Tue | Apr 7, 2020

More than a music festival - Rebel Salute ready to set the tone for the next 25 years

Published:Sunday | January 13, 2019 | 12:00 AMKimberley Small
Tony Rebel (right) shares the stage with Winston ‘Yellowman’ Foster, who is billed for this years’ Rebel Salute, at the launch earlier this month.
Rodney Price is billed for this year's festival.

After a quarter of a century, Patrick 'Tony Rebel' Barrett is still intricately involved in organising the hallmark event - Rebel Salute. Held this year under the banner of 'The Preservation of Reggae,' Tony Rebel and the Organic H.E. A. R. T. Group of Companies have developed the event into much more than a reggae music event.

Speaking to The Sunday Gleaner earlier this week, Rebel was occupied with meetings at the St Ann Parish Council, readying the town for the influx of patrons to Grizzly's Plantation Cove on Thursday and Friday (January 17 and 18). Settling in a quiet area, he revealed exactly what is to be expected from this year's signature event and for the next 25 years.

"We need to set the precedent, not just of a show - but a holistic festival, where people come for everything - camaraderie, food, art, entertainment, knowledge of the herbs, reggae music, and culture - and to preserve it more than what UNESCO has said. That is the tone we're setting," he said.


Preservation of Reggae


Last year, the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment, and Sports successfully applied for the musical genre to be added to UNESCO's Registered List of Intangible Cultural Heritage. Tony Rebel and the Organic H.E. A. R. T. Group of Companies say that they have been presenting the genre as tangibly as possible for the past 25 years and intend to continue to do so as long as possible. "We have to do that - to set that tone so that 100 years from now, even if I'm not around, people understand that this is important to our culture, and it must be maintained," he said.

Since its beginnings as a birthday party for the Sweet Jamaica singer, Rebel Salute has grown to become one of the premiere local music festival events. Over two nights, it invites a host of styles and cacophony expressions from the veterans to the newly inducted in the industry. Among the acts scheduled to hit the stage this weekend are Luciano, Dawn Penn, Anu Brian Gold, Capleton, Chuck Fenda, Shalom, Feluke, Bushman, Koffee, Agent Sasco, Half Pint, Yellowman, Dre Island, Turbulence, and Queen Ifrica.


African Invasion


Collating such a line-up is no small feat and a great undertaking. "We brainstorm about who we want, and performers often suggest themselves. Also, people send in who they want to see, then we evaluate and try to see who is available," said Tony Rebel explaining the process of curating the line-up.

One determinedly billed act is Nigerian music star Pantoranking. The festival principal explained that the international singer shares in this indigenous Jamaican cultural presentation. "I was on the road and I saw him perform. A lot of what he does is influenced by Jamaican music. It's good to see that he can be inspired. He incorporates afro beats and reggae, and he makes it work."

Also on the line-up is Ugandan singer-turned-politician Bobi Wine. Known as the 'ghetto president,' the US Foreign Policy magazine listed Wine among the top 100 foreign policy global thinkers of 2018. He features alongside leaders such as the International Monetary Fund's managing director Christine Lagarde. "Jamaicans are not limited as far as their musical diet is concerned. When we look at what they do and how they do it, they can fit into a Jamaican musical experience. It's going to be nice to see the African invasion," Tony Rebel said, adding: "Any African musician will tell you they're inspired by reggae music."

He suggested that there would be even more visitors coming to celebrate the festival. "Look out for a surprise from Africa," he said.




Another addition to the Rebel Salute line-up is Bounty Killer, billed as Rodney Price. In keeping with the wholesome nature of the event, Tony Rebel prefers that the artistes use their given names that as a reminder of the person they were in a classroom, in Sunday school, or at home with their families.

"We use the real name to show that that's the side we want, the side that grew with Mommy, and it's always something to behold. People think they can't manage, but they do it so easily. People can't believe they have that side to them. They are versatile. They can do clean and conscious music, and they love to see that side of themselves. It's good to see them in their spiritual self. People always say it's the best a dem!"