Reggae Month Event Begins this Weekend

February is officially designated Reggae Month. In addition to a tribute concert in honor of the late Crown Prince of Reggae Dennis Brown [see previous post Dennis Brown Tribute to Start Reggae Month] in downtown Kingston this Sunday, January 29, 2012, there will be a symposium on his life and work at Liberty Hall on King Street. The tribute concert will take place that evening at 121-135 Orange Street outside the ‘Big Yard’ where he once lived, between Charles and North Streets. Other tributes will take place at the Honour Awards, to be held on February 25 at Emancipation Park. The honorees (both deceased and alive) will include sound system operator Tom the Great Sebastian, Romain Virgo, Clement Dodd, Duke Reid, Laza Morgan, Mavado, Copeland Forbes, and the Jamaica Federation of Musicians (JFM).

The symposium and concert are part of a dense Reggae Month calendar outlined by the Jamaica Reggae Industry Association (JaRIA) at the Bob Marley Museum, 56 Hope Road, St Andrew, on Tuesday evening. JaRIA vice-chairman Charles Campbell also announced that the organisation’s annual Wednesday concerts, which will run on five nights throughout February, have been moved from the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts to Emancipation Park, New Kingston.

Though that would seem to indicate an expansion in the scope of the concerts, there was a persistent thread of concern for Jamaica’s hold on its popular music throughout the event. Host Ibo Cooper, JaRIA’s chairman, pointed out that, as a nation, Austria has done a superb job in preserving and disseminating information about the music and life of composer Beethoven and “today the world is taught about Beethoven”. “Our children should not know more about Beethoven than Bob and Peter and Bunny and Dennis,” Cooper said.

IRIE FM’s Brian Schmidt got down to the legislative nuts and bolts of ensuring a space for Jamaican popular music in the society, saying that, this year, he would like to see zoning laws passed. “We can’t have an industry that is not at home at home. That makes no sense,” Schmidt said, laying down a challenge to Minister of Youth and Culture Lisa Hanna and state minister in that ministry, Damion Crawford, who were both present.

[. . .] JaRIA board member Rupert Hoilett outlined a slate of events, the official calendar having an event every day, staged by JaRIA or a regular event which has been endorsed by the organisation for Reggae Month.

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