

IN April, one month before the final Startime show he would produce, show promoter Michael Barnett was not crying in his milk insted, he projected an attitude of, 'the show must go on'.

“The most emotional time for me at any Startime is 8:30 pm, when Lloyd Parks and We The People (Band) strike the first note to know that after six to eight months of tremendous planning, the concert starts on time,” he said. “Tears always come to my eyes. It won't be any different on May 5.”

That date, the curtain came down on the 30-year-old Startime, a popular 'vintage' series that revived Jamaica's love for rocksteady music of the mid-and late 1960s. A full house showed up at Mas Camp in east Kingston to dance the night away to the music of Leroy Sibbles, Marcia Griffiths, Horace Andy, Ernie Smith, Sanchez, U-Roy, Cornel Campbell, Boris Gardiner and newcomer Xylophone.

Barnett put an end to Startime due to lack of corporate support. He started the event in a lounge at Oceana Hotel, in 1988, as an intimate affair that attracted lovers of 'oldies' music similar to Rae Town dances on Sundays.

That expanded during the 1990s when Barnett teamed with Keith Brown to form MKB Productions. With Heineken as sponsors, they promoted Heineken Startime which featured artistes like Sibbles, Andy, Griffiths, Alton Ellis, John Holt, The Melodians, The Techniques, Dennis Brown, Gregory Isaacs, Culture, Johnny Clarke, and many more.

It gave a number of forgotten artistes a career revival, as they performed in Europe, North America and Japan.

At the time of Startime's swansong, several of those performers had died. Barnett, who considered them his boyhood heroes, has not turned his back on show promotion; he is part of Team USAJA, a company that plans to stage entertainment events in the United States.

Their first venture, Let's Go Dancin', took place in October in Atlanta, Georgia.

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