Reggae Sumfest is now a memory and there are lots of pleasant ones, too. Despite a recession, the attendance on all three nights was unsurpassed, with many speculating that the crowd on Dancehall Night in particular surpassed all others in the festival’s 17-year history. However, up to Saturday night, the organizers had no actual figures available to support this theory.

Over the three nights, there were some great performances from both local and international acts, and what was surely one of the big surprises of the festival was deejay Bounty Killer’s very mature performance, which have his fans declaring that “Killa tek Dancehall Night”. Whether he did or not is debatable, but Mr. Rodney Pryce certainly outdid himself. Recalling the treatment meted out to him last year when he collected a couple ‘boos’, a smiling Bounty noted, “Oonu give it to me last year”, after which he totally redeemed himself with a performance that he dedicated to his mother, Miss Ivy.

Unfortunately, however, the baton that Bounty passed to his own ‘son’, Mavado, slipped and fell right out of the deejay’s hand. Mavado just couldn’t keep up to the blistering pace set by his ‘dad’.

International act Ne-Yo, who has enjoyed success with his 2008 album Year of the Gentleman, proved that he is quite a performer and did a set that has put him in contention for the top performer of Reggae Sumfest 2009. But he has a fierce battle for this crown with the likes of Tarrus Riley, Queen Ifrica, Coco Tea, Beenie Man, Etana, Lady Saw and Bounty Killer.

Beenie was crowned King on Dancehall Night and for him that was special. “The crowning and everything was great, but what made it so special to me was that it took place on the birthday of His Imperial Majesty, Haile Selassie,” he told us in an interview the following day.

On the downside, there were the unfortunate sound problems that plagued Toni Braxton’s performance. Patrons just couldn’t hear. Petite with a well -sculpted body and a costume designed to show off her assets, Toni looked fabulous on stage and when her voice did come through, it sounded good, but it was just too low and the sound from the band was just too loud. We spoke to one of the persons who we were told “own three quarters of the sound equipment on stage” and his explanation was that she was using a lot of voiceovers. But that still doesn’t really explain why the sound was so low.

And then there was the ‘incident’ with Etana, who was called up on stage (in a grinch-green dress) to perform with Toni. Etana was handed a microphone that seemed to be dead, and when patrons started shouting that they weren’t hearing her, she attempted to borrow Toni’s mic, but Toni would have none of that. She possessively pulled her mic to her chest, after which poor Etana was ushered off stage. End of that saga.

Apart from Beenie Man, the choices for closing acts proved wrong – neither Jah Cure nor Inner Circle could hold the crowd on Friday and Saturday night respectively. On Friday, people started streaming out after Ne-Yo and following Queen Ifrica’s impressive performance, the real exodus started. On Saturday night, the closing acts seemed to have been Junior Gong and Nas. Inner Circle did a good set, but people just weren’t interested in staying around after 7 o’clock Sunday morning to see them.

Tito Jackson, brother of Michael, came with his band and gave the government their moment of glory in the spotlight with the presentations made to him as the sole representative of the Jackson family. Perhaps the Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival could invite Tito and his band to perform next year on the festival’s small stage.

And people are still asking why did Da’Ville throw down the mic after he performed on Saturday night and then refuse to take pictures with the Digicel people.

Nothing beats professionalism and even if – as his publicist Ray Alexander stated Da’Ville was upset about the fact that he performed at 9:00 pm to a scanty venue and he felt his $65,000 worth of props didn’t work, partly because of last-minute hiccups and lack of communication between the organizers and front of stage, this level of disrespect is intolerable.

Yasmine Peru


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