How Plug 'N' Play assesses performers
Hasani Walters, Gleaner Writer
In recent years, live music has had a resurgence in popularity on the Jamaican music scene. This can be somewhat attributed to the start-up of various live music events, such as Smokin Jacket, Plug 'N' Play and Jamnesia.
This rise has also managed to shine light on a few previously overlooked entertainers, as well as the young, talented Protojé, who recently launched his debut album, 7 Year Itch.
Promoters have their criteria for selecting the artistes who perform at the live shows. Princess Ellis of 2 Wild Entertainment, one of the organisers of Plug 'N' Play, which is held at the Jonkanoo Lounge, The Wyndham Kingston hotel, New Kingston, explained the process to The Gleaner.
Ellis said that in choosing an artiste to grace the Plug 'N' Play stage, those who already have bands and those who have had the experience of playing with a band are naturally those who first come to mind.
An artiste who has a strong fan base is also among those who are considered. She noted, however, that the artiste may not be the most popular one around but has a strong following and the power to pull a crowd. She gave the four-member dub poetry group No-Maddz as an example of an act with a strong following.
Artistes who have already established a name for themselves in music genres such as lover's rock, jazz and soul are also considered, and their comfort level with live music is carefully checked. Those artistes with impressive stage presence - meaning that while they are onstage they can communicate well with their audience and be intimate with fans throughout their performance - are also considered.
"We really look in-depth at each artiste before we go ahead and make our selections," said Ellis.
Among the many entertainers who have performed at Plug 'N' Play are Max Romeo, Toots Hibbert, Capleton, Nambo Robinson, KipRich and the latest, Chanti-I and Gyptian, who performed last week.
Ellis noted, however, that during live shows, artistes always tend to give excellent performances. "Persons who you wouldn't expect to perform as such on a live stage have done wonderful performances," she said.
KipRich's performance was so good that patrons made requests for him to return to the venue for another showing. She said some people even see artistes in a new light because of their performance with the live instruments. "They bring off a different vibe from dancehall. It's a slower, more intimate type of vibe. Artistes can also do songs full-length and give their full repertoire," she said.
With Plug 'N' Play, Ellis' main goal is to help in building the Jamaican live music scene and for the event to ultimately become a household name.
"We want to make it an event that you can look forward to so that we can have a full house every week - not just for the artiste booked but to hear the great music that's in store," she said.
Ellis' 2 Wild Entertainment works alongside Di Kru Productions and Steppin Razor Productions in organising Plug 'N' Play.