Reggae rarely gets the attention from publications invested in Eastern Caribbean carnival and Labor Day revelry.
Absent here from many for more than a month with dedicated promotional of the spectacle, photos and features already familiar to fans and masqueraders proliferate with negation of the Jamaican quotient that comprise Caribbean heritage and culture.
However, despite the month-long hype of masqueraders and soca / calypso traditions prior to the actual holiday weekend, the Jamaican music genre acclaimed as reggae perseveres and this year headlines concerts and showcases on an island, in a Queens park, on a Brooklyn beach and at the Brooklyn Museum.
A “One Caribbean, One People, One Voice,” theme prevails this year with the 49th annual West Indian American Day Carnival Association’s celebration and holds firm with diversity highlighted by events slated at the rear of the landmark carnival showplace in Brooklyn, the Brooklyn Museum.
There, “A Funky Reggae Party” will be the most expensive ticket on the four-night concert series booked by WIADCA to kickoff Caribbean cultural pride during the days leading to Labor Day.
Returning after token appearances when reggae music was embraced by major record companies, commercial radio stations and an enthusiastic public that banked on Shabba Ranks, Musical Youth, Bob Marley, UB40, Lieutenant Stitchie and other reggae recording artists, the return of a night devoted to Jamaican music seems appropriate and long overdue.
The most consistent Caribbean music to chart on Billboard Magazine’s listings of achieving music specialists will open the festivities on Sept. 1 to present the island’s rich cultural beat and inject variety to the nightly presentations.
Throughout the years, reggae has been an outcast to the WIADCA weekend revelry. Like Haitian — kompa, kreyol and zouk — music, reggae has had to yield or wait for Labor Day to shine.
Perhaps credit should go to African-American President William Howard who might not be bound to loyalties to the eastern Caribbean or Jamaica due to his heritage.
Dedicated to the mission WIADCA has always promoted but not always executed, Howard’s reign will highlight a legacy of diversity and inclusion.
Throughout the years, former WIADCA committee members of Jamaican heritage have long maintained that a bias persists against any conversation for inclusion of reggae music.
Arguing against its legitimacy as a traditional carnival genre, reggae although the most popular Caribbean music played on radio and television ; sampled by pop and hip-hop artists, the music of the third largest island in the Caribbean has been an exclusionary feature to the WIADCA feature separating eastern Caribbean customs from those boasted in the western region.
Late to the carnival pageantry highlighted by soca and calypso music, Jamaica regards reggae as the national music with carnival a marginal sideshow and temporary fete marked during Easter.
One might have consider the exclusion here an old practice since Jamaicans and reggae music lovers virtually forced their music into the holiday weekend lineup by placing reggae-blaring, sound-systems on the Eastern Parkway sidewalks.
Dating back to two decades ago when home and apartment owners wanting to hear reggae music protested by flooding the sidewalks with loud reggae music that often disrupted the flow of the dominant beat, deterrents persisted among official promoters.
At that time, Jamaican radio deejays from Medgar Evers radio station also broadcasted from the Crown heights sidewalks and hosted marathon reggae programming on Labor Day.
Since then, the Brooklyn carnival scene has evolved to include a cornucopia of reggae and virtually every Caribbean music genre.
Revelers promoting the roots music have been prevalent on trucks with Beenie Man, Damian Marley and others leading a procession of black, gold and green banner wavers.
With this year’s “Funky Reggae Party” offering Third World, Luciano, Dajah, Derrick Barnett and Statement Band, Chris Martin and Romain Virgo — strongholds of the genre — another tempo will again set the tone for reggae revelry.
This is not the first outing at the Brooklyn Museum, a reggae night made a brief appearance during the early 90s with British reggae bands Steel Pulse and Aswad as well as deejay Shabba Ranks, Little Vicious and others.
After those periods, Clifton “Specialist” Dillon, then manager of two-time, Grammy-winning, dancehall deejay Shabba Ranks and Patra decided to hold an alternative concert in Brooklyn in order to accommodate reggae fans during the weekend.
The following year, 23 years ago, Irie Jam Radio promoters capitalized on the void and launched an Irie Jamboree at Roy Wilkins Park in Queens during the Labor Day weekend.
An instant crowd pleaser, the counter-concert attracted thousands to the Queens recreational area.
Each year since, the crowds have swelled and has become must-attend, reggae feast anticipated by irie music lovers now accustomed to the park event established for the reggae niche market.
This year, Irie Jamboree is celebrating two decades plus three with a lineup that headlines Sizzla Kalonji and Anthony B.
Slated for Sept. 4, the annual event is sure to attract large numbers of reggae aficionados who believe reggae music is as much Caribbean as the predominant Eastern Caribbean carnival jump up.
On that same date, Capleton, Taurus Riley, New Kingston and Lyrical will sound the beat at the Ford Amphitheater at Coney Island boardwalk.
Trinidad & Tobago’s Machel Montano will add soca rhythms to that bill.
In addition reggae will be integrated with other beats when HOT 97 present “On Da Reggae and Soca Tip 2016” on Governor’s Island.
Dancehall legends Shaggy and Vegas are slated to tout the JA sound.
Bunji Garlin is also featured to add soca sounds on Sept. 2.
At that island venue, Kaci Fennell, Miss Jamaica Universe 2014 will introduce Ting’s Sir Bolt beverage, a new thirst quencher launched to celebrate the indomitable, three-time Olympic feats accomplished by Usain Bolt during the recent Rio 2016 games in Brazil.
The beauty queen has been designated the new “Face of Jamaica” and brand ambassador for Ting and in addition to touting the virtues of drinking the thirst-quenching, grapefruit beverage she will also exalt the recent victories executed by the ‘fastest man on earth.”
Tasted and tested at Olympic Watch parties throughout the tri-state area, Carla Hollingsworth, Ting Expert Marketing Manager said the drink offers “the best taste of Jamaican pride worldwide.”
Following the Governor’s Island fete, on Monday, the petite pageant pixie will walk the route along Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn to display her nation’s pride.
The rain or shine event offers ferry service departing from the Battery Maritime Building. located at 10 South St., adjacent to the Staten Island Ferry in Lower Manhattan. The ferry terminal is accessible as follows:
By Subway / 1 to South Ferry station / 4, 5 to Bowling Green station / R to Whitehall St. station.
Ticket includes round trip ferry service.
There will be continuous and frequent ferry service starting at 5 pm.
Catch You On The Inside!