The Music Will Surely Live On, II, by Maurie Alioff

There is very little work on the island, and the tourist industry pays below-subsistence wages so it can afford to offer All-Inclusive vacations to tourists for whom “Jamaica” is like a virtual reality backdrop for their beach boozing. There they are on Long Bay in Negril bellowing out Marley’s “Everything’s gonna be all right.” Performers like Daps struggle through the fuckery and come out the other end, poised and singing sweetly. 

 

 

Referring to the 2014 MIRF, Richard Lafrance brings up another problem that can plague organizers. “Whether you like it or not,” he says, “a festival depends on the weather.”

Montreal went cold and damp during last year’s festival, which is usually blessed by sunny skies and warm nights. The Old Port didn’t warm up until the third day, the bad weather peaking during Saturday night’s dancehall music line-up. A deluge slammed the crowd when international dancehall star Sean Paul gave a supercharged performance. But in my vicinity, the harder the rain came down, the wilder drenched fans danced under umbrellas swinging overhead. 

Despite the wet and cold, the 2014 crowd enjoyed artists like silky-voiced I-Octane, who merges roots reggae and dancehall music, irreconcilable forms for some purists. Not a purist himself, I-Octane told me backstage, “Dancehall is inevitable, reggae music is inevitable.” Rejecting either would be like parents turning their backs on one of their children. 




I-Octane

As for the difference between performing at home in Jamaica, or in “foreign,” I-Octane (Byiome Muir), says that “It’s about the fans, but when you’re performing, it’s not about the fans. You know what I mean? It’s about you presenting.” Whoever is watching and listening, I-Octane’s focus is on mastering his own creative process. The deejay-singer, whose popularity on the island rivals runner Usain Bolt’s, is also up to his ears in business, acting as a spokesman for the cell phone company Digicel, Guinness, and the soft drink Busta.

Other major attractions in 2014 were hyperkinetic, mad whining QQ, (the 2014 hit track One Drop), Londoner Maxi Priest, Soca Queen Alison Hinds, reggae revival star Etana, and Marcia Griffiths, legendary member of the I-Threes, Bob Marley’s backup singers, and a versatile solo artist for years. Following her set, Griffiths received a plaque honouring her long career. (See Divas at the Montreal International Reggae Festival, online at Salon .ll.). 


Marcia Griffiths and the award



The 2014 fest closed with Luciano (born Jepther Washington McClymont), whom I’ve seen in different venues over the last couple of years and who’s probably the most generous of all roots performers. The man known as “The Messenger” balances between flamboyantly, wildly physical performance and seriously dread words of wisdom.

Luciano, like Bob Marley and most roots artists, sings mainly in Standard English with smatterings of Jamaican patois. Dancehall performers tend to rap and sing in deep patois. For some, that’s a mistake because it makes them less accessible to foreign audiences. Others, like dancehall deejay Lady G, says, “Patois is what keeps the whole sweetness of dancehall music. To English it out, it would lose its flavour.”


Luciano



The magic and charm of the Montreal International Reggae Festival are all about the many flavours of music it serves up, a Caribbean music that has been going strong since the early days of Calypso, Mento, Rocksteady and Ska.

“There's a lot more to come,” says Lady G, “a lot more good things to come. Just like anything else, you can have good and bad. The bad is going to get lost somewhere. The good is going to prevail. Because good is always over evil. It's just one of those things. Every day you have a new artist from the reggae or the dance hall fraternity. It can never stop. Music will surely live on.”


For Part I, please follow this link

© Maurie Alioff, 2015

Maurie Alioff writes about movies for publications off and online, including Canadian Cinematographer, Take One, POV Magazine, Salon .ll.and The New York Times, and is a screenwriter currently collaborating on a documentary featuring Bob Marley’s granddaughter. Alioff is also researching other Jamaica-related projects including a magical-realist crime story drawing on stories he hears on the island. 

Page 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12

More articles

The Goodtime Girl, by Tess Fragoulis

The sights and sounds of Smyrna, Piraeus and Athens are brought to life by Fragoulis’s finely crafted prose. The cast of characters – manghas, manghissas, and the girls in Kyria Effie’s brothel, are fully realized. The result is a novel which is as tough and intelligent as Kivelli herself.

Review by Margaret Goldik

 

The Embattled Life and Early Death of Thomas D’Arcy McGee, by Linda Leith

The legacy of 11 September, the rise of radical Islam, and the persistence of revolutionary elements in some of Canada’s ethnic groups is likely to call forth the McGee who took an uncompromising stand against militants within his own ethnoreligious community, who challenged self-righteous political and religions certainties, and who argued for a broad, tolerant, decent, open-minded, and compassionate society in which people did not push others off the path.

Mind the Gap, part I, by Kenneth Radu

The old trains and their stations are marvels of intent and mystery. No wonder so many films make use of them.

King's Cross-St. Pancras, London

 

The Literary Life (Part 2 of 2)

Writers are always complaining they don’t have enough time to write, even those who are “full-time” writers. I used to find that puzzling, but now that I have joined the ranks of full-time writers, I understand better. The question, “When do you write?” is not a silly question. This is why writers are careful to broach it only with close friends. The answer has something to do with what I write – and a lot to do with whether I write at all.

8-Logos-bottom