Wed | Jan 27, 2021

Surprise a key element of Rebel Salute 2021 Festival this weekend

Published:Thursday | January 14, 2021 | 12:12 AMStephanie Lyew /Gleaner Writer
The crowd brave the heavy rains to see their favourite reggae artiste at Rebel Salute 2020.
The crowd brave the heavy rains to see their favourite reggae artiste at Rebel Salute 2020.
Dynamq sound system selector  in action at last year’s Rebel Salute.
Dynamq sound system selector in action at last year’s Rebel Salute.
Tony Rebel performs at rebel Salute 2020.
Tony Rebel performs at rebel Salute 2020.
Queen I-Africa rocks the stage at Rebel Salute 2020.
Queen I-Africa rocks the stage at Rebel Salute 2020.
Chronic Law sizzles at Rebel Salute.
Chronic Law sizzles at Rebel Salute.

Reggae festival Rebel Salute which utilises the tagline ‘The Preservation of Reggae’ has taken secrecy to the next level and opted not to reveal its line-up before it goes live, virtually, this weekend. With the expectations high, the rebellious visionary Tony Rebel looks to be celebrating its 28th anniversary amongst nature – a little differently this time, he said, “as it will be outdoors, amongst nature, but not by the sea as it has been done over the years.”

On the matter of live performances, the 0 singer explained, “Surprise is a key element of the festival experience, and with the fully virtual execution, we are not building up expectations with announcing the names of the acts featured. The ‘saluters’ have trusted us for 27 years, and for the 28th year we want to show them they can still trust us when we deliver a show they will be fascinated about.”

Tony Rebel, who takes on the role as one of the show’s host, pointed out that Rebel Salute has been packaged as a docuseries and live show, which will be aired on TVJ from 9:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. on Friday, January 15, and from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Saturday, January 16. He said, “What they will see on television is part of the complete package, we want persons to tune in – please watch – some of the footage for the docuseries, which, as I mentioned before, is over 400 hours, and 2020 gave us some time to look at all that goes into the festival. Now that we have packaged that part of it, I believe it is going to be great, just how we set it – it has cost us, but we are giving it as a gift to show our gratitude for the support over the years.”

The Show’s Genesis

Rebel Salute began in Manchester at Fayor’s Entertainment Centre in 1993, then Brook’s Park, and continued on the south coast in Port Kaiser, St Elizabeth, and As of 2013, the two-day event has been held at the Richmond Estate in Priory, St Ann. It has featured some of reggae’s pioneers, from the likes of the late great Garnett Silk, Toots Hibbert, Joseph Hill and Bob Andy; as well as acts who continue to carry the reggae torch high, such as Beres Hammond, Capleton, Sizzla, Marcia Griffiths, Etana and Queen Ifrica

Though not the first thing on the list, Tony Rebel hesitantly shared that he would be giving a special performance of new music like the latest Penthouse Production, I Wonder. “Mi just nuh want to talk about the performances,” the festival’s frontman said with a laugh, as he added, “but yes, I have something special up my sleeve as I prepare to perform my new song, which is on a riddim that also features Marcia Griffiths and Beres Hammond.”

Jahyudah Barrett, daughter of the veteran artiste and one of the festival’s directors, noted that, “A lot of work has gone into the fully virtual production; despite thinking initially that it would be easier when we were deciding how to present the festival, it is not, actually.”

By this time, the Rebel Salute team would be navigating the transport of equipment to the venue for the set-up, finalising discussions with suppliers, and there would be a lot more activity, she said. Now, all that energy is being used to make sure everything is top-notch for persons who will be watching the televised portion versus those streaming the full festival via, YouTube and Facebook.

“Everybody is looking to see what we’re doing, and it sort off means more pressure is there as our saluters anticipate how we will represent virtually what would be seen in the physical space,” Jahyudah expressed.

She added, “The marketplace is one feature of the festival that will be missed, but we have managed to include a few vendors like Itopia Life, which are major sponsors of the Herb Curb. Usually, patrons could explore the physical set-up, but the virtual staging is limited; but we want our vendors to remain optimistic.”

Tony Rebel chimed in again, sending a moving message to vendors and supporters. that “The pandemic is not anything we created ourselves, but we have to find how to manage together. So, to our vendors, we wish them to be safe and in good health, to get through this difficult time, because nothing lasts forever and it will end. But certainly, when it ends, we must be ready to take on the new challenges.”