Highlighting the Barbadian performers, announcers and deejays that were showcased at the recently concluded Barbados Reggae Festival
The 2023 Barbados Reggae Festival: Bad Like ‘90s Dancehall was the highlight of the weekend of April 28th to May 1st. Commencing with the Vintage Reggae Show on Friday April 28th at Kensington Oval, the vibes of the headlining reggae artists soothed the crowd both on the grounds and in the stands. This event set the pace for Reggae on The Hill at the Farley Hill National Park and Reggae Beach Party at Artistry Beach on April 30th and May 1st respectively.
Along with headlining reggae artists from our neighbouring island, Jamaica, Barbadian artists delivered passionate and riveting musical presentations, contributing to three nights of outstanding performances. Hosted by Admiral Nelson, the Vintage Reggae show saw grounds packed with scores of attendees in time for the first production of the evening by Barbadian artist Mike Grosvenor. Grosvenor’s execution of Let Me Be Your Friend among others disseminated a calming and loving atmosphere throughout the arena, causing the audience to sway in enjoyment. Taking the baton from Grosvenor, the next Barbadian artist to grace the stage was Wendy Alleyne. Alleyne’s elegant, soulful delivery displayed what 51 successful years as a reggae artist looks like. Performing hits from her 1977 Sunshine Soul Album like Standby Love, You Got To Have Understanding and Can’t Control My Emotions, Wendy Alleyne’s love for her craft was evident. Coupled with these powerful performances were intermittent sets by Bim’s finest deejays including: Alvin Toppin, Daddy Biggs, Mikey Dread & Shaddy, Dj Scorpion. These masterful disc jockeys energized the crowd between performances from Fab 5, Third World, Flourgon, with Daddy Fabian and Lil Rick hyping the already enthusiastic audience up for the final act of the night by Jamaican artist Maxi Priest.
Reggae On The Hill, the second event of the festival, hosted by Peter Coppin and Jamarr The Star, highlighted talented Bajan bands, including Rite Site of Red and Peach Bless and the Breaking Point Band, as well as 4-time music awardee David Kirton. With singers Casheda and Chalene Dottin offering impeccable backup vocals, complimenting songwriter and music producer Simon Pipe’s exemplary guitaring, and star drummer Juanita Clarke’s skills, David Kirton executed Cool Breezin’ and Green Camouflage. Lead vocalists Rhesa Garnes and Daniel Medford of Rite Side of Red offered first-class renditions of popular reggae songs, which was the catalyst for an evening-to-night of reggae magic. Joining Rite Side of Red on stage was dancehall and reggae artist LR (Lone Realness), who charged the national park with his popular songs Chargie and Serial. His dancing, vocals and lyricism left many picnic baskets forgotten as he sealed the performance with a bang, animating the audience for the next act. Peach Bless and the Breaking Point Band also delivered enlivening performances of the songs Ungrateful Heart and others, while the deejay line up of Bard International, Indian and Chris Gayle, Scott Leroc, Mikey Dread & Shaddy, Mastermind, Jerry Dan and Jiggy D perpetuated good vibes.
The culmination of the Reggae Festival was the Reggae Beach Party on May 1st. Even though the sun was setting around 6pm, Deejay Jagwa De Champ was lighting up the stage, entertaining the quickly-growing crowd. Followed swiftly by the team SurfRat and Menace, the early attendees were transported across centuries with music from the 90s straight to 2023. The first performance was by LeadPipe who seized the audience’s attention with Psycho. All eyes remained fixed on the stage as Saddis joined and later LR to deliver their song Sly. Succeeding these acts, Infamous, one of two hosts for the event, announced eleven-year-old Dj Zari. As Dj Zari skilfully transitioned from old dancehall to new dancehall and reggae tunes, the enthused crowd erupted into applause and screams. Dj Zari’s compelling stage presence and confidence amazed the audience, along with his knowledge of 90s tunes.
After deejay segments and a performance by Jamaican Louie Culture, hosts Infamous and Jordan English commanded the audience to turn their phone lights on in anticipation for the next performer. When Chiief Diin emerged, the crowd exploded into pandemonium at the sight of the Dangers singer. Performing an island favourite, 21 Passengers, he powered Artistry Beach. During Diin’s performance of Bad Mood, featured artist Idea appeared on stage, exhibiting his vocal prowess for the song’s chorus. Towards the end of his vocal presentation, Chief Diin introduced a UK artist “Suspect OTB” who used the remaining minutes to demonstrate his rapping talent. Full Klipp, Niqo Vybz and Gunner as well as Dj Ras helped to contribute to an evening of delirium and pleasure, stimulating the crowd for later performances by Jamaican artists Sossa, T.O.K, Byron Messia and Mad Cobra.
Big up all de Bajans each and every time! Wunna large!
Written by Irijah Alkins.