Sumfest Time Again

Since the development of reggae from ska, mento and R&B of the 1960s – this musical genre has grown to be a genre unlike any other. From the works of Jamaican producers such as Coxsone Dodd, Lee ‘Stratch’ Perry and Duke Reid to name a few, reggae has since evolved multiple times over while other genres have since faded to black and eventually disappeared and lost their relevance. Reggae is noted for its tradition of social criticism in its lyrics. Some reggae lyrics attempt to raise political consciousness of the audience. The movement of reggae’s development from early reggae to roots reggae to dub to rockers to lover’s rock shows that change in musical styles does not have to kill a genre but enhance it and allow it to appeal to a newer audience, while still keeping the elements that captured the initial audience. Starting in small home-made studios then eventually making it into the dancehall were these new riddims – which when accompanied by the toasting of a deejay – created a whole new experience for the listener. (Credit: Wikipedia, Tougher than Tough)

Started in August of 1993, this year marks the twentieth installment of the Reggae Sumfest Concert, which has been an annual event since its early beginnings in 1993. Dubbed “The Greatest Reggae Show on Earth” – Reggae Sumfest has showcased the talents of some of Reggae’s greats such as Beres Hammond, Tony Rebel and Freddie McGreggor as well as some of dancehall’s latest stars that include Beenie Man, Bounty Killer and Lady Saw. Additionally, each year international acts are booked to perform; in the past such artists have included 50 Cent, Cham, and Rihanna. Reggae Sumfest was created as a thank-you to a group of local Montego Bay business people who came together to create Summerfest Productions Limited amid the loss of the annual festival, Reggae Sun Splash; the predecessor of Sumfest. (Credit: Wikipedia & SumFest Magazine 2011)

This year Sumfest is scheduled from July Fifteenth to July Twenty-First and kicked off with a Beach Party on the Fifteenth, which was located on the shore of Cornwall Beach in Jamaica. Locals and visitors alike took part in the festivities enjoying the vibes and many took to Twitter to give the world a play-by-play account of what was going down in Jamaica’s second city. The kickoff to Sumfest is much like any other beach party that you will find on a Caribbean island, one of chill vibrations where artistes and fans get to mingle and enjoy the reggae sounds played by local DJs and Selectas out of the Jamaican music industry. This year’s beach party featured ZJ Bambino, Delano, DJ Kentucky, DJ Jigga, and Miss Blease (Blaze). This Thursday, July Nineteenth is the Dancehall Night which will feature such artistes as Jah Vinci, Baby Tash, I-Octane, Potential Kid, Stacious, Konshens and Popcaan to name a few. Thursday definitely looks like it will be a night full of dancehall vibes entirely. Friday, July Twentieth and Saturday, July Twenty-First are dubbed the International Nights. Such artists scheduled to perform include: Shabba Ranks, Trey Songz, Tessane Chin, Sophia Brown, Pinchers, R. Kelly, Damian ‘Jr. Gong’ Marley, Christopher Martin and Proteje and the Indiggnation. (Credit: Reggae SumFest 2012)

The decision of those Montego Bay businessmen and women to create the production company which puts on SumFest annually is one that I am sure generations since have come to appreciate. With the loss of Sun Splash, it goes to show that an element that is important to one’s culture should never be taken away or compromised. Whether the politicians deem it important or the previous promoters no longer wished to continue the endeavor, the community members know more than anyone what the locals want and what visitors enjoy when they tour the country. Reggae is synonymous with Jamaica – so for those business people to take on the task of keeping the tradition alive should be commended and applauded. I personally have made a pledge of my own to resurrect the music fest that was once an annual event in Bermuda – no we don’t have any genre of music that we created back home – but we are supporters of just about every musical genre out there, including and most notably Reggae.

If there’s something that has changed recently in your country that gave you as a local something to look forward to and you know had a major impact on your tourism industry but for some reason has been taken away: see what you can do to bring it back. The Islands may not have a large landmass from which we can produce products to supply the world’s demand, but we are by far some of the greatest people at selling a service – the service of rest and relaxation. Make a choice to change the world, one small issue at a time.

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