Stellar line-up for Startime: The final chapter
It will be like the end of an era when the popular vintage stage show Startime, formerly Heineken Startime, takes a bow after more than 150 performances spanning 30 years.
Coming from very humble beginnings as a small after-work jam in the old Spanish Town Bar at the now defunct Oceana Hotel in downtown Kingston on June 30, 1988, the show outgrew several venues on its way to becoming an internationally renowned concert. In the process, it became the catalyst for the resurgence of several artistes and, most significantly, contributed to the preservation of Jamaica's music heritage.
This final chapter, appropriately billed The Original Startime: Final Chapter, takes place at the Mass Camp Stadium Complex on Saturday, May 5. Boasting the best line-up that has ever graced a Startime stage, the show promises to be a never-to-be-forgotten experience worth travelling miles to see. It would take a very brave man with musical inclinations to entertain thoughts of missing this spectacle.
A look at the line-up tells the story: Marcia Griffiths, Sanchez, Leroy Sibbles, U Roy, Horace Andy, Ernie Smith, Boris Gardiner, Cornel Campbell, Lloyd Parkes and We the People Band, and young singing sensation Xylophone.
Marcia Griffiths needs no introduction. She is the undisputed queen of reggae who has given us gems like Mark My Word, Truly, Dreamland, Electric Boogie, Stepping Out Of Babylon, in addition to duets with Bob Andy (Young Gifted and Black), Jeff Dixon (Words), Da'ville (All My Life) and Beres Hammond (Live On), among so many others.
Sanchez is making his debut on the show, fulfilling the wish of a myriad of fans. Beginning with his monster hits Lonely Won't Leave Me Alone and Lady In Red, he followed up with Old Friends, Fall In Love, Missing You Now and others from the mid-1980s onwards.
Earning a reputation as one of Jamaica's most soulful lead singers during the rocksteady era with his group The Heptones, Leroy Sibbles sang lead on the immortal gems Fatty Fatty, Party Time, Baby Be True, I Shall Be Released, Ting A Ling and Sea Of Love. You can bet your last devalued dollar that Sibbles will unleash some of these on Saturday.
The undisputed king of rapping and toasting, U Roy, has remained at the top of the pack as a DJ since he burst on the scene at Duke Reid's Treasure Isle Studios in 1970 with Wear You To The Ball, Wake The Town, Rule The Nation, Versions Galore and more. No doubt, he will have these in his armoury.
Horace Andy, with one of the most unusual and distinctive voices in reggae, has the classics Skylarking, Fever, Just Say Who, Girl A Love You, See A Man's Face and Lonely Woman - all chart-toppers during the 1970s.
Ernie Smith, with his record-breaking Life Is Just For Living (originally made for a beer commercial), which won first prize at a 1972 music festival in Japan, Pitta Patta, One Dream, Ride On Sammy, Duppy Gunman, Bend Down and others, will be sure to command great attention as he continues to prove that age is just a number, while Boris Gardiner, who boast a similar baritone, will prove to fans that he is numbered among the smoothest vocalists this nation has produced.
Yet, it is virtually impossible for anyone to match the vocal talent of Cornel Campbell, who, in my book, is numbered in the top three that the nation has produced in popular music. If I had lingering thoughts about not attending the show, Cornel would force me to. Queen Of the Minstrel and Stars speaks volumes about the quality of this man's voice.
Lloyd Parks and We The People Band, who will provide the backing, perhaps has no equal for shows like these. Xylophone may seem the least of the apostles, but wait until you hear the vocal talent of this 12-year-old girl.