Sun | Dec 16, 2018

Enjoyment right up to 2 a.m.

Published:Saturday | May 20, 2017 | 12:00 AMMel Cooke
Part of the crowd at the second Jack Ruby Festival: The Black Experience on Friday night in Ocho Rios, St Ann.
Dancer Shelly Belly gets down low behind deejay Pamputae at Dutty Fridays at Fletcher’s Land, Kingston.

I was impressed by the discipline that was displayed at the second Jack Ruby Festival, which was held on James Avenue, Ocho Rios, St Ann, last Friday. Before the event (to celebrate the life and work of Lawrence 'Jack Ruby' Lindo, who operated the sound system named after him and who produced the Burning Spear albums Man in the Hills and Marcus Garvey), the print advertisements said that the event would run from 6 a.m. to 2 a.m.

And it did. This may have had something to do with the event being organised by the radio station IRIE FM and much of the content being broadcast live. However, it does not negate the fact that the event was run to a schedule and ended at the legally stipulated cut-off time. When Black Scorpio played Jimmy Cliff's Many Rivers To Cross and said goodbye, people walked away from what I found to be a very satisfying tribute event, and that was that.

The street was full - actually, corked would be a better way to sum up how many people were on James Avenue for the free event. When time was up, there were no murmurs about wanting more time.

It was the end of a 20-hour celebration, most of the audience gathering in the after-work period. Still, approximately

7 p.m. to 2 a.m. is still seven solid hours of entertainment. In that time, there were a number of performances by persons like Brigadier Jerry and Ikaya, then from 10 p.m. onwards, there were one-hour sets of recorded music by Talia Powers (who was especially superb); Mutabaruka; King Jammy's; and Black Scorpio (Capleton and Junior Reid performed during Scorpio's stint).

I compared this with other sound system event experiences, where people turned up at about the time when the Jack Ruby Festival ended and partied for a couple of hours. An extreme example is the now defunct Dutty Fridaze in Fletcher's Land, Kingston, which peaked in the daylight hours of Saturday.

One of the differences between the events is the Jamaican popular music, which the selectors focused on. The Jack Ruby Festival was largely roots reggae - when Powers played the version of Luciano's Sweep Over My Soul, the people loved it. At Dutty Fridaze, and several other events which I attended, dancehall was the flavour of the short period of fun.

So maybe the frenetic energy which the up-tempo dancehall music that is played for a short time is different from the steady energy of rockers music, which can go on for a much longer period. So the question is this: how come there is a hue and cry over two or three hours of partying going beyond the Noise Abatement Act's shut-down time when the event could easily start at midnight and end at 2 a.m.?

As we look towards the amended Noise Abatement Act, it is something to consider.