Tame Rebel Salute opening

Observer senior reporter

Sunday, January 20, 2019

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Friday's opening night of performances at the reggae festival Rebel Salute stayed true to the tradition it has established for itself.

The festival, run by artiste Tony Rebel, got underway at Grizzly's Plantation Cove in Priory, St Ann, under the theme 'The Preservation of Reggae'.

It showcased a strong line-up of reggae acts to the audience that streamed into the expansive, seaside venue. However, the first night of this festival has set a certain precedence for itself over the years.

The audience, despite numbering in the thousands, and including the prime minister of Barbados Mia Mottley and an entourage from that sister Caribbean island, was nowhere near capacity. With it being the final day of the workweek for many, the energy and vibe of the was not at its usual level. Early afternoon showers did not affect the enjoyment factor as the park was nowhere near the muddy conditions which threatened last year's event.

Performance-wise, there were no real standouts on the show. For the most part, all the acts played it safe, while giving commendable performances, but none was able to truly ignite the audience.

The Friday night audience was able to experience the artistry of Dawn Penn and Marcia Aitken, who have not been seen on a local stage in years. Newcomer Koffee, who is appearing on her second Rebel Salute, has been blazing a trail for herself and career over the past year. They were placed alongside some of the perennial favourites. Luciano dropped some of his anthems — Lord Give Me Strength, Give Praise to Rastafari, Messenger, Sweep Over My Soul, and more. Stepehn “Cat” Coore ditched his guitar and stuck to his second instrument of choice, the cello — and treated the audience to his musicianship. Wayne Marshall is another act for whom 2018 was a great year, and the audience eagerly awaited his chart-topping single Glory to God.

The Wailers, Bob Marley's backing band, was brought together for this event and dropped some of the late reggae king's iconic music, much to the delight of the audience. The event was even made more meaningful and emotive when Andrew Tosh, son of Peter Tosh, was incorporated into the set for Johnny Be Good. It was unfortunate that this set ended abruptly as Tosh wanted to perform longer, but an extension would have cut into the running time of the show which was being kept tight.

By 5:30 am deejay Capleton is usually the dose of energy a festival needs to get patrons on their feet. But on this occassion, despite his best efforts, the audience could not muster up the energy required.

Mykal Rose, who has not been on a local stage in some time, with one of his iconic tracks brought the sun up over Grizzly's. Party in Session, Solidarity, Shine Eye Gyal, General Inna Penetentiary, Guess Who's Coming To Dinner, and Police and Thief all packed into his tight 30-minute set. Another Rebel Salute favourite Junior Kelly brought his showmanship and timeless tracks including Receive and Love So Nice to the early morning.

The show would wrap close to 8:00 am with performances from the likes of Terry Ganzie, Chezidek and Chuck Fendah.

Promoter Tony Rebel was upbeat and pleased with his opening night for 2019, which marks the 26th anniversary of the event that started out on January 14, 1994 in Brooks Park, Mandeville, as part of his birthday celebrations.

“Mi good...I'm happy the people came out and enjoyed themselves. The artistes on the show are doing good. The venue is fantastic, the Herb Curb 'shot', so I am pleased with night one. When it started raining this afternoon I knew that it would not disturb the proceedings. Last year when it was muddy I told those around me that I would not hold my head down because I have no control over the rainfall... a nuh me fall rain. That is how I look at things. There must be a reason why it rained, and thankfully we have not been affected by the showers and the show must go on,” he told the Jamaica Observer.

The festival closed last night. Acts such as Chalice, Half Pint, Horace Andy, Rodney Price (Bounty Killer), and Yellow Man were expected to bring the curtains down.

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