Rain, Revelation at Reggae Sumfest | Entertainment

Gimmicks, fashion, bold statements and tributes befitting a musical era that has propelled Jamaican culture and its practitioners on to international stages elevated the second and final night of Reggae Sumfest. It was off to a good start with reggae-dancehall newcomers Monifa, Nvtzz and Yashamba, and rising acts like Khalia, Dre Zee, Wesrok, Nation Boss, Yaksta and D’Yani sticking to the script of warming up the engines. D’Yani turned up his performance a notch by inviting popular dancer Christina Gonzales on to the stage, who somehow ended up giving a steamy routine in a shower enclosure used as a prop.

Downsound Entertainment’s principal Joe Bogdanovich lauded the young artistes for keeping the festivalgoers on their toes.

“This is a place where champions live; we have champions breaking records in every field, from the Olympic Games and World Championships to the Reggae Sumfest stage,” he told The Gleaner.

He added, “Night one was awesome in terms of the fan support. Everyone walked into the venue which was six degrees up from 2019, feeling elated. I found myself running away [during night two] to make certain I could take in a few sets, just hearing the music and looking at the whole show…this is very good art of an international, cutting-edge festival standard.”

He said that Saturday’s audience differed from Friday’s, which had a roster that was heavily dancehall-influenced.

“It’s feeling like a whole other night; more about the traditional, roots music with an international appeal. It was a mixture of great reggae music and some dancehall, paying homage in a presentation with technology, imagery, storytelling; and working with a master producer like Dave Kelly, it proved exceptional and inspiring,” Bogdanovich offered.

Leave it to seasoned reggae-dancehall entertainers to have an audience spellbound with their staged performances, though some pushed the limit lyrically, with expletives escaping their lips despite warnings to keep it clean. Here’s a look at some of the sets from Reggae Sumfest Night Two:

Beres Hammond

The veteran had both young and old standing at attention, appropriately setting the tone with his single, Rise and Shine. The lovers rock reggae maestro, accompanied by his Harmony House Band and female trio of harmonisers, was in his element as he delivered with smooth transitions from one hit to the next. As is the norm, festivalgoers engaged in a singalong and rocked to the rhythms of One Dance, She Loves Me Now, Love Means Never To Say I’m Sorry, Putting Up Resistance, then closed with Rockaway.

Christopher Martin

The You’ll Never Find singer is known to perform well with tracks, but with a live band, Martin’s signature vocals get the boost it needs. Adding a few a capella moments, he managed to sprinkle social commentary into the set, as he called on the audience to pay respects to missing social media influencer Donnalee Donaldson and Kemisha Wright, the mother who was slain with her four children in Clarendon last month. He also introduced a new, sentimental track titled Guaranteed.

Dexta Daps

It was expected that the proclaimed ‘king of sexy dancehall’ would not bite his lips when it came to the raunchy lyrics of his hit singles No Underwear, WiFi, Slippery & Wet, and Reconnected, as well as collaborations with Ikaya, who made a guest appearance to add her touch to Nosey Neighbour and Mi General. Dexta Daps’ performance plot was seamless, with flawless wardrobe changes, switching from an orange prison overall to a white religious robe and joined by a dancing choir to party wear, representing Jamaica 60 with a custom-designed jacket in the island’s national colours (which one lucky fan caught when he threw it into the crowd). He also invited veteran entertainer Louie Culture, whose hit Gangalee is sampled in his single, Call Me If. Louie Culture set the tone for the tribute to award-winning producer Dave Kelly as he also delivered some of his best tracks, the majority of which had been recorded on rhythms he produced.

Madhouse Dave Kelly Tribute

Kelly received the honour of a 55-minute-long segment dedicated to his contributions to the reggae and dancehall culture. Well known as a man who loves his personal space, Kelly was said to be watching from left stage as veteran deejays Cham, Bounty Killer, Beenie Man, Frisco Kid, Wayne Wonder, Mr Easy and Spragga Benz. Leaving much to the curiosity of the audience, Kelly did not make himself the centre of attention but, instead, allowed the artistes to transport the audience back to the ‘90s as they performed their popular tracks on riddims like ‘Medicine’, ‘Showtime’, ‘Fiesta’, ‘Murderation’, ‘Haunted’, ‘Bug’ and ‘Joyride’, among others. The star-studded set was cohesive, even as Beenie Man, in true ‘King of the Dancehall’ style made three outfit changes. The group of hitmakers brought a much-needed dance party late in the showcase – 7 a.m. to be exact – when many persons are usually taxed out on energy. However, Cham and Bounty Killer’s exchange of profanity-laced lyrics as they teased their new project, Bloodc***t, dropped jaws.

Sizzla Kalonji

The changing cloud patterns had signalled that the rain was coming, but whether or not, that was not about to stop Sizzla’s shine. Prior to making his entrance with his all-female background quartet and dance troupe, who he called The Sizzling Elements, Sizzla told The Gleaner he would be channeling the energy of legends like Bob Marley, Peter Tosh and Jacob Miller to bring the festival to the roots. He kept the set clean, engaging the women on and off stage. Almost halfway through a high-energy set, the clouds burst open, releasing showers of blessings. Sizzla continued to perform until those who determined to stay until the last lyric – with or without any form of protection from the rain – were soaked. An appropriate track to end, Sizzla exited to the sounds of Ruff Kutt playing Take Myself Away.


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