Jamaica Observer: KINGSTON, JA, Richard Johnson, Senior Reporter – PERENNIAL Rebel Salute favourite Queen Ifrica brought the curtains down on Friday’s opening night of the virtual staging of the popular reggae music festival. She, along with Notis Heavyweight Rockaz, were the only two ‘live’ performers on the event which was forced into a virtual format due to the current pandemic.
For the rest of the night, which was nearly five hours in duration, show promoter Tony Rebel and his team dug deep into their archives to pull some of the memorable performances from past shows.
With the help of hosts Chukka and Tony Rebel himself, viewers were served an impressive showcase, well packaged into interesting segments, as well as interviews with some music industry insiders including producer Donovan Germain and Desmond “Desi” Young.
The event opened with Tony Rebel setting the stage with a historical perspective on the first Rebel Salute, which was held at Fayor’s Entertainment Centre in Mandeville in 1994. He shared anecdotes of his good friend, the late Garnett Silk, who broke a hiatus to perform on the inaugural salute, and the fact that acts such as Diana King, Worl-A-Girl and American actor Malik Yoba were all in attendance.
The packaged performances began with ‘Presence in Absence’, a tribute to the acts who have graced the Rebel Salute stage but are not longer with us.
This saw performaces from Toots Hibbert from the 2020 staging of the festival when he delivered another of his signature strong performances. John Holt followed. His performance came from the 2014 staging of Rebel Salute when he delivered timeless tunes such as Stealing, Love I Can Feel, Ali Baba, Sweetie, Up Park Camp, If I Were a Carpenter and Police Inna Helicopter, which he remarked did well despite only being played once on local radio as it was banned by then Prime Minister Hugh Shearer. The “Cool Ruler” Gregory Isaacs from 2007 and Eddie Fitzroy from 2012 and 2014 were also included. Another memorable mement from this set was the performace by Bob Andy from 2014. He dropped anthems including Too Experienced, Fire Burning and Got to Go Back Home on his virtual audience.
The next segment was ‘They Were There’.
This included performances from the likes of Buju Banton from 2007, Jimmy Cliff, Junior Byes and the ever-popular Beres Hammond whose 2013 set at Rebel Salute included his popular tracks Come Back Home, Step Aside Now, She Loves Me Now, Double Trouble, Putting Up Resistance, Pull Up The Vibes, and No Disturb Sign. The Marley brothers Stephen and Damian also entertained in this segment.
Rebel Salute has always been the stage which seemlessly combines established and emerging acts. In the segment ‘Starting Point’ Tony Rebel and his team again brought archival footage to life showcasing some of today’s emerging acts who cut their teeth on the festival’s stage.
A young Chronixx from 2012 delivering his tracks Jah Ova Evil and Start a Fire opened this set which would also feature a young Tarrus Riley from 2005, and Turbulence from that same year. The audience was also treated to Koffee’s first performance on Rebel Salute in 2018, when she was brought on by veteran singer Cocoa Tea who introduced her as a “17-year-old from Spanish Town who is set to be Jamaica’s next female sensation”. Her set also included footage from the following year when the future Grammy-winner dropped her hit Toast.
The final segment was decidated to the crowd-pleasers, those acts who despite not having a current hit, were able to move the audience.
For this, the organisers chose the performances from 80s deejay General Trees from his 2013 appearance on the festival’s stage, and Hopeton James also from that year; Errol Dunkley who dropped hits such as Black Cinderella, OK Fred, and Gonna Need Me during his set in 2013, Leroy Gibbons and Half Pint were also included.
Tony Rebel shared during the broadcast that Half Pint was not pleased with the time he was being placed on the show and had to be encouraged to just do a hit parade. His hits included Nah Let Go, Easy Mr Landlord, One Big Family, Political Friction, Cost of Living, Substitute Lover, Love Nah Share and Level Di Vibes.
The opening night of Rebel Salute, the virtual experience, saw viewers who represented a number of countries including Cost Rica, Uganda, the Netherlands, the United States, the United Kingdom, Tanzania, Canada, Guyana, Brazil, The Gambia, Germany, Bermuda, Japan and Madagascar.
- Top Feature Photo: Beres Hammond (left) and Tony Rebel