The 19th Jamaican Jazz and Blues festival staged in the multi-purpose Greenfield Stadium in Trelawney outside of Montego Bay on 29th January was met with very high expectations from music lovers who had travelled from not just from towns and villages in Jamaica, nearby Caribbean Islands but from North and South America as well.
Jamaica has many visitor attractions that you can enjoy throughout the year but reggae sits at the heart of the music scene. Almost every night of the year, reggae creeps from every bar, restaurant and club until it seeps into you. But at a certain time of the year, Jamaica attracts some of the biggest music stars in the world to the island for a few fun-filled days. The Jazz and Blues Festival is such an event.
The three-night celebration is not just about Jazz and Blues. There is a diverse lineup of artists and variety of music to please different tastes from young and old. The stadium, which accommodates thirty thousand people with a large football pitch, turned into an open party with a big stage surrounded by two huge screens. The marketplace, selling clothing, bags, paintings and crafts along with food booths in one end and a stand selling helicopter rides to luxury booths offering drinks and foods to wealthy Jamaicans who got VIP passes on the other side makes it a fun place for everyone.
Every night had a different flavour. The performance of reggae performers such as Errol Dunkley and Judy Mowatt kicked off the festival in glorious style with traditional Jamaican music followed by a special tribute to legendary Jamaican singer, John Holt. On the first night, the crowd was smaller and I could see more Jamaicans dressed in traditional outfits with dreadlocked hair. I truly enjoyed the reggae music, which was very deep and smooth, full of spiritual expressions.
The second night was rainy and a bit chilly, but it did not stop the larger crowd filling the stadium. There were more trendy and well-dressed people who were joining the party. Arturo Tappin, a smooth jazz saxophonist from Barbados, cheered up the crowd through his entertaining performance, followed by a stunning song by Simona, a 10-year-old Jamaican girl. After a long wait, the star of the festival, Mariah Carey, appeared on stage. She displayed an emotional performance but disappointed her fans by pausing too often. Her video clips were playing in the background and she was accused of poor lip-synching performances.
The final night offered temperate weather. The energy gathered momentum in the crowd as they were expecting high-calibre performances from their favorite musicians. One of the most unforgettable highlights of the festival was when Charlie Wilson came on stage, applauded continuously by the passionate crowd. The 62 years old American singer displayed an extraordinary energetic variety of performances.
Another highlight of the night was the smooth voice of Peter Cetra which lingered in the air. His sincere vocal was full of the expressions of life, love and hope. This was my first reggae festival: it won’t be my last.
For more about Jamaica, http://www.visitjamaica.com. Details aren’t available for next year’s Jazz and Blues Festival yet but, as one of the highlights of the Jamaican year, it sells out fast so if you plan on going, book as soon as details become available.
Reza stayed in Hyatt Zilara Rose Hall near Montego Bay. Kenwood Travel is offering a seven-night, all-inclusive package at Hyatt Zilara Rose Hall (http://rosehall.ziva.hyatt.com). Prices would be based on two adults and includes return scheduled flights with Virgin Atlantic from London Gatwick. For more information, visit www.kenwoodtravel.com.