Anyone who attended this year’s JAMBANA One World Festival is likely to describe it as very satisfying from start to finish. This two-day outdoor Reggae music festival event had solid attendance, great food, and live performance by many premiere artists, DJs and MC’s. Jambana, a Jones & Jones Production, featured on day one (Sunday, August 3rd)The Mighty Sparrow, Marcia Griffiths, JC Lodge, Leroy Gibbon, Exco Levi, Jully Black, Gerry Thompson, Mountain Edge Roots & Culture Band and more. Monday’s Day 2 Jambana featured Real 3D (Dance Crew), Mountain Edge, Omri Brown, Jay Harmony, Majestic Warriors, Miss P (England), Long Shen Dao, Nkrumah, Akustic, Blakk Rasta, Steele, and Cocoa Tea.
Sunday’s Day 1 event was blessed by perfect weather from start to finish, and there was a steady turnout from the time the Markham Fair Ground gates opened one hour after schedule. I’ll big up some of the performances I remember seeing, but honestly, there were so many things to do at Jambana atop my DJ duties that I had little time and energy to take any photographs on this first day.
Canada’s Jully Black get’s top ratings from me – she looked extremely confident and sexy, delivering a solid performance and her R&B styles were well accepted by the early crowd that had turned out. I’ll say the same for JC Lodge, it seemed like just business for this veteran performer who I remember at one time yelling back at fans in the crowd who couldn’t wait for her classic “Telephone Love” to be performed, not to “rush” her.
I can’t say much about the Mighty Sparrow, I stayed and chilled back stage during their performance, but from what I could see it seemed more of a repeat of last year, with less impact this time around. Since I’ve seen Leroy Gibbon many times, I also chilled backstage and listened to his show, which for the most part, seemed right on.
Exco Levi’s show has now reached perfection, and he eased through Jambana with one of the better shows I’ve seen him do to date. Exco is one of our best, but the irony still is that he is better received abroad than here in his home town, and his songs are better known there than here. Still, the audience sang with him as he went through his library of well crafted songs with clear precise lyrical deliveries with every tune performed.
Headliner Marcia Griffiths was in her element. She never fails to please, and Jambana would be nothing different as she delivered another spectacular for her any adoring fans that were there mostly to see her perform. She was also honored for her achievements,as the show was paused for a short multi-media presentation featuring some of her career hilights (hence the red chair on stage). Marcia was fairly hyped back stage, and was looking for alcohol just minutes prior to performing – I remember telling her with a smile after she had gotten her alcohol, that I thought it was her to consume, when in fact, she had been requesting alcohol not to drink, but to sterilize the stage microphone that everyone else had been using before putting it to her lips.
Monday’s crowd was decent, and despite periods of hard rain occasional lightening and thunder, the event was blessed, as the powers above cooperated, and thousands of people would be in their glory as they witnessed flawless performances by many premier local, Jamaican and international artists. Big ups go to Real 3D, Omri Brown, Jay Harmony, Majestic Warriors and Mountain Edge for solid performances. I admit going into Jambana I knew nothing about England’s Miss P, but I will say without a doubt that she totally flopped during her time on stage, and was not understood or received well by a very patient and tolerant Jambana crowd who came just short of booing her for her extended performance.
On a brighter note, China’s Long Shen Dao was a pleasure to experience (they weren’t bad considering…), and so was Blakk Rasta from Ghana. Akustic and Nkrumah has always been two of my favorite performing artists, and they didn’t let down the crowd either, delivering excellent shows with precision timing and clear vocals.
Steele is Canada’s ultimate showman. What a show! I had seen Steele back stage and while bigging him up and wishing him good luck on his how, I caution him that he’s also under pressure of not performing the same show as last year. Well, what can I say, Steel tore up the Jambana crowd, and performed the best show he’s done to date to the delight of an audience who had now been peaking in anticipation as the sun had gone down and the night was reaching it’s climatic lose. Big up Naggo Morris, who accompanied Steele and added some good humor to the show-stealing performance.
Now it was time for Cocoa Tea, and after Steele exited the stage, I had my last turn to spin on the one’s and two’s some of the greatest reggae classics appropriate to move the Jambana crowd into an epiphany. Now it was time for show headliner, Cocoa Tea. The crowd could hardly wait. Cocoa Tea performed admirably, it’s amazing how this artist has aged so gracefully, and his voice so flawless sounding exactly as it does on in the recording studios where he made his seemingly endless series of classic hits. Cocoa Tea loves performing for his Toronto massive, and at one point almost went too far by starting a near stampede when he had irresponsibly encouraged the crowd to break down the gates and barriers so that he would be close to them while performing.
