A section of the crowd attending a previousstaging of Rebel Salute in St Ann.

THERE will be no staging of Rebel Salute this year.

The organiser of the two-day event, reggae singer Tony Rebel, told the Jamaica Observer that the event — traditionally held in January to coincide with his birthday — will not be held this year, the first time in its 28-year history.

“The pandemic has obviously taken a toll on everything so we have just decided to put everything on pause. We have, as a family, decided not to do the virtual event which is something we did last year. So we're just going to take the year-off and use the time to observe what is happening and come back for our 30th anniversary,” he said.

“We would love to stage Rebel Salute for our patrons who have really shown us love and support over the years, but the plain truth is, it is just not possible. Omicron and its numbers have prevailed so we just have to sit this out. It is not like we don't want to do something for the people but an event at this time would be reckless and irresponsible,” Tony Rebel continued.

His sentiments were supported by his daughter and legal counsel Jayudah Barrett.

“COVID numbers are at a record high, not just here in Jamaica but globally, and with the restriction on large gathering, we know for sure that we couldn't stage the type of event we are accustomed to. But there are people who ask what about a virtual staging? We have done some research, which includes feedback from entertainment practitioners who have done these virtual events and what we are finding is that they are not viable. Rebel Salute patrons still like that live festival vibe which they don't get virtually. We are a family-oriented event so a live event at this time would be in direct contravention of everything we stand for, and an attack on the health and wellness of our people,” said Barrett.

Rebel Salute was one of the last major entertainment events to be held just prior to the onset of the pandemic in 2020. Last year, Tony Rebel and his team put together a virtual showcase over two days which included recorded performances as well as archival footage from previous stagings of the festival.

Rebel Salute was first held at the Fayor's Entertainment Centre in Mandeville, then moved to Brook's Park, also in that town, then on to the Port Kaiser Sports Club in St Elizabeth, before settling at Grizzly's Plantation Cove in Priory, St Ann, since 2013.

Over the years, the festival's stage has seen performances by some of the biggest names in reggae and become an incubator for some young and little known acts who would later grow to acclaim in the music. Artistes such as Garnett Silk, Jimmy Cliff, Steel Pulse, Third World, Beres Hammond, a young Chronixx, and Koffee have all performed at the festival.

“We have no control over this thing, so the best thing is to be patient and disciplined. Patient and wait until the time is right, and disciplined to do what it takes to ensure to do Rebel Salute right again. So we're just going to give it the space it needs, recalibrate and come forward with a better Rebel Salute when the time is right,” said Tony Rebel.

Tony Rebel
BY RICHARD JOHNSON Observer senior reporter johnsonr@jamaicaobserver.com

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