Thursday, 20 February 2014

THAT TIME OF YEAR: A wave of JARIA-endorsed events energize Reggae Month

AL FRESCO: A sampling of the booths on display at the trade fair; Inset, rising star Keznamdi, who was among the acts who entertained the crowd.

Ever since we started dedicating it to the celebration of our indigenous music, in tandem with black history, February has become the busiest month and a favourite of culture enthusiasts on the local calendar. To wit, the Jamaica Reggae Industry Association (JARIA) has taken on the mammoth job of orchestrating over 20 events to fill out the month's 28 days, under the apt theme "The journey continues."

Energetic emcees Ibo Cooper and Isis blazed just as bright as the spirited acts who hit the stage Wednesday night to kick-start the concert portion of JARIA's 2014 Trade Fair inside the Ranny Williams Entertainment Centre. FYI, at said trade fair, running from the 19th to the 21st, each night brings live performances from some of reggae's recognizable names and up-and-comers complemented by booth displays spread across the complex, with VP Records, I-Nation Publishing, the Alpha Boys Home and the Bob Marley Foundation, to name only a few of the participating entities.

Delivering pure crowd-pleasing vibes, the mainstage came alive on Wednesday with appearances by Keznamdi (a militant product of the Edna Manley College who recalls a young Junior Gong), the soft rock-edgy Skygrass Band, the soulful Pentateuch and the robust stylings of Esco Levi, who all managed to deliver feel-good roots-rock-reggae vibrations accompanied by a rotating phalanx of backing bands (the competent Warrior Love among them.)

The rest of the week should bring more of the same, in addition to intellectually stimulating fare, including a series of panel discussions (via the JARIA Open University) centred on everything from pioneering women in the music industry to the contributions of radio and the sound system to the growth and preservation of reggae.

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