Reggae Night rocked at Jazz & Blues 2015
Karrie Williams, Gleaner Writer
Sweet reggae music filled the Trelawny Multi-purpose Stadium on Thursday's opening night of the 2015 staging of the Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival, which was dubbed a tribute to late reggae icon John Holt.
Despite a low turn-out of patrons, the festival got off to a brilliant start with the majority of performers, who were backed by Lloyd Parks and We The People Band, connecting with the audience in a series of awe-inspiring sets.
Perhaps the threat of a cold front was responsible for persons staying away from the festival's opening night, but it is fair to say that those who braved the nippy temperatures, appropriately dressed in sweaters and scarfs, would not have left the venue with an overall feeling of disappointment.
The night truly belonged to Holt, who was repeatedly honoured by the artistes doing renditions of his songs throughout their performances.
Organisers of the festival went a step further and awarded Holt's son, Brian Holt, with a plaque recognising his father's contribution to reggae, both locally and internationally. Holt also sang a number of his father's greatest hits, including Love I Can Feel and Be Careful.
A moment of silence for the late reggae icon.
Veteran dancehall artiste Josey Wales was the night's undisputed favourite. Arriving on stage just after midnight, the '80s deejay gave a stellar performance.
Opening with his favoured hit, Undercover Lover, Wales had patrons swooning over him from the get-go. The prolific artiste added more excitement to his performance by entertaining patrons with comedic commentary on issues surrounding proper hygiene and intimate relationships. He had everyone cheering and in stitches when he performed his newest single, Matey Life, a song in which he reflected on the fallout between dancehall stars Beenie Man and Bounty Killer.
After completing his end of his set, Wales returned for an encore, by popular demand from the audience. He graciously obliged with his hit single Wrong Move, evoking more cheers from concert goers.
Songstress Judy Mowatt also gave a stellar performance, which saw her delighting patrons with not only her songs, but also her iconic dance moves. Close to the end of her set, Mowatt covered the Holt classic The Tide is High.
Performing trio The Tamlins was also remarkable, thrilling audience members with a series of their evergreen hits, dating back to the '70s. Singers George Nooks, Errol Dunkley, and Cornell Campbell were also impressive. Nooks, in particular, was quite successful in getting audience members to dance in unison to his hit songs, including God is Standing By.
Veteran singer Johnny Clarke was the night's penultimate act, and despite not being advertised for the show, he was well received by patrons as he rendered a brilliant medley of his most popular songs. Midway through his performance, the singer removed his hat, revealing his almost ankle-length dreadlocks, resulting in audible ahhs from the audience.
Whereas reggae artistes gave all-round solid performances, the same cannot be said for the night's closing act, Trinidadian soca star Oscar B. In fact, he was, perhaps, the only noticeable disappointment of the night as notwithstanding the predominantly mature audience, the artiste dominated his performance with a series of lesser known songs with which many patrons seemed not to be familiar. Needless to say, they were not his best recordings to date.
Prior to the start of his performance, some patrons began leaving the venue, but during his performance, they exited in droves, leaving Oscar B and his band to perform to mostly empty chairs which occupied the VIP area, which accounted for majority of the night's attendees.
Nevertheless, the artiste appeared to have fun performing and he redeemed himself right at the very end with the celebrated dance songs Butterfly and Soca Tattee.