Tony looks to Rebel 25

Observer senior reporter

Friday, January 12, 2018

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All is in place for this year's staging of Rebel Salute — the two-day reggae festival which starts today at Grizzly's Plantation Cove in Priory, St Ann.

Now celebrating its 25th year, the event has become a staple on the local entertainment calender and its creator, reggae artiste Tony Rebel, says the focus of the event remains producing and presenting a strong Jamaican product featuring authentic reggae music.

“Right now everything is in place for the start of Rebel Salute 2018. We can't watch the naysayers, we just have to press ahead and focus on what we set out to do, and this year is no different. Most of the work in the park started from Monday. So the stage is already up, lighting and sound being fine fine-tuned, sponsors and other service providers are already in the park making sure all is in place for the first patrons,” he told Splash yesterday.

Tony Rebel added that what his team has done from the inception, which is to create a more civilised movement with this festival, remains at the forefront given Jamaica's growing crime statistics.

“We conducted some research and the findings pointed to the need by most of those surveyed for clean and authentic Jamaican music, and over the years we feel Rebel Salute has been able to connect on this level with its audience. This audience is wide and diverse with a Jamaica Tourist Board survey from five years ago noting that 38 per cent of the audience at the event were visitors. That number has indeed grown over the years. At this time, with only 11 days gone in the new year and the murder rate being so high, we definitely want to inspire and motivate... it is something that goes deeper than music.What we want to do with a festival like this is strengthen the consciousness of the people so they can understand that there is a choice.”

Over the next two days, more than 60 acts are scheduled to take to the stage at the festival. This includes the likes of JC Lodge, Althea and Donna, Freddie McGregor, Capleton, Duane Stephenson, Jesse Royal, Pablo Moses, Queen Ifrica, Agent Sasco, Anthony Cruz, Bushman, Big Youth, Ikaya, Elephant Man, Glacia Robinson, Leroy Sibbles, Luciano, and Pinchers.

This extensive roster of artistes has been one of the criticisms levelled at Rebel Salute over the years, but Tony Rebel explained that there is a method for this perceived madness.

“I would love to have 20 acts on the show, that is if each act could give a solid one hour-long performance. The truth is there are some artistes will only be able to do two or three songs and they too need an opportunity to showcase their talent. But aside from that the patronage is wide and diverse. Not everyone who comes to Rebel Salute is able to jump in their car and leave the park when it ends. Some walk home and some rely on public transportation. So we allow the show to run until daybreak. It's also a safety issue. We have always tried to make the event as inclusive as possible, that is why we have included camping in the facilities we offer. Not everyone will be able to stay in a hotel. That should not prevent them from experiencing Rebel Salute,” Tony Rebel stated.

With 25 years almost under his belt, Tony Rebel and his team still have a wish list for the future.

“I would love to see at least 200,000 persons come out for the experience, even if you don't return [and] just to come and say I have been to Rebel Salute. The festival definitely has the capacity to grow to a week-long celebration, so let's see. And I want to present a revolving stage, so we don't waste as much time with band changes. We try to do them as quickly as possible, but it still takes up time and interrupts the flow of the show. That's where I want to take it,” Tony Rebel stated.




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