Jamaica Magazine

Review: 2013 Rebel Salute greatness grows

Last year Beres Hammond’s song “Can you play some more” lingered in the minds of Rebel Salute 2012 patrons who were spoilt with a wide array of Jamaica reggae music treats, the last being a fiery note by Capleton. This year the staging across two days delivered a full package of the reggae – music and proverbial phrases complimented by other offerings such as herbal diet, art, craft.

“Don’t turn around” is the theme to linger on for patrons who indulged in the fullness of Rebel Salute 2013 tagged “The Preservation of Reggae”, at Richmond Estate, Saint Ann, alcohol-free.

Endorsed by Jamaica Tourist Board in it’s 20th year, the event was nothing short of an effective Salute to veterans, while paying due homage to newcomers in training to carry on the traditional influences of Reggae. Projected to some day become the annual event to be in Jamaica, the celebration was set to and did reel in an unprecedented turnout  to the music indigenous to Jamaica, in its birthplace in keeping with one vision of Tony Rebel and his production team.

Mutabaruka, a proverbial pillar of strength was one of the chosen emcees for the celebratory preservation of reggae. He proved to be a strong thread to knit all elements together in the warming music canopy. As the Chinese revere their ancient heads, the iconic Tony Rebel strategically placed the aged Mutabaruka to put some respect back into the continuum of Reggae.


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Mutabaruka never even sang one note, but with his wise sayings and often times punchy lines, he went from parables to axioms, while prompting peals of laughter from the crowd. His messages were just as sharp as the lyrics of the selected artistes as even the politicians and other events felt the lashing of his tongue. Keeping it current, Mutabaruka even said “Mi nah fight ‘gainst Jazz, mi go Jazz, but mi jealus especially when I think of what reggae do fi Jamaica. [TRANSLATION: I am not fighting against Jazz and Blues, I go to Jazz, but I am jealous especially when I think of what reggae does for Jamaica].

Then it was time to release the charge by the artistes … but not without a warning to Ninjaman.

Ninja man was imposed in the historic Friday night’s line up by Mutabaruka. He had a brief moment to perform, just before the natural mystic collared him with a piercing warning to remain true to his voiced commitment to avoid crime. Although it was spoken to Ninjaman it was a message sent indirectly to the Jamaicans in the crowd.

Other messages included calls for better treatment of ghetto youth, job opportunities, healthy living, respect and better promotion of reggae music and artistes and the crowd, a good balance of nonrastafarians and rastafarians, went wild on each account, artiste after artiste.

Justice would be lacking if one should go on about any one favourite across the two days. Each artiste was an excellent gift to the birthday package for Tony Rebel who celebrated his 51st birthday on January 15th, and in return picked his co-stars for Jamaica’s celebration of the music of the land. While the world clamours for even a hint of reggae, the event was a heavenly treat for those who came out, even dared the rainfall Saturday morning.

Some would say the unexpected numbers signaled that Jah was standing by in response to Tony Rebel’s song “IF Jah is Standing by” among those he belted minutes to mid-Friday night. His own son Abatua and newest love beat Queen Ifrica, performing as another confirmation.

Shimmering in an all white get up, the ‘Queen of Reggae’ Marcia Griffiths was royal in her contribution recollection segment that could have been dubbed ‘Spirit of Bob Marley’. Beres Hammond belted a number of his songs in an unwinding reel of hits.                                      

Again Sky Juice with his belly wines and the fire performer were appreciated during the lengthy but necessary band changes on the historic Friday night. Professor Nuts did not disappoint to bring the crowd to stitches in a brief act.

By Saturday, the crowd settled for reconciliation performances by Kabaka Pyramid, Protoje (who was joined by Jah9), and Chronixx, who did not get to be a part of Friday night’s closing acts due to rain.

Two Saturday night artistes who spoke to the Jamaicans.com mediahouse summed up the Rebel Salute 2013 package.

Artiste Singing Melody in his 7th year attending the event, described Rebel Salute as one of the two remaining reggae shows held in Jamaica. The other is held in St Mary. “No offence to Sumfest”, he said, as he explained further that that show had R & B artistes, while Rebel Salute remained true to Reggae. “It’s a family event at home. Unlike Sumfest, the Rebel connects with the people at home.”

The Singing Melody remained elated to be  part of the vibes of Rebel Salute.  Adding perspective to dancehall artistes, he said “All artistes are dancehall artistes… everyone a wih buss inna dancehall, as our music play at every dance. Rebel Salute is a place for celebration.”

Iba Mahr one of the newest sensations admitted to growing up in a reggae environment who entertained with a sound system owned by family members. He indulged in other music forms from as early as the 1960s but said “It’s a joy being a part of Rebel Salute. Reggae music gives me an opportunity to send my message. It’s a pleasure to work on Rebel Salute … Rebel Salute really gives an opportunity to display culture and art. That is what we must showcase, as Jamaicans, at all times.”

Overall, veteran artistes delighted in taking the audience along memory lane with songs like “Tears on My Pillow” by St Ann born Ernie Smith, the signature styles of Chezidek and Richie Spice, the timeless mellow voice of Shinehead. Ernie Smith and Pluto Shervington did a good job with old time multiple hits including “Ram Goat Liver” and That’s The Kind of People We Are”.

Not so old Reggae stars like such as Tarrus Riley, I-Octane, I Wayne and even younger such as Chronixx, Raging Fire and Cali P promised a bright future with their work. The Nadine Sutherland and Terror Fabulous duo  impressed with their say of not being “a bag o mouth” in their declaring “Anything For You”. Along with Tony Curtis, Singing Melody ripped much love from the crowd with “Just As I Am.

Lady G, Queen Ifrica also represented the female species well, and the bands did good with their animated performances keeping eyes pinned forward.

Interestingly some of the performers had an undertone of Biblical references. In referring to a patriotic Jamaica, Mutabaruka was quick to call for the recording of lyrics presented for the purpose of oral history and teaching of principles over “translating the Bible to Patois”.

2013 called for a more mature audience, but demanded a younger one as Reggae was defined by Tony Rebel in the 2013 Salute lineup of artistes chosen. Someday the event will be a force against Air Jamaica Jazz and Blues Fest, and Reggae Sumfest if the Rebel keeps on reeling out the best of Reggae and its stars.

About the author

Anthea McGibbon

Anthea McGibbon, Editor and senior journalist, features arts, culture and people of Jamaica. Contact her at [email protected] or [email protected]