Friday, March 19, 2010

Dancehall's Past, Present And Future Fuse At JARIA Concert

Dancehall's future, present and past rhymed in front of a stone-carved theatre on Wednesday with performances by Elephant Man, U-Roy, Chino, I-Octane and others.

Mid-set, a sweating Elephant took off his baby-blue jacket, elephant chain and shoes then danced. The thick crowd at the Edna Manley College in Kingston mimicked his spontaneous moves to hits including ‘Gully Creeper’, ‘Pon Di River’, ‘Dancehall Nice’, and ‘No Junju No Deh Deh’.

The concert -- dancehall and alternative -- was part of the Reggae Month celebrations by the Jamaica Reggae Industry Association (JARIA).

Elephant Man, famous for his energy, eventually put the crowd in dance mode. "We are at dance school so everybody put yuh hand in the air," stated Elephant Man. His performance was not entirely hyperactive since it included credible renditions of R&B classics including Blueberry Hill, Cupid and Stand by Me. "Ladies don't look into my eyes or you will fall in love," declared the deejay during his set.

The concert's subtext highlighted the legacy of dancehall. It was the final in a series of four weekly concerts produced by JARIA showcasing the development of Jamaican music since Independence.

"Wake the town and tell the people," toasted U-Roy, dancehall's progenitor who performed his classics much to the enjoyment of the crowd. "Shake what you mama gave you babe."

U-Roy didn't have to move on stage -- he moved the crowd "Chika bow, chika bow, chika bow wow wow," deejayed U-Roy with his hand in a slow wave, as a vocalist sang, 'I'm going to take you to the ball tonight'.

"I made these songs some 40 years ago and they are still going good. Jah bless," stated U-Roy. "I had not the slightest idea that when I said these things that I would have got awards for it."

U-Roy started to deejay before the term was invented. In the 60s, he introduced songs on King Tubby's sound system with a creative blend of rhythm and melody that later led to his own recordings.

Chino McGregor, new school dancehall artiste, skipped on stage and performed his single, Protected. The song's lyrics were delivered in double-time which increased its intensity above the crash and boom of the band. "Dem seh mi bus because me ride off of the boss name, but when me did a bus me neva advertise me las' name," deejayed Chino alluding to his father Freddie McGregor, a respected reggae singer. Chino also sang Never Change and Woman Pon Your Head.

Deejay I-Octane also shook the crowd with his hits Sell Out the Ghetto Youth, Mama Alone and Mi Lose a Friend. The audience swayed to the movement of I-Octane's locks, and completed his phrases as the stage-lights shone in the colours of Rastafari.

The concert also had performances by Lady G, Laden, Lust, General Degree and Aidonia. Rising Dancehall and alternative artistes who performed included deejay and rapper Pyramid, singer JC, singer Oneil Peart, rock band Downstairs, reggae rocker Masika, Jason Worton and deejay Black Suede.

Source: Steven Jackson, The Observer

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