Sat | Aug 18, 2018

Glorious expectations of the expected at Startime

Published:Thursday | January 7, 2016 | 12:00 AMMel Cooke
Marcia Griffiths
Johnny Clarke in action.
Leroy Sibbles

It is very unlikely that anyone who attends the 'One Night Only' staging of the Original Startime at the Mas Camp, National Stadium, on Saturday night is going to hear a new song. And, overwhelmingly, chances are that is just how they like it.

Startime - in its current original form, or over the years, through whatever title sponsor has had its name attached to the vintage music live performance brand - is testament to the value of a catalogue and the longevity of music made by those who will be presenting from that catalogue to an audience which is familiar with it.

So this Saturday night, we know that Marcia Griffiths is going to go Dreamland, Horace Andy is going to perform Skylarking, Frankie Paul's set will include Kushumpeng, Errol Dunkley's Black Cinderella, and Leroy Sibbles, Johnny Clarke, Mighty Diamonds and Dillinger will also all deliver their standards. The band, Lloyd Parkes and We The People, will also be very familiar with the music.

It is virtually guaranteed to add up to a very good time for all, which is the way it should be. For Startime is not only a guarantee of musical quality, but also a gateway to memories. It is also a reflection of the power of radio at a time in our history when there were two radio stations, JBC and RJR.

I went to my first Startime in the early 2000s and knew almost all the songs performed, even though most of them were made before I was 10 years old. I had heard them on Sunday programmes, especially.


Going to Startime between 2001 and about 2006/2007 made the music real in flesh.

This is not the first Startime return. In 2013, there were two shows after a long break. The line-up for the first, at the Liguanea Club, New Kingston, was John Holt, Marcia Griffiths, Johnny Clarke, Ken Boothe, The Mighty Diamonds, George Nooks, Big Youth and Derrick Morgan. I did not attend that one, but went to the second at Mas Camp later that year, where I saw John Holt, for the last of many times, putting on a fantastic show.

Among the others I have seen on a Startime stage who are no longer with us are Alton Ellis, Gregory Isaacs, Joseph 'Culture' Hill (I think) and Brent Dowe (Dennis Brown died two years before I went to a Startime). Not to be macabre, but it is inevitable that the roster of stars will dwindle over time. I would not say, "Go see them now, because you never know", but I would say, "Go and show them your appreciation for their music while they can appreciate it personally".

However, sponsorship support for events like Startime, which honour a particular period in Jamaican music history, has shrunk over time, as those with the dollars ignore the spending power of the 'big people' audience and go for the frenzy of youth. It is a shame. A new rum sponsor is with Startime, among a roster of others that was announced when this event was officially launched some weeks ago, and respect to them.

And there is another Startime guarantee which I deeply appreciate. It starts on time.