Tag team tribute at awards show
There were many words about the awardees at Saturday's Tribute to the Greats 18, held at the Chinese Benevolent Association, Hope Road, St Andrew. As moving as the citations, read by Norma Brown, were, it was the musical tributes - including performances by awardees Pam Hall, Dandy Livingstone, Barrington Biggs and Winston Francis - which got the audience moving to varying degrees.
This was despite a less-than-stellar sound quality, the Rhythm Masters Band providing good support for the performers at an event which honoured the British Connection of Jamaican popular music.
Hall got the performances going with Perfidia, congratulating Tribute to the Greats organiser Kingsley Goodison on his efforts to "catalogue a great part of our cultural history, which should be taught in schools. But, in the meantime, Kingsley is doing a good job".
Hall revisited a period in the mid-1980s when a number of Jamaican performers including herself, her sister Audrey Hall, Bloodfire Posse, Sophia George and Boris Gardiner, were on the British charts. From there, it was on to ska, Wings of a Dove and Amen included in the medley.
The tribute to the connection began in earnest after that, Case coming on stage to sing Jimmy Cliff's Wonderful World, Beautiful People. The exchanges between Hall and Case were smooth, an already lively Case shifting into full dancer's mode as Hall did Mille Small's My Boy Lollipop. Enhancing the audiovisual
experience were images of the performers on a screen to the side of the stage.
Case took over for Double Barrel, having an extended singing stint with Patricia and Jackie Edwards' Tell Me Darling. Hall returned for Grace Jones' My Jamaican Guy and the tag team continued, Case doing Laurel Aitkens' Boogie in My Bones and Hall rocking the audience with Althea and Donna's Uptown Top Ranking.
The British Connection was made strong with homage to Maxi Priest (Wild World, Close to You), Case and Hall joining voices to do Marcia Griffiths and Bob Andy's take on Young, Gifted and Black.
Livingstone did a single song, the audience applauding when he said it had been written 48 years ago. "It has been good to me," Livingstone said of the song, an uptempo number, Rudy, A Message To You, which advised "stop the running around".
Barry Biggs' falsetto was a hit, his opening, Just My Imagination, given the compliment of audience, eruption, interruption and a restart. A smiling Biggs did Sincerely and Wide Awake in a Dream to an impressed audience and he closed with what he described as his biggest hit in England, a remake of Sideshow.
Winston Francis jogged out on stage, twirled with a white towel held high, was off to a good start with, Fools Fall in Love, and kept the momentum going to the end. He gave some background to a few of the songs, including the ballad, Extra Careful (for which he changed his name to Billy Cole, and many thought it was an American track). He also spoke about Dennis Brown covering one of his songs and, returning the compliment, did Here I Come.
For this one, Francis moved from the stage into the audience, urging people to sing (including trying repeatedly with Junior Lincoln, unsuccessfully) and returning to the stage to end with the audience's applause.
Francis spoke about his touring experiences, including performing in Israel and seeing an Israeli drink from a bottle and pass it to a Palestinian, who in turn handed the Israeli a spliff. He asked if it was always like that and was told, "no, only when reggae music is being played we are friends."
Francis also related being in Argentina performing to 60,000 people, not many of whom spoke English but sang the songs word for word.
Francis ended his solo stint with Mr Fix It, then did Three Little Birds - again working his way through the audience - before being joined by Hall, Livingstone and Case, to bring the audience to its feet and the performances to an end with Three Little Birds, before Merritone took over the night, playing The Cables' Baby Why.