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Despite A Few Glitches, It Was Still IRIE At Jamboree 2009

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It was lucky seven for the promoters of Irie Jamboree on Labor Day weekend 2009 who hit the jackpot with yet another successful staging of the much anticipated annual event. A new venue and a recession did not dampen spirits, as throngs of people in the thousands descended on the venue at York College in Queens, NY; this on a beautiful Labor Day Sunday and against the backdrop of a crisp breeze and a clear sky.

Sporting the look and feel of a major calendar event,  Irie Jamboree promised much and delivered even more. In fact it had what one could describe as a down home feel, an air of familiarity and an “I am here to stay” energy and aura that was undeniable.

The vintage acts…the heart of the show commanded the stage and when it was all over, lips were abuzz and tongues wagged positive vibes all over the tri-state.  

The “Give The Youth A Buss” segment which included Tasha T, Humble and Steele from Toronto, Troublesum and New York’s own Barbee kicked off an afternoon of top-notch performances. The “Roots and Culture” segment which include reggae’s fastest rising star Gramps Morgan of the famed Denroy Morgan stock, now flying briefly solo from the family bred group “Morgan Heritage” served up a scintillating set, blazing tracks from his new album “2 Sides Of My Heart.” Just completed touring with India Arie and John Legend, he proved why he’s standing heads and shoulders over his peers; belting out hits like  “Wash The Tears,” “Therapy” and “Don’t Cry For Jamaica.” 

Bush Man came next to the stage and it was clear that New York was hungry and ready for him: Jah Sent His Light out for Me, Call the Hearse, Fire Bun a Weak Heart were just a taste of what this conscious artist had to deliver and what a memorable performance it was. In fact many patrons left the ‘Complex’ saying he had stolen the show.

A hot stage was set for one of the night’s honorees the indomitable Shinehead. Known as the dancehall/hip-hop master, he effortlessly moving from one style to the next, taking fans on a musical stroll with Jamaican In New York, Never been in Love, Promise I Can’t Keep and Billie Jean which reminded the audience very quickly what took him to the top.

Reggae Grammy winner and Platinum Star Sean Paul brought what he thought was his ‘A Game’ to Queens but the “Dutty One” despite an offering that included favorites like Get Busy, Like Glue, Pepperpot, Right Temperature and songs from his new album Imperial Blaze, failed to connect with fans.  

To celebrate its 7th year, Irie Jamboree paid homage to reggae and dancehall legends Ken Boothe, Freddy “Big Ship” McGregor, Shinehead, Sugar Minott, Pinchers, Daddy Lizard, Flourgon and the lone rose amongst the thorns, Lady G. Of course these trailblazers did not disappoint even though time may have been the enemy to some performances. In the early part of the show Ken Boothe was superb, Pinchers who followed Shinehead had the crowd eating out of hands; Again, Bandelero, and other hits worked them to a frenzy. 

Mr. Vegas who is currently enjoying tremendous success with his monster hit “I Am Blessed” was scheduled to perform but choose not to grace the stage due to time-management issues which left him an unhappy camper and the audience robbed of a great entertainment.

According to Irie Jamboree Executive Director Bobby Clarke, “Our theme for this year’s event was the history of the music and as such we wanted to showcase as many performers from each era. Unfortunately we ran short of time and some of the acts got rushed at the end but for the most part, patrons had a whale of a time. The new venue worked for us and patrons loved the facts that they had ample parking which was a major issue for them at Roy Wilkins Park” he said.

Assassin who performed in the dancehall segment worked a strong set and amongst the guys, Spice was in fine form, bringing the house down with a hint of Rampin Shop, a tease no less, as the “Family friendly show,” enforced the no slackness rule. Dancehall rising stars Black Ryno and Jah Vinci also connected well with the younger crowd.

Almost stealing the show but for the enemy