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Moderate success for Reggae Month activities

Published:Sunday | March 6, 2011 | 12:00 AM
Sly Dunbar (left) and Robbie Shakespare.
Bob Andy

Sadeke Brooks, Staff Reporter

Without much support from corporate Jamaica, February's Reggae Month celebration is being described as a moderate success.

Joan Webley, chairperson for JaRIA's Constitution, Advocacy, Lobbying and Membership (CALM) Committee (the group spearheading the 'Preserve The Music' campaign), said the activities for the month were achieved but the celebration could have been better.

"It's a moderate success. We were able to achieve everything that we set out to achieve but we think it could have been greater had we gotten more support from corporate Jamaica. If we were able to get a better buy-in we could have achieved more," Webley told The Sunday Gleaner.

Charles Campbell, chairperson of the Reggae Month Committee, (RMC) in his report shared similar sentiments.

"Reggae Month 2011 in Jamaica was a modest success by the sheer will and determination of the RMC, coupled with significant, voluntary contributions of many of our artistes, musicians, equipment suppliers and other industry professionals. All the activities organised by JaRIA met their objectives, from an organisational and attendance perspective," he said.

While the support could have been better, Webley said JaRIA is grateful for the support received from entities like Red Stripe, JAMPRO, Culture Clothing, Ministry of Culture, Jamaica Tourist Board and Chase Fund.

Nonetheless, Webley said there were mostly high points. She lauded the Reggae Night series, which was held at Edna Manley College on Wednesdays, and described it as exciting and entertaining. The performers tackled several genres like ska, reggae, dancehall, rocksteady, gospel, dub poetry and alternative. The event saw standout performances from the likes of Barrington Levy, Coco Tea, Big Youth, Sly and Robbie, Dubtonic Kru, Bob Andy, Blue Grass, Downstairs, From The Deep, Michael Harris, Blaze, Sizzla, Clifton Black, Mercedez, Queen Ifrica, Jolly Boys, Grace Thrillers, Carlene Davis, Tommy Cowan, Nomaddz and Namby.

The honour awards is also of note as Lloyd Parkes got the 'Lifetime Achievement Award' and airline tickets from Red Stripe to visit his mother in England. There was also the Dennis Brown concert that was held in downtown Kingston which got a lot of support.

She said support was also high for the other events held during the month by other groups. Some of these events were the Jamauca Cultural Development Commission Symposium, Trench Town Festival, Fi Wi Sinting, IRIE FM Tribute to Peter Tosh, 19th Annual Bob Marley Birthday Bash and Jamaica Association of Vintage Artistes and Affiliates' tribute to the King, Crown Prince and Cool Ruler.

With over 9,000 signatures, Webley said the 'Preserve The Music' campaign highlighted the rallying and lobbying aspect of the month's celebration that was not present in previous years.

In his report, Campbell said, "This campaign, which will continue past reggae month, marks the intensification of JaRIA's efforts to advocate on behalf of the industry tackling issues which affect the full spectrum of our participants."

In the campaign, JaRIA is lobbying for the updating of the Noise Abatement Act, for radio stations to implement playlists for their disc jocks, and issues relating to payola in the industry, among other things.

For the most part, Webley said the month was a positive one and there were few low points.

"There were the usual production challenges but it was an incident free month. The vibe was beautiful at all times," she said.

And, she said, she believes this year is an improvement over previous years.

"We think that it's continuing with the trend of getting bigger and better," she told The Sunday Gleaner.

Moving forward, she said she hopes Reggae Month improves. She said plans are already underway to start campaigning for the month by as early as summer. She said JaRIA wants to stage even bigger events, host more events around the island and strengthen events put on by other entities that are endorsed by JaRIA.

"For next year, it's going to be a much more sustained and prolonged campaigning. We want to ensure that everybody knows it's Reggae Month," Webley said.