Rebel Salute, Jamaica’s first for the year and probably the most conscious reggae concert series annually, will mark its 25th showcase on Jan. 12 and 13 on a plantation in the parish of St. Ann.
The brainchild of dancehall sing-jay Tony Rebel, it was initiated in 1994 as a birthday celebration for himself and friends to commemorate his birth on Jan. 15.
“At the beginning of Rebel Salute, 1994, it was just a commemoration of my earth day. I was not thinking about being here 25 years later,” Rebel recently explained.
The first event invited like-minded colleagues who wanted to celebrate music and the island without using drugs and artificial stimulants.
“Rebel Salute treats patrons to a drug-free, violence-free, alcohol-free and meat-free, family-oriented environment,” Wikipedia states.
“Food vendors serve a strict Jamaican vegetarian menu which is complimented by a diet of cultural roots rap from reggae’s finest.”
“It is one of Jamaica’s biggest music festivals, known for its focus on roots and conscious music.”
Rebel recalled people being in tears when Garnett Silk performed at the first year’s offering despite the rain. He said throughout the years the show has grown from strength to strength.
“Rebel Salute is a broader section of our culture. It has set the precedence for a lot of things,” Rebel said. “We try to get the minds of our people in a positive way.”
In addition to presenting a stellar lineup of artists, last year the festival introduced the Herb Curb a section dedicated to display information on ganja uses.
“Rebel Salute has played a critical role in the two years of marijuana decriminalization,” Delano Seivright, director of the Cannabis Licensing Authority said during a recent launch in Kingston.
He added that the annual presentation has annually been “holding on the right track when it comes to ganja in our country and how ganja is accepted.”
Next week, “the Herb Curb will again feature an array of exhibits, herb practitioners, educators, speakers and medical professionals who explore the sacramental to the medicinal benefits of marijuana,” a release stated.
There will also be a designated smoking lounge, complete with seating and live video feed from the main stage.
Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange, Jamaica’s Minister of Culture stated that not many festivals have survived as long as Rebel Salute.
“Can you believe it’s 25 years already? Twenty-five years of awesome entertainment, 25 years of clean, family friendly Jamaican music, 25 years of welcoming the people ...25 years of education about the benefit of the good herb,” Grange said.
Throughout the years, Jamaicans have had successful long-running concerts in every season. With Reggae Sunsplash the model that attracted music lovers to revel on the island during the summer months in the 1980s, the Air Jamaica Jazz & Blues Festival proved alluring to fans of the airline, island and the myriad music genres showcased nightly on its November and January billings throughout the 90s and early 20s.
Sting, a Boxing Day music treat also appeased dancehall fans the day after Christmas providing marathon entertainment and trailor-loads of patrons from the north who sought holiday fun and reprieve from winter blues.
In addition, a year-end concert hosted by the family of Denroy Morgan at the Goodyear Oval in Morant Bay, annually enticed thousands for a final music event in Jamaica that attracted some of the top entertainers in the heydays of dancehall music.
All those concerts are now history.
This year’s showcase will feature Queen Ifrica, J.C. Lodge, gospel artist Glacia and Rebel, the celebrant among conscious reggae / dancehall talents.