Nuff respect to all the musicians for delivering on the pre-show hype, but it’s unfortunate that more local performers were not featured. There were no less than six – count them – six acts that received top billing for the event: Third World, Buju Banton Collie Buddz, Kiprich, Mr. Easy and Alaine. A tourist would have been forgiven for thinking that he/she had stumbled through a portal into a reggae sum fest in Montego Bay, what with a line-up of headliners that was almost exclusively Jamaican.* (Buddz is a US-born Bermudan, although his music is firmly planted – no pun intended – in Jamaica.)
After the strides that have been made in the local music industry in the past few years, the dearth of local talent – there were only Fojo, Jory and the Brutal Jammers band – at the festival should be seen as nothing less than an affront to the local performers working hard for recognition. It is to their credit that all the local performers gave a great account of themselves on stage. In particular, Jory seemed to have a well-established and very vocal fan base in the audience and he did not disappoint, making the most of the eight minutes that he had been allotted. His lyrical prowess seemed almost on par with that of Mr. Easy and maybe even Kiprich, and certainly, he delivered a high-energy performance that was appropriate to the occasion. Regrettably, the promised premiere of Fojo’s new music video at the festival never came off and the promoters did not see it fit to explain the omission.
Granted, it’s not unusual for music festivals to feature a lot of established foreign-based acts. (Bear in mind that I’m using the word ‘festival’ quite loosely here for the sake of argument – all things considered, the event was really nothing more than a glorified reggae concert.) In fact, it’s a common practice in many other territories, particularly the tourist destinations.
But at the same time, local talent – established and up-and-coming – is hardly ever shut out. And what is more, it stands to reason that any event that would seriously bill itself as a *G*U*Y*A*N*A* Music Festival should be used as a platform to give local talent much needed international exposure.
Between Third World and Alaine, the festival certainly skewed to a very large age range, but the same shrewdness was not applied to marketing the event to anyone beyond a reggae fan. Why weren’t there Chutney acts? Soca singers? Calypso crooners? Rappers? Or, even – dare I say it – any of those god-awful local metal bands that have been trying to drown us in angst? A real indictment of the festival was the Chutney Fire Fete that was held the very same night, featuring both local and foreign-based talent
The frustratingly long intervals between the last two acts aside, the organizers pulled everything off with admirable efficiency. That being said, clearly a lot more thought needs to go into the shaping of the Guyana Music Festival in order to make it a national event in more than just the name. The promoters of such an event cannot overlook our rich local talent, especially at this crucial point of their development.
*(And if the promoters insisted on overpopulating the bill with Jamaica’s finest, where the hell was the incredibly talented Jovi Rockwell?) (email@example.com)