Rebel Salute roots reggae festival that takes place each January on the island. What began as a birthday celebration for legendary reggae vocalist Tony Rebel, near to January 15 of each year, has evolved into one of the prime festivals in Jamaica, now preparing to present the 26th year on January 18 and 19, 2019 at the Grizzly's Plantation Cove in Priory, St. Ann.
Far from the Pegasus ballroom, we participated in the media launch via live-stream (available via Facebook, Instagram, and online at RebelSaluteJamaica.com) here in Toronto, Canada, to take in the greetings and introductions from the various sponsors and participants who have helped to support and maintain this festival over the years. The 2019 iteration of Rebel Salute promises to be the best yet, with an outstanding lineup, and a range of products, services, and features for the reggae patrons.
"Every January, thousands of reggae music lovers make the pilgrimage to Rebel Salute for a world-class event that delivers a spectacular experience of authentic roots reggae, wholesome culture, and healthy living," according to the event website. This "family-friendly festival promotes the positive aspects of reggae music, and by extension the best of Jamaican culture."
Proclaimed to be "the greatest show on earth," the launch detailed the ticketing and highlights of Rebel Salute. Taking place over two days, tickets to the festival are currently on sale at a number of ticket outlets on the island ranging from Total gas stations to Fontana branches, as well as through online outlets FirstInLineJa.com (formerly YardTicket), and TicketPal.com.
The prices are as follows (listed in Jamaican Dollars):
General Pre-Sale: $5,500
General Gate Admission: $6,000
VIP Pre-Sale: $10,000
VIP Gate Admission: $11,000
Features also include the option to camp out at the venue under the stars, and Jamaican cuisine that adheres to a strict vegetarian menu (no meat at The Cove), a drug-free environment, violence-free surroundings, and no alcohol permitted. In addition to the ital eating, there will also be "an abundance of culture of the Jamaican people." The art and craft village, and the "Herb Curb" exposure is a unique feature of this family-friendly gathering of "healthy livity".
Rebel Salute will be a world-class event, profiling the wholesome culture, healthy living, and a spiritual renaissance. Like other high-profile festivals in Jamaica there has been a range of legends on the stage from Jimmy Cliff in 2005, Movado in 2011, plus Steve and Damian Marley in 2012 to name a few noted by the MC. A memorable performance from Koffee was noted, as she has had a steady career incline since.
The host Johnny "Live" Daley thanked many of the sponsors, accommodation partners, as well as introduced musical performances from the likes of Bushman, Turbulence, and Capleton. Turbulence, recently returning from a 4-year stay in Kenya, in a post-performance interview at the launch, says that "people can expect the unexpected" from his performance at Rebel Salute, as he continues to promote his new album entitled The Remedy.
On behalf of the Strictly Roots brand, Michael Dawson spoke of his support of Rebel Salute, as well as promoting his brand that strives to take the waters from Blue Mountain and use them as a symbol of a natural lifestyle, and bringing information to patrons about their roots.
Rebel Salute, he said that at EPICAN "we think it's our sacred duty to support reggae music."
Mark Pike, from Enterprise Jamaica said that in the two years that Enterprise has been present in Jamaica, they have supported the Rebel Salute for both years. "There's a rebel in all of us," he said, noting the importance of Jamaicans at home and abroad connecting, and the role that Enterprise plays in that process. In celebration of Rebel Salute, along with Reggae Month in February, the world's largest rental brand will be offering discounts to attendees.
Representatives from law enforcement ensured optimum safety and protection during the event, and also sent a reminder that participants and vendors should adhere to all guidelines, outlined in the best interest of all present.
"Tony Rebel succeeded in capturing the best in artistry and consciousness in an unabashed presentation of our Jamaica and African heritage," the Minister said. "Presenting the dignity our African ancestry has represented in Rastafari culture, with Africa at the centre of our cultural and creative consciousness."
Cordell Green, the Executive Director of the Jamaica Broadcasting Commission, introduced the evening's guest speaker just before 10:00 p.m. Queen's Counsel Paula Llewellyn, Jamaica's DPP (Director of Public Prosecutions). Speaking about her position as the first female DPP on the island, as well as referring to recent visits to the island from DJ Khaled and Drake. Her most important message: for the artists to be aware of their influence.
"I am all for artistic expression, but remember that no one is above the law...no one is below it, either," she said, reminding the artists and those in attendance that music is an important tool for messaging. A steady voice for justice, as Jamaica's only female director of prosecutions, she stressed that folks must always "know the rules of the game" and honour their talents.
"We own the authenticity of reggae: nobody can take that away from us," she said. "But I would like The Preservation of Reggae to also include an acknowledgement, that with this awesome gift, and with the awesome power, you must have a recognition that responsibility must be intermingled there. That responsibility means that you have to be careful--not careless--as a practitioner and an exemplar of what being a reggae ambassador is all about."
The DPP commended Rebel Salute for exemplifying positivity, and stressed that: "There is nothing wrong about Jamaica that what is right about Jamaica can not fix. Rebel Salute is one of the iconic things that is right about Jamaica."
Just after 10:30 p.m., the Fire Man himself Capleton was there to perform, electrifying the crowd with call-and-response, afterward telling reporters that he is "inspired through creation" and "has a passion for the music," putting his all into it to make sure it's great.
In conclusion, Tony Rebel said that Jamaicans must stand on the shoulders of our ancestors, and to share with each other. "Jamaica is still wonderful. Jamaica is still beautiful. Jamaican people are still some of the greatest people, and most talented people I know. Every country has their challenges, yes...but come! People here still will accommodate you, people here still will love you, and people will keep you safe too."
"It's a spiritual mandate to preserve the healthier aspects of our culture," said Rebel. "Let's listen to music that can motivate you, and music that can inspire. That is why everybody makes the trek in January, because they see it as a spiritual renaissance. The camaraderie of Rebel Salute, you don't see it no where else."
PERFORMING ARTISTS ANNOUNCED
"I've been doing this for 25 years: trust us. We are going to make sure that you get the best that you can get," said Tony Rebel before releasing the names of some of the festival's performers.
He also said they are giving Buju Banton space, that he is always invited, and all things are possible. Additional artists to be announced in the upcoming days via Instagram, Facebook, and the Rebel Salute website. Said Rebel: "When I say that I am going to give you more names: don't doubt me!"
The four-and-a-half-hour media launch concluded with a performance from Tony Rebel and some of his special guests, with vibes high and so much to anticipate with just a few weeks remaining until the big event. It was a pleasure to watch from Toronto, and connect with the passion of the culture that makes the island of Jamaica so influential.
Written by Stacey Marie Robinson for Kya Publishing's "Urban Toronto Tales."