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Consistent Extravaganza setting

Published:Friday | December 2, 2016 | 12:00 AMMel Cooke
Freddie McGregor

The venue has been changed from the accustomed Independence Park in Black River, but the Boom GT Taylor Extravaganza is staying in St Elizabeth for its 2016 staging on Christmas Day.

Radio personality, sound system owner and emcee GT Taylor told The Sunday Gleaner that despite a switch in location, he is making an effort to keep the atmosphere consistent - an important consideration in what is positioned as a family event.

GT Taylor Extravaganza 2016 will be held at the Luana Sports Complex, which the event's organiser describes as "a huge venue. It can hold 20,000 people. Everything is in place. If I did not know it would take the show I would not take it there."


Recreating the experience


Despite the change, Taylor is determined to recreate some elements of the Independence Park experience. "We are fitting it to Extravaganza. After 15 years, we have a standard to maintain," he said. Logistically, the movement is not that extreme, as Taylor said the Luana Sports Complex is about five minutes away from Independence Park.

The shift has been caused by another event being staged at Independence Park within the time frame needed to prepare the ground for Extravaganza, Taylor saying that he needs at least four to five clear days in the venue to be show ready. Taking advantage of the ample time at Luana, Taylor said there will be additional elements such as mechanical bulls.

It is intended to enhance the atmosphere at an event which he said people use as a "meet-and-greet. After Christmas dinner that is where they head."

Making it easier to get there, a shuttle service will be provided from Kingston, Mandeville, Santa Cruz and Black River. For those who drive, there will be limited parking inside the venue, as well as free parking very close by.


Major draws


Among the major draws Taylor is hoping will attract people to the venue are Freddie McGregor, Sizzla, Bounty Killer, Beenie Man, Sanchez, Richie Spice, Glen Washington, I-Octane and Nesbeth.

"We have a good mix of the reggae and the young dancehall section," Taylor said. "You can't go around seniority and experience. You have to acknowledge and respect the people who the world recognises. When these people go out, the Europeans adore them. When they come here, they ask for them."

However, Taylor said, "It is a Christmas night and you have a cross section of people coming out. You have to present the best of Jamaica at the end of the year. You get the question how this artiste is hot overseas and you are not seeing them in Jamaica. These are some of the reasons why I keep the show, to keep the culture alive."

That also means renewal, and Taylor said from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m., the young potential stars will perform.

"We pick some not only from the parish, but right across Jamaica," he said. Grounding the event in the community is not only on stage, but after the show, there will be support for an illness which affects numerous people directly and indirectly.

"This year we are bringing the awareness of cancer more to the people. We will be doing a donation again (to the Jamaica Cancer Society in St Elizabeth)," Taylor said. "They appreciate it. I am hoping to give more this year. The St Elizabeth branch is struggling to go into the communities."


Caring for the homeless


Additionally, Taylor is involved in taking care of people in the parish who live on the streets.

Once again, Boom energy drink is the main Extravaganza sponsor, in about the brand's sixth year of association with the concert, which Taylor positions as among those remaining in a declining sector.

"After 15 years, the show has become an event," Taylor said. "The shows are gone. It is only me, Sting, Rebel Salute and Sumfest."

At the new venue, one of the things that will remain consistent is the large sign Taylor places on stage, advising performers and audience that there are rules against cursing and verbal attacks on any group.

"My sign is always there. You have to maintain that discipline," Taylor said.