Wed | Aug 12, 2020

Wait-and-see for Rebel Salute

Published:Tuesday | July 14, 2020 | 12:00 AMYasmine Peru/Senior Gleaner Writer
Tony Rebel performs at rebel Salute 2020.
Queen Ifrica rocks the stage at Rebel Salute 2020.
Scenes from Rebel Salute 2019.

As uncertainty continues to hover over the staging of entertainment events, owing to the global pandemic, which has decimated the live-music scene and seen many festivals either cancelled or having to shift dates, the organisers of Rebel Salute say that they are “waiting and watching”. Rebel Salute, the annual roots and consciousness music festival, held in Jamaica in January of each year, is set to have its next calendar staging in January 2021. A two-day event, its home for the past several years has been the Grizzly’s Plantation Cove in St Ann.

Reggae artiste and promoter of the event Tony Rebel told The Gleaner that he and his team are keenly watching things unfold while having several discussions at various levels as they plot the way forward. “We are adopting a wait-and-see approach right now,” the CEO of one of Jamaica’s biggest music festivals explained. “Whatever we do, we have to ensure that there is no risk to the Saluters [concert attendees] and everybody who is involved in the production.”

With four months to go before what would generally be the official launch of the festival in December, Tony Rebel disclosed that he and his team have a variety of ideas in mind. “We are exploring various possibilities for Rebel Salute 2021. Of course, among them is the possibility that it might not be an actual show,” he said, making reference to the COVID-19 era reality, which has seen events move from a specific, defined space, on to the virtual landscape. However, he could not commit to a specific plan at this time.

Already, major festivals and huge weekend events have fallen victim to the coronavirus pandemic. Reggae Sumfest organisers announced in April that “due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 staging will not take place as scheduled. Jamaica’s biggest summer reggae festival, Reggae Sumfest, will now be held from July 18-24, 2021.” Dream Weekend, the weeklong celebration of music in Negril, after much consideration, also announced that they have closed the door on celebrations for 2020. Dream Weekend will now take place from August 5-9 2021. Jamaica’s groundbreaking Reggae Sunsplash, which was set to make a splash comeback after a 14-year hiatus, was set for November 6 to 8 at Grizzly’s Plantation Cove in St Ann. The organisers announced a cancellation in May but did not give a new date.

The entertainment industry, which has been officially locked down since March, has begun to see a slow re-emergence. There has been a phased reopening, with the film industry, cinemas, theatres, and sports bars given the go-ahead but with specific COVID-19 protocols attached. However, events that require permits have not yet been given the greenlight.

Rebel Salute 2020, which took place on January 17 and 18, featured some of reggae and dancehall’s best artistes. On the line-up were Beres Hammond, British reggae band Steel Pulse, Toots and the Maytals, Sanchez, Bobi Wine from Uganda, Beenie Man, Singing Melody, Leroy Sibbles, Stevie Face, Queen Ifrica, Flourgon, Trisha from Kenya, Chi Ching Ching, Carl Malcolm, Lone Ranger, General Trees, Sugar Roy, Jermaine Edwards, Rhoda Isabella, the Wailers Trio, Mikey Spice, Chronic Law, Anthony B, I-Octane, Jesse Royal, I-Wayne, The Meditations, Wayne Wade, Louie Culture, Mortimer, Tony Tuff, Errol Dunkley, Lady G, and George Nooks.

There was also a section for comedian Johnny Daley, and the organisers shone the spotlight on Jamaica’s soundclash culture with an epic clash between Dynamq Sound International and Black Scorpio.