The current coronavirus pandemic has forced many promoters around the world to get innovative. Many popular shows in Jamaica, like Reggae Sumfest and the Jamaica Festival Song Competition, have followed suit and added their own special touch. This will also be the case for the organizers of Rebel Salute. The show’s organizers, which is usually a two-day reggae festival, have officially announced that their show will go virtual as well.
The Jamaica Observer spoke with the promoter of the event, veteran reggae aritste Tony Rebel. He said the last thing he wanted was that the show endangered the lives of fans. The virtual version of the show will take place on January 15 and 16.
“Rebel Salute is all about safety. So given the prevailing conditions this year, and not wanting to put fans in any further harm than what they are already facing, we have decided to go virtual. The truth is this is something we have been doing over the years,” he said.
He added that he was comfortable with the virtual space, having learned how to adjust. “Fans here at home and indeed all over the world have always been able to catch a live stream on some platform for a number of years, just like those who have joined us inside the various venues, which have played home to the festival. So we are really familiar with the virtual space and will be doing that for the Rebel Salute family this year,” he continued.
Rebel also chose not to give away too much of what to expect this year. He did say, though, that it would be a special edition. He also briefly described the upcoming show as a “docu-series.”
“There will be live performances, but that is all I’m willing to say at this time. The festival will be streamed on the major social media platforms and we are also in negotiations with an entity, so as soon as we conclude those discussions we will make it known,” he added.
The show has been held for 28 years and started as Rebel’s birthday celebration but has grown into a massive two-night event in St Ann. He also revealed that many of the people who come to the show are from overseas. They account for about 49 percent of the show’s patronage. Several dancehall and reggae veterans have performed over the years, like Beres Hammond, Steel Pulse, Toots and the Maytals, Sanchez, and Beenie Man, to name a few.
Rebel Salute also created history when it became the first music festival to be granted an exemption under the amendment to the Dangerous Drugs Act. Patrons were able to have small amounts of marijuana as part of their religious sacrament.