Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Rebel Salute Chronicles - Friday Night January 13

I’d heard that Jamaica was ‘cold’ and immediately thought “what do Jamaicans know about cold?”. After arrival and meeting up with Padmore Primary School’s Principal - Keisha Hayle for a lovely Port Royal fish dinner – I knew exactly what was meant. Jamaicans were dressed for a NY autumn day, the proliferation of hoodies, sweatshirts, boots and yes even scarves took me aback – until I sat down and felt that cold breeze coming off the harbor; seeping into my bones. Traveling to Ocho Rios was no better, it rained and when I say rain – I mean Jamaican monsoon rain! I planned to curl up in bed on the Friday night as I didn’t fancy getting wet, but I’m glad I listened to Michelle Arthurton and Sandra Edwards-Smith who advised there was no rain at the venue and urged me to throw off any health fears I might have. Their enthusiasm was catching and before long I found myself changing and getting ready to make the short drive to Grizzly’s Cove in the Garden Parish for the opening night of the 24th staging of Rebel Salute in honor of the earthstrong celebration for Tony Rebel.It was a pleasure to see New York artists, Sister Nancy, Ed Robinson and Ras-T billed for the show and the performances I witnessed of Sister Nancy and Ed Robinson were more than well received with Ed Robinson garnering the first forwards of the evening. Vuvuzuela’s (that staple Rio klaxon) rang out across the large expanse bouncing back from the ocean into the crowd when Ed launched into his popular set including the evergreen ‘Knocking on Heaven’s Door’ and ‘If I Follow my Heart’.  He also managed to throw in tribute songs to Alton Ellis and Dennis Brown too – more than amply showcasing his vocal dexterity.   

There was music from Californian Reggae artist – Harrison with his rock reggae infused set, but for the first night, I have to say the veteran artists not only brought their ‘A’ game – they put all other performers to shame! This fact shows me and others who were in attendance that respect must be given and is certainly due to those who have paved the way for Reggae to reach the plateau it has attained.  The Astronauts’ Michael Beckford and Zak Henry showed the crowd in song why Jamaica is such an island paradise with their ‘Born Jamaican’, General Trees with his brilliant comic timing in Horse Tonic, had the crowd feeling nice in the early warm up session along with Tony Rebel adding his ode to Jamaica with songs like ‘Sweet Jamaica’, ‘Teach the Children’, and ‘Nazarite Vow’.  No-Maddz – the music and art collective, now a performing duet of Everaldo Creary and Sheldon Shepherd came with their artistic expression – a distinct throwback to early Lee “Scratch” Professor with breadfruit, grater and banana ever present during their set – not to mention the funky shoes worn by Everaldo! Reggae’s creativity, ingenuity and panache are renewed and renewable in these Kingston College alumni.

Jenny Jenny MC and host of her own show on Hitz 92FM emceed the proceedings and kept things moving along quickly. The first treat of the night came with the appearance of Bernard Collins and the iconic Abysinnians with their timeless 1969 classic original Satta Massagana. With the original members recording as solo artists, it was a rare treat to witness the original founders reprising their honey-suckle harmonies on other classics like ‘Forward Back ah Yard”, which sound as sweet today as it did over 40 years ago.

  Special mention MUST be made of the stirring performance of Minister Marion Hall with her undeniably powerful testimony, she reached souls in the huge venue and ministered to a few patrons who were definitely moved and convicted by the power of her annointing. Naysayers keep quiet! Minister Hall is not averse to responding to detractors as one unfortunate heckler found to his cost. Iwayne, Wayne Wonder, Shacka Demus & Pliers, Iba Mahr and Warrior King were also on the bill – but space does not permit indepth commentary – suffice to say they helped to make the first night a definitive hit.  A somewhat sedentary Half Pint, reeled out hit after hit after hit and had the crowd lapping up every note.  It was heartwarming to see this artist back on stage performing after a brief illness.

Rebel Salute was not without some controversy this year with a ‘he-said-she-said’ banter between Tarrus Riley and Anthony B – but all in all the concept of Rebel Salute is still true to its original intent – the preservation of reggae music. Kudos – looking forward to Saturday night.

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