Salute with a symposium - Two nights of music, afternoon of marijuana education
Rebel Salute 2016 takes place at Grizzly's Plantation Cove, Priory, St Ann, on Friday, January 15 and Saturday, January 16. Subtitled The Preservation of Reggae, as have a number of previous stagings, it presents two nights of extensive line-ups spanning an extensive section of Jamaican popular music history.
However, while the nights (the first of which on Friday, dubbed Singers' Paradise, celebrates the birthday of festival founder Tony Rebel) are dedicated to music interspersed with the expected conversations between performer and audience, Saturday afternoon will be dedicated to talk. It will not be idle chatter, as from about 2 p.m. until the closing night begins, there will be a symposium on marijuana at a designated area of the venue dubbed Herb Curb.
Among Friday night's performers are Tony Rebel, Michael Rose, Sanchez, Luciano, LUST, Richie Spice, The Congos, Tony Gregory, Yvad, Christopher Martin, Tanto Metro and Devonte, Kabaka Pyramid, Louie Culture, Kelissa, Everton Blender, Pluto Shervington and Ernie Smith, Jahmali, Gem Myers, Jah Mason, Kelissa and Chezidek.
Saturday's line-up include Beres Hammond, David Brooks (aka Mavado), Ken Boothe, Junior Reid, Juju Reid, Queen Ifrica, Half Pint, The Abyssinians, featuring Bernard Collins, I-Octane, Turbulence, Pinchers, Macka B, Eric Donaldson, Uprising Roots Band, The Viceroys, Michigan, Andrew Tosh, Pablo Moses, Ray Darwin, dMEDZ, Davianah and Anthony Cruz.
At the Herb Curb, various issues around marijuana, including its use as a sacrament, Jamaica's changing legislation and various products which can be made from it (some of which will be on display) will be discussed.
Rebel Salute expanded to two days in 2013, when it was moved to St Ann from the Port Kaiser Sports Club in St Elizabeth. From the outset, there has been a concentration on making both nights equally strong, rather than Friday being a precursor to Saturday and, looking back at last year's staging, Rebel told The Sunday Gleaner, "It was a huge night." That was no only because of the line-up (which included himself, Third World, Jesse Royal, Capleton, Bugle, Etana, Jah 9, Iba Mahr and Tarrus Riley), but he also said "There was an increase in terms of numbers."
"The first one was good, 2013. It fell down in 2014, I think because of the rain because we had Junior Gong... We go hard with Friday night so when you come you don't go home, you stay for the next night. The Friday night is we new baby and we working on it assiduously to make sure it stands out. And that is why this year we have the Singers Paradise," Rebel said.
Inner Circle (who brought on Chronixx), Sizzla, Raging Fyah Cocoa Tea and Freddie McGregor were among last year's Saturday night's performers, and Tony Rebel looks back at coverage of the event in Vogue with pride. There is also strong international press interest in this year's staging, and Rebel said there is "a lot of new media from all over the world". This is in addition to the regular overseas media persons, who attend Rebel Salute regularly.
"It increase a whole lot. I guess maybe we went to Fort Lauderdale (USA) and did a nice launch there also, and people see us in Vogue too," Rebel said.
The impact of previous stagings was literally seen. "Everywhere we went we saw people with Rebel Salute shirts or Rebel Salute hats or something from Rebel Salute, showing us that they were there and they are coming," Tony Rebel said.
At the Jamaican launch of Rebel Salute 2016, held at the Marriott Courtyard, New Kingston, last month, in his guest speaker address, Justice Minister Senator Mark Golding noted the increase in the number of overseas visitors the festival attracts. He said a Jamaica Tourist Board survey showed 35 per cent of the audience was from overseas, most of them visiting the island specifically for Rebel Salute. A number of those foreign 'Saluters' were from markets outside of the United States, especially Europe.
Additionally, from the high number of repeat visitors, 78 per cent of the persons surveyed said the Rebel Salute festival had improved. Of those, 98 per cent were foreigners and 97 per cent locals.
Golding also announced a marijuana exemption for Rebel Salute, which is what makes Saturday's Herb Curb possible. "The Herb Curb is actually a venue within the venue," Tony Rebel said. "It is at the most beautiful part of the venue, where the backdrop is the sea and there is a man-made beach there like a cove." That beach is one of the improvements made by the facility's operators to Grizzly's Plantation Cove.
There will be "forums to talk about weed and display things. We want to make sure that we do the sacramental part of it, because we get the exemption because of Rasta. So we want people to understand more how Rasta deal with it as a sacrament. We also want to deal with the scientific part of it, we want to talk about it, because from the scientific part of it people will understand the different components, how you use it, extract these different components, what is harmful, what is good for you. From that we can get the medicinal and the therapeutic. We want to show you can have economic benefits also, and show people better ways how to deal with it recreationally."