I recently had the seemingly rare opportunity of watching the performance of three stalwarts in the Reggae Music Industry. It was amazing to witness the finesse and style of these three gentlemen. I speak in reference of Beres Hammond, Sanchez and Wayne Wonder.
In the Concert dubbed: Singers in Action: Love Within the Music, veteran entertainer Beres Hammond, who embarked on a North American tour with a few of his friends gave a superb performance that was unparalleled.
The show was kicked off by the baby of the group—Von Wayne Charles…a.k.a.Wayne Wonder. He began his set with the swinging tune—‘Bashment Party’. He told his attentive audience that ‘Strange Things Are Happening’, ‘Anything Goes (Say You Wanna Take My Life)’ and ‘Enemies’. In a black suit and crisp white shirt, along with his signature shades, Wonder continued to wow the audience with tunes such as ‘I Don’t Know Why’, ‘Love and Affection’, ‘Saddest Day of My Life’. Waynie also sang one of his new tunes for the audience entitled ‘If I Ever’. The tune turned out to be a very refreshing track and quite indicative of the work that Wayne would put forth.
He began singing some of his hits with Buju and the crowd went wild! When he did his parts then the audience chimed in with the absent Buju’s parts. He had the house rocking. In an interview after his performance, Wayne when asked about his music and people emulating him, his response was: “People wanna sound like Waynie Wonder but only hard work and dedication gets you places.” When asked what he has been up to these days, Wonder said that he was on the road touring with Beres and that there were no special tricks. He said: “All I wanna do is make music—I am an engineer who travels with his Bluetooth and flash drive so I can record anywhere I go.” He was also asked about the repertoire of Buju Banton songs in his act…his response was: “Just to make the people know that Buju is alive, I include his songs in my set all the time so that they can remember. Buju is on ‘time-out’ right now because the Lord works in mysterious ways; Buju is my brother!”
Going back to his performance that night–He did signature songs such as ‘When I’m With You’, ‘Searching’, ‘Rainbow’, ‘Dedicating This Song To My Favorite Girl’ and ‘Informer’. He ended his set to resounding applause as he did the popular dances moves as he sang ‘No Holding Back’. Wayne Wonder’s performance told us that New York was not going to be the same after Beres Hammond and his friends left town!
After the whirlwind of what was Wayne Wonder, one would have thought; “no man, it can’t get any better than that!” but we were all proven wrong because no sooner had Jubba (one of the hosts for the evening) uttered his name, the man came to the stage and Mr. Kevin Anthony Jackson a.k.a.Sanchez ‘brought it’. Resplendent in a pure white suit and baby blue silk shirt and matching tie, he ran on stage, fell to his knees and opened his mouth! That could have been the end of the show because all the women in the room simply swooned in adoration. The filled-to- capacity Hammerstein Ballroom erupted into a thunderous roar of sheer ecstasy. The smooth, sultry strains of Sanchez drove everyone…men and women into various utterances of complete appreciation and sheer bliss.
The crowd chanted and the endless sea of people waited expectantly as the ever dapperly dressed crooner sang ‘Just When I Thought I Was Over You’. As he went through his repertoire of hit after hit (tunes such as: ‘Lonely Won’t Leave Me Alone’, ‘Missing You’, ‘Never Dis the Man’, ‘One in a Million’, ‘You Are Not Alone’, ‘Give It a Chance’, ‘Wherever I Lay My Hat’, ‘Are You Still In love With Me’ and ‘Brown Eye Girl’ to name a few), he systematically began removing articles of clothing; first the jacket then the tie and then the necklace. He then proceeded to remove the neatly tucked shirt from his pants. At some point in his delivery, he rolled up his sleeves and almost tore the house apart when he began singing his gospel hits. He then exited the stage singing Hallelujah, but after a tumultuous shout from the audience for an encore…he returned.
After returning for his encore, Sanchez had the patrons rocking in tandem, solemnly to the soulful strains of ‘Amazing Grace’. He then exited the stage when one patron was overheard saying… “Jah know, da show yah cyan dun now because di singer dun the place…the ting sell off!” That however, was not to be because the man of the hour was about to enter….It was Star Time!!!
Star Time: Mr. Beres Hammond
…Enter stage right, the inimitable…Mr. Beres Hammond! I had the honor earlier in the evening of having a brief conversation with the man, recounting our encounters in the good old days in Kingston. It was during this brief interval that I deduced that we were in for a special treat later on that evening. The man was in rare form; ready to deliver and that he did.
Beres had everyone in the room on their feet from start to finish, ‘Rocking Away’ to his tunes. Hit after hit, after hit, he delivered songs from his extensive catalog. He began with ‘Can’t Stop a Man From Trying’ and the 7000 plus music-loving patrons ‘railed-up’ in the place! He then told us to ‘Step Aside’ since we didn’t know ‘What One Dance Can Do’ because ‘She Loves Me Now’ and that was ‘My Wish’!
He rolled right into ‘Who Say (Big Man Don’t Cry)’. By this time EVERYBODY in the ballroom was on their feet. He said ‘Come Back Home’ so at this point a young lady who seemed to be his #1 fan brought him a bouquet of red roses. She seemed to be in heaven as she was standing below him in the ‘press box’ front and center of the stage—where she remained for his entire performance.
After acknowledging her presence he belted out…I’m ‘Tempted To Touch’, ‘Golden Touch’, ‘Sweetness’, ‘Sweet Lies’and ‘Groovy Little Thing’.
I was unable to interview Beres but I did the next best thing and that was to speak with his handsome son Rasheed. Rasheed is shy but is the ‘spitting image’ of his dad and he quickly declared that he can’t sing like his dad. I watched as he sat side-stage and enjoyed his father’s music and the reaction of the fans.
“I can feel the love of the people for him and that makes me extremely proud!”
By the time I was through speaking to Rasheed all I heard was ‘Double Trouble’ followed by ‘Putting Up Resistance’. All this time, the crowd was singing along with Beres. He was visibly overwhelmed by the reaction of the masses and so stopped in mid song and expressed himself verbally to the crowd:
“Thanks for your support through all the years…I do appreciate you.”
Beres continued to tell us a story so he belted out ‘I Feel a Shiver’ followed by ‘Cool Off the Vibes’. At this point some members of his staff brought out a birthday cake to surprise one of the members of his crew. She was indeed surprised as he took her center-stage and sang the birthday song to her with the help of the audience.
‘Oh What a Night’….’I Feel Good’ so let’s put out the ‘No Disturb Sign’ because ‘Love Means Never To Say That You’re Sorry’ was what he told us as he did the ‘Rock Away’ before taking ‘One Step Ahead’. He then told his captive audience that ‘I’m In love With You Without Control’. He then jumped off the stage to get some direct contact with the eager crowd as he began to show his appreciation as he was thankful. He said his farewell delivering a powerful rendition of ‘Give Thanks’.
Jammins Entertainment certainly out-did themselves this time. The effort was a tremendous success as evidenced by the reaction of the patrons to this event and the sea of satisfied faces on every floor, nook and cranny of the venue. It was indeed refreshing to attend an event with only three artistes who packed the venue to the rafters, instead of having to endure and evening with a huge conglomerate of mediocre artistes who fail to bring their ‘A’ game to the main event. Kudos to Mr. George Crooks and his team; this is further proof to the music fraternity that IT CAN be done and done in excellence!