High hopes for strong Salute turnout
2015 staging begins tonight in St Ann
Mel Cooke, Gleaner Writer
Rebel Salute 2015 begins this evening at Grizzly's Plantation Cove, Priory, St Ann, and media and communications officer for the organisers, Maxsalia Salmon, sums up one of the organisers' main objectives.
"We want a sold-out crowd, and in turn, we will be offering the best entertainment and cultural experience," Salmon told The Gleaner.
"At the end, we really want the patrons to have had two nights of great entertainment and exposure to authentic Jamaican culture."
The two-day festival, which has a no meat, alcohol or weapons policy, operates under the tagline, 'The Preservation of Reggae'. Those charged with maintaining that stance as they perform tonight include Third World, Israel Vibrations, Capleton, I-Wayne, Etana, Jesse Royal, Iba Mahr, Junior Kelly, Alborosie, Bugle, Kabaka Pyramid, Tarrus Riley and Norris Man.
Tomorrow night Sizzla, Queen Ifrica, Luciano, Sizzla, Cocoa Tea, Inner Circle (which will pay homage to their former lead singer, Jacob Miller), Richie Spice, Freddie McGregor, Fantan Mojah, Papa Levi, Raging Fyah and Cornell Campbell are some of those slated to perform.
Last year, there was substantial rain on the first day, Salmon recalled, "and some people were deterred ... . We are hoping Rebel Salute is an event that is a must-go and we are determined to put on a good show in any weather conditions".
Part of this drive is improving the production, Salmon said the organisers listen to patrons, and each year on the stage or the grounds, something is done better.
A significant departure from the norm by the festival is presenting persons who may not be current chart-toppers or even well-known by younger persons, but who deliver themselves well. Among the persons of that ilk this year are Papa Levi (of Mi God, Mi King fame) and the original Gorgon, Cornel Campbell.
Salmon attributes the choices to Tony Rebel, whose birthday the festival celebrates, and Ryan Bailey.
"They are able to have a feel for that, for someone of my generation might not have heard of before, but we know the music," she said.
"Some promoters are not necessarily artistes themselves, and I think that is what gives us the edge."
"He (Tony Rebel) has always been able to put together that mix of young talent and older entertainers that works."
Both nights have strong artiste rosters, and Salmon pointed out that equal effort is put into Friday and Saturday. "Rebel Salute is about going hard. If we are going to do it, we are presenting the best," Salmon said. Taking that approach Friday has seen big names onstage from the get go, when Beres Hammond was presented on day one.
"In expanding (from a single-night format), we were cognisant that we have to do it with the quality that people expect. If people are going to come out, it has to be quality," Salmon said.
There is also a matter of diversity. Last year, Stitchie, a Christian deejay, performed on what has long been an event with a strong Rastafarian presence on stage and in the audience. This year, Prodi, who was established as a gospel artiste but is now in a more secular mode, will perform tomorrow night.
Salmon explained, "Rebel Salute tries to cater to lovers of Jamaican music, so people hear the best of what Jamaica has to showcase musically ... . We want families to come out. Whether they are Christians or not, we want them to feel there is a festival that caters to the entire family, so there should be someone on the line-up each person can relate to."
All the elements add up to building the audience. "We would really want to know we have as many persons as possible. What we want is a good turnout, for people to come out and experience the festival," Salmon said.
"We want to see a sea of persons."