Selectors excite patrons at Grace Jamaican Jerk Fest South Florida
A section of the audience at the Grace Jamaican Jerk Festival.

Keeping a huge crowd entertained for hours is no easy task. But for veteran music selectors Richard "Richie D" Martin and Jazzy T, and the members of Extatic Sound, reading a crowd and the choice in music, can go a far way in achieving this goal.

At Sunday's staging of the Grace Jamaican Jerk Festival in South Florida, patrons were taken on a musical high, skipping through decades of music as each selector upped the ante delivering songs that rocked the crowd and which appealed to both young and old.

According to Martin, he doesn't need much preparation to take on the task of an event such as the jerk festival.

"To be honest, I don't really prepare too much, knowing that the jerk festival is a family-oriented event. It really isn't difficult for me, having experienced many events like this. It is not until I actually see the type of crowd I'm working with, and whatever the situation is at the moment, I just go with the flow," said Martin in an interview with Jamaica Observer's Splash shortly after he finished one of his sets at the Grace Jamaican Jerk Festival.

He shared what he enjoyed most about playing at the event.

Richie D.

"What I enjoy most is the freedom of playing pretty much anything and having patrons of all ages singing, dancing, and enjoying themselves. While I was playing, my five-year-old niece Kacy came on stage and hung out with me on my shoulder. I continued playing and persons were singing and enjoying the moment," said Martin.

His set included Shaggy's 1993 updating of Oh Carolina, Eric Donaldson's timeless Cherry Oh Baby, Justin Hinds and the Dominoes' Carry Go Bring Come, and Millie Small's cover of Barbie Gaye's My Boy Lollipop.

Martin, who has played at the jerk festival at least 15 times, is known for producing a number of hit songs. He wrote and produced Lady Saw's Billboard-charting single I've Got Your Man.

For veteran selector Jazzy T, of the famed Renaissance Disco, preparation starts upon arrival at the event.

Jazzy T.

"Well, the preparation goes on in my head when I arrive at the event. I read the crowd and then I will know exactly what to do. However, I do prepare and update music every week regardless of any event," said Jazzy T.

He added: "For the most I like to make the patrons be the decider of what the highlight of my set is. I saw the crowd going crazy for the music and that's what I love; it makes me go harder."

Some of the songs that did the hat-trick for Jazzy T included songs from Busy Signal and Buju Banton's catalogues, Konshens' Bruck Off Yuh Back, and Beres Hammond's Putting Up Resistance.

Said Jazzy T: "The jerk festival brings out a diverse crowd ranging from children to elders, so the selections can be crazy fun. Super clean fun."

DJ Brad and DJ Stretch.

This was his third time playing at the event.

DJ Stretch and his brother DJ Brad comprise Extatic Sound.

Originally from St Ann, they migrated to South Florida more than 15 years ago.

This was their first time playing at the jerk festival and they represented themselves well on the cultural stage.

"Preparing for an event like this is easier than a party. We know the audience that will be grown folks and families, also it's a Caribbean event, so that narrows it down to clean Caribbean music," said DJ Stretch.

He continued: "We have done many of these types of events, including our own Art of Reggae Music Festival, and we did what we would want other DJs to do at our event. The highlight of our set was the time both me and my brother got to play our set in-between the host [Christopher Daley] and the celebrity cook-offs."

DJ Stretch says he hopes to one day play on the main stage at the event.

"What we enjoy most about these events is the nostalgia that people have for our Caribbean music and how the music transcends culture. Grown people tend to have more love and respect for our music and culture and it's shown in the responses from the audience," DJ Stretch reasoned.

Elephant Man's Billboard-charting hit Pon Di River Pon Di Bank, Voice Mail and Delly Ranks' Weh Di Time, and Wayne Marshall's Junkanoo rhythm-driven hit Make Dem Come, assisted Extatic's success.

BY KEVIN JACKSON Observer writer

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