Big Tings a Gwan!
After a very pleasant flight on Air Jamaica including an excellent breakfast of fish, rice and fruit, I walked off the plane into the bright Jamaican sun, filled with excitement. Arriving a little earlier than expected, I had to wait a bit while the Reggae Sumfest contact at that airport located Greg Bagarozy who was picking me up. With dozens of performers, tons of equipment, thousands of Reggae music fans from around the world, video & audio production recording and lighting crews all descending upon MoBay simultaneously, it was pretty intense. There was still a tremendous amount of equipment to set up, more people coming and not a single hotel room in Montego Bay available. But everyone was cool and determined.
Once Greg picked me up, we went to a beautiful villa in the mountains above MoBay that had been arranged for us by Robert Russell, one of Reggae Sumfest's Jamaican founders and managing partners. Very upset when Sunsplash, a music festival nearly 20 years old, moved to Kingston, Robert and his partners created REGGAE SUMFEST to make sure Montego Bay stayed the home of the world's greatest Reggae music festival. Now in its third year, it is already "clearly the festival of choice." After spending the day at the sight we went back to the villa for a swim and dinner. Louise, our housekeeper made us a spectacular meal of grilled fish and potatoes followed by fresh slices of mango, and some of the world's best coffee from Jamaica's Blue Mountains. We then drove downtown where the streets were filled with partying Jamaicans and international visitors all enjoying the cool night breezes off the ocean and anticipating the start of REGGAE SUMFEST '95.
I hung out at Walter's, a great bar in town on the coast road, and had a great time talking to Andrew. He worked during the week at Walter's Bar but for the next few days he would have his own food booth at the festival. He would get to hear and see the whole show and make more money then he would make in four or five weeks at Walter's. He felt like everybody else, REGGAE SUMFEST '95 was a wonderful event. Great music, a coming together of wonderful people from all over the world and an influx of prosperity that benefited everybody in the Montego Bay area. A few thousand people were rockin' to the soundclash just down the beach and everywhere else the party was beginning as well.
Tonight, Tuesday August 8th, was the "warm up": a soundclash at the Walter Fletcher Beach. As dozens of video equipment flight cases were being unloaded, the digital audio recording team from Disney/MGM was starting to get a little edgy. They had been down here for two days waiting to fire up their state of the art system and still had no power with the show less than 24 hours away from start time. They are here to capture what will probably amount to 50 hours or more of music over the next five days. It looked like they might be able to do an equipment check by midnight.
Check back here for more reports from MoBay over the coming days. Jah guide, protect and prosper. Ras John (8/8/95)