If this had been a different venue and audience, security would not have been able to handle that situation. Moments later, I laughed when the well behaved crowd, in response to his numerous invitations, replied several times with a loud “nooo!”, but that’s then Cocoa Tea did the next best thing by stepping off the stage and into the dugout area on ground level in front of it where now he could directly greet and mingle with his fans. This continued for at least five or six minutes, as Cocoa Tea walked and sang and greeted fans spanning the width of the entire front row. He didn’t want to miss greeting a single person, and he could’ve entered the core of the audience there, he would have. Big up Cocoa Tea, a great show to end the night, even though it was the exact same show as he did just a few weeks back at the Sound Academy.
Overall, Jambana was a success, and I say this in part because Jones and Jones promotions did flip the script and create a two day event out of one, while bumping up slightly the admission price at the same time. It was a gutsy gamble but a good concept in the end would prevail and now there is money in the bank for next year’s event which I predict may double in attendance, the reward for a smoothly executed promotion. Last year’s nightmarish parking issues and traffic congestion problems while entering and exiting the venue did not return this year, as authorities and organizers were better prepared to deal with these issues based on their experience from the year prior. Plus, parking was free, and that was a big bonus helping to justify the increased gate price. When all was said and done, Jambana was not only a success, but it was also a necessary relief for those who love Reggae first and were here for a very Soca dominated Carnival weekend.
P.S. Big up the people who big you up and try stab u in the back same time…Oliver Samuels and Allan Jones. Oliver and I don’t like each other, that’s clear. He not only insulted me in front of the entire Jambana crowd, but he insulted every Jamaican in the house by unprofessionally instructing my to cut off the Jamaican National Anthem, which I had selected during a DJ set that was rocking the crowd. He, while staring at me, stated that he did not “know what was going on over there”, and that he did not want to tolerate the National Anthem being “played so frivolously”. At that moment I knew that the two of us were no longer on the same Jambana team, as his antics were truly unprofessional, and after he tried getting forwards off his move but got none. I confronted him back stage afterwards and told him without skinning teeth that I did not think much of him trying to get a fa-ward off me. He laughed, probably nervous because it was just him and me and I had dared to step to him privately and stand up for myself which I’m sure many people don’t do and should do.
I did not get an apology, and when I saw him and his congregation at Beleeny’s Restaurant the same night, he quickly exited from the venue, obviously aware of the tension between us. There was no crowd there anyway, just a few people eating dinner, so the concept of Ron Nelson, Delroy G and another radio DJ as the entertainment lineup had flopped for a second consecutive night for a promoter who had put all his eggs in a G98 basket – but that’s another story. The next day at Jamabana, it took three times for the two of us(me and Oliver) to finally acknowledge each other and utter greetings. The only words out of his mouth was “Peace”. This was not an apology, and I didn’t expect one from a man that obviously had know idea about my history of retaliating to anyone who tries shitting on me. Oliver though, loves to clash himself, and attempted to deliver another blow when he was supposed to introduce me as the DJ for the next set and instead said Delroy G’s name. Delroy would later approach me and apologized for Oliver’s ‘mistake’, congratulating himself for smoothly covering it up by taking the mic and then introducing me himself.
Then finally, there was Jambana MC and CHRY show host Alan Jones, who took a moment to call me to the stage front to big me up while not allowing me to take the mic. Not only did he mistakenly state that my radio show is heard on 97.7 (CHIN FM is on 100.7 ), but he added insult on top by referring to me as someone who says things that “people don’t like” on the radio, c’mon now Mr. Jones, that was not called for, and to make matters worse, Jamabana or no Jambana, you work at CHRY and I work at CHIN, so watch what you say about a fellow radio personality. I will be returning the favour in the future somewhere somehow! That’s an old trick – insulting me and complementing me at the same time, while I had to stand there mic-less. If there was good intent on this moment, it sure came off the wrong way, when you look bank and examine what was said.
When I took the mic from Mr Jones, I could have used it in a completely different retaliatory fashion. Instead, I played good sport, and bigged up my mom (in the audience), before proceeding to playing music for the crowd who really put up with too MC ego stroking throughout the event. Next year, less MC’s, we don’t need so many of them – what we do need is what the people want, more music, let the DJ’s play more and MC’s talk less at Jambana 2015 and then the crowd will be truly entertained. It was a great event overall, and very ambitious. See ya next year Jamabana, where hopefully it will even be bigger, better! Enjoy the Pics below.