Fri | Aug 18, 2017

New roads to vintage experience - Knutsford Express to provide shuttle to Startime

Published:Friday | June 24, 2016 | 6:15 AM
Michael Barnett
Marcia Griffiths
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It is natural for the combination of vintage and highway to provoke images of classic cars cruising on the tarmac, their age contrasting with not only with other motor vehicles but the modern roadway itself.

However, for the Startime concert at the Juici Patties Verandah in Clarendon on Saturday, July 2, the vintage is the music that will be presented from the stage as Freddie McGregor, Derrick Morgan, Marcia Griffiths and many more. The highways are the modern network that facilitates access to the venue, motorists ending up along Highway 2000.

For this staging of the vintage concert Michael Barnett, who organises the series along with Charles Simms, has partnered with the premiere bus company to provide the option of the Startime Knutsford Shuttle. Coaches will run from Kingston, Ocho Rios, Montego Bay, Falmouth, Savana-la-mar, Negril, Mandeville and Luana and Gutters (both in St Elizabeth) to Startime in Clarendon and back.

It is the first time that this service is being provided and there is some fortunate coincidence involved in the move. “We had explored this before, but the negotiations did not materialise,” Barnett said. “We did not follow through on it. We were not sure what the response would be like.”

However, buoyed by the success of January’s Startime concert at Mas Camp, National Stadium, the organisers believed they had reached a level of crowd support which would generate demand for a coach service to the Clarendon concert. Then, when they contacted Knutsford Express, they realised that inroads had already been made.

“I called Kedon Peterkin, an executive of the company, ion Montego Bay. I put the idea across to him. He told me it was a fabulous idea, as he had some friends who had driven from Montego Bay to the Mas Camp show. They asked why Knutsford Express was not carrying people to the show,” Barnett said.

As the arrangements were fleshed out, it was suggested that the Startime organisers get stick and peel posters advertising the concert to put on Knutsford Express buses running across the country. That was done and for six weeks the mobile advertisements have been on the highways and in major towns that the coach service operates in.

“The response has been encouraging,” Barnett said, adding that advertisements about the service have been running on television and radio.

He has personal experience of how much easier the new highway has made it to reach Clarendon from Kingston. In 2000 a Startime was staged in Clarendon, as part of an islandwide staging of the series following the start in Kingston. “It went very well, but it was hectic on Keith Brown (then a part of organising Startime) and myself. You have to visit the venue five or six times to ensure that things run properly on the night,” he said.

Now, though, visiting Clarendon ahead of Saturday’s concert has been easy, Barnett describing a relaxed drive along the highway which is a vast improvement on 16 years ago.