Last Wednesday’s staging of Reggae Wednesdays, at Emancipation Park in New Kingston, brought fresh talent to the city. The event, which is hosted every Wednesday for the duration of February, pulled hundreds of patrons to the park where they were treated to credible performances free of cost.
Mutabaruka gave an impressive display of his Afrocentric belief, wearing an African robe and sporting his much-talked-about bare feet. Mutabaruka appeared to be in his element and had the patrons feeding from his hands as he delivered the lines from his poetry over soothing reggae instrumentals played by his backing band.
He performed popular poems such as The Monkey Speaks His Mindand Outcry for which he received a much-deserved standing ovation from the audience, apparently captivated by his words and ‘realness’.
Mutabaruka’s exit made way for a long band change, then, after several minutes of waiting, radio personality/actress Simone C. Simpson announced French reggae band Bruce I as the next performers. The Frenchmen gave a performance of original reggae songs in French. Though the majority of the audience did not understand the language, they all sat and applauded the melodies delivered over the reggae rhythms.
Upcoming roots reggae band Blue Print was next, and they also gave a good representation of themselves, singing favourites such as BobMarley’s Concrete Jungle and originals like You Are My Baby. Blue Print also invited upcoming reggae artiste Demitries, and he sang One Race One People. He also got a good reception from the audience.
After recorded music from Squeeze, led off by 1865 (96 Degrees in the Shade), The Roots Radics band, a staple in the roots rockers made in the late 1970s to early 1980s, hit a good note by honouring fallen reggae soldiers. Sugar Minott’s No Vacancy was first up, then Junior Sinclair did the Cool Ruler, Gregory Isaacs, in song, dress, and rhythmic gait, to the delight of the audience. Love Overdue, Border, and Night Nurse hit the spot, Sinclair taking off his jacket and pulling his shirt tails from his waistband, as Gregory was wont to do during his performances.
The Isaacs tribute closed with Number One. Bongo Herman took over with his combination of raucous crowd appeal, grounded in roots reggae and percussions.
Alton Ellis was honoured with his rocksteady instructions and the drumming in Drifter led inevitably to the enamel chamber pot.
Tristan Palma worked his way up to his trademark Entertainment, giving nods to Little Roy (Prophecy), Barry Brown (Far East), and Michael Palmer (Lick Shot) in the process, the audience enjoying the night of rockers in Emancipation Park.