The final night of a three-night combo Caribbean concert series at the Barclay Center proved the main attraction with reggae acts dominating the much-hyped, unprecedented Caribbean Fever Irie Jamboree Music Festival.
Featuring Shabba Ranks, Damian Marley, Capleton, I-Octane, Lady Saw and Mr. Easy the Sunday night dancehall showcase returned the Irie Jam promoters to Brooklyn where they first promoted pre-Labor Day reggae concerts but failed to harness support years earlier.
Instead of disbanding the idea of a pre-holiday showcase, the Irie team moved their stage to Queens where reggae fans returned success and massive support.
Instead of an outdoor, day-long presentation, this year the organizers teamed with promoter Dahved Levy for a Haitian/calypso-soca/reggae billing that opened with Wyclef Jean, Kasav, Tabou Combo and Djarkout. The second night – Carnival Saturday – promised, Bunji Garlin, Fay Ann Lyons, Edwin Yearwood, Allison Hinds, Iwer George and the return of Super Blue.
But to the disappointment of approximately 1,500 patrons, the former Blue Boy failed to make an appearance.
During an exclusive radio interview with Levy, the legendary soca monarch gave assurances that he would return to Brooklyn after a 10-year absence from the scene. In the interview, Super Blue dismissed claims that he had visa problems or might still be drug dependent from substance abuse.
Throughout the lengthy radio promotion, Levy detailed that it was Super Blue’s wish to perform in Brooklyn. According to Levy, Super Blue pursued him by notifying Ian “The Goose” Eligan that he wanted to join the already published line-up of soca acts.
Caribbean newspapers picked up the lead and published items and stories marking the return of T&T’s seven-time soca monarch and nine-time Road March champion.
“I was very disappointed,” Louise John, a patron said. “They didn’t even tell us that he (Super Blue) was not going to perform. The whole show was not very good anyway.”
At the end of each night, combined figures embarrassingly revealed that less than 10,000 patrons entered the 19,000-seat venue.
The night dancehall performers staged reggae -- the largest showing with less than 5,000 in attendance represented twice the figures reported on the preceding nights.
“Lady Saw was amaaaziiing!” Yvette Noel stated. “But every single act was dynamic,” she added.
It was ambitious of Caribbean promoters to book the newest and most sought-after concert venue in New York City. With no record of ever filling any comparable showplace, it was an expensive gamble that the promoters will probably not repeat anytime soon in Brooklyn.
Simultaneous fetes and soca concerts throughout Brooklyn competed to snag crowds at the Brooklyn Museum, the Barclay Center and numerous mas’ camps. However, inside one hot-spot at Utica Ave, an unscheduled appearance by Lord Nelson probably garnered more revelry and patriotic pride on the eve of Trinidad & Tobago’s 51st anniversary of independence than the combined showcases. Cheers and applause greeted the beloved, veteran performer when his presence was announced. Patrons to the “Icons of Soca” calypso and soca festival and tent summoned an onstage appearance which was prompted by a chorus of his hit song “Let’s Have A Good Good Time.” Nelson seemed back in time and element as he repeated the lyrical message that he hoped would carry through to Labor Day. The backing band to Lanny K, Young Poser, and more than 18 acts billed for the final night of the tent previewed a rhythm that forced Nelson to reprise his tune. With hand-clapping echoes from patrons who seemed to relish the old time melody and message, Nelson struck a chord that forced patrons onto their feet and into a nostalgic groove.
Crowds arrived early to the Paradise Ballroom in order to see and hear performances by Calypso Rose, Lord Funny, Brown Boy, Count Robin, Becket, Natasha Wilson, Dice of Dominica, Fatman George of Grenada and Dancemaster of Jamaica and others.
Justice Sylvia Ash and State Senator Kevin Parker seemed to set aside laws and politics in order to revel with Brooklyn part-goers.
At midnight, a toast to T&T’s milestone 51st anniversary of independence capped the annual treat with nationals waving scarves, flags and anything red, black and white.
Everyone seemed to have had a good, good time.