Trench Town struggles, reggae shines

Published: Sunday | February 17, 2013 Comments 0
A section of Culture Yard in Trench Town. The building in the background is where Bob Marley wrote some of his most famous songs, while the old Volkswagen to the right of the building was owned by the late reggae superstar. - Colin Hamilton/Freelance Photographer
A section of Culture Yard in Trench Town. The building in the background is where Bob Marley wrote some of his most famous songs, while the old Volkswagen to the right of the building was owned by the late reggae superstar. - Colin Hamilton/Freelance Photographer
Reggae legend Bob Marley
Reggae legend Bob Marley

Curtis Campbell, Gleaner Writer

The Jamaica Reggae Industry Association's Trench Town Festival, hosted at the Vin Lawrence Park in Trench Town, was an event which gave a vivid display of some of the best talent that Jamaica has to offer.

However, it also showed that little has changed about the inner-city community, despite the fact that some of the world's most celebrated artistes hail from the area.

On entrance to the community, the streets were lined with youths, predominantly young boys who traded cash for watching parked cars.

"Gimme $250 and wi secure yu cyar sar," one of them said as I attempted to park and enter the venue.

The venue also reflected signs of poverty. Even the soil was loose, resulting in dust flying everywhere. Getting into the show was quite an uncomfortable task, as numerous patrons stood on the outskirts hopeless, while others tried to force their way into the venue through a very small and tacky replica of a gate. Inside was like a dust cage bearing well-lit Digicel signs and other sponsors.

The 'dust cage' separated patrons from the main stage area via a tattered wire fence, while the railings on each side of the venue, was like the scene of a rural nine night, created using bamboo and tarpaulins.

'Chicken in the air'

The air smelt of chicken mixed with the food being sold by numerous vendors, both inside and outside the venue.

So pervasive was the smell that the emcee had to ask jerk vendors to move their pans because the smoke was affecting the proceedings.

With all this tackiness surrounding the event, one couldn't help but wonder where are the solid investments made in Trench Town? How can the so-called world's 'Culture Yard' located in the Creative City of Jamaica, be without a well-designed entertainment venue, with adequate parking and staff?

Shouldn't the community which helped to mould Bob Marley into a worldwide superstar have at least a state-of-the-art entertainment centre?

The event started later than planned, however, Japanese and European fans were out early. They got the rare opportunity to see The Abyssinians performing Satta Massagana live, as well as Bobby Clark from the Meditations singing Babylon Trap Dem.

Surinamese reggae artiste Miriam Simone came to make her debut performance on Bob Marley's home soil, literally. And she did so creditably, singing You Purify My Soul.

She was followed by Living Culture reggae band, and they sang One More River. They were noticeably skillful where harmony was concerned.

Garnet Silk's cousin, Nikki Silk, sounding like the great reggae artiste, followed and had patrons begging for more of the late singer's material.

Other artistes who did well on the night include Izrel who sang the popular Pack Up Yu Things.

Grung Fire, The Heptones, and History Man also gave decent sets. History Man delivered a song called Bob Marley Story, which allegedly reveals the full story of Bob Marley's life from birth to his development as an internationally renowned artiste. The audience was impressed and gave him an encore to show its approval.

International reggae band Rootz Underground was also present. They told The Sunday Gleaner that Bob Marley had been a big inspiration. the band's lead singer also disclosed that this year marks the third time the group was performing at the event and that it has always been a pleasure.

Trench Town Festival included world-class performances, however, the logistics are far from that mark.

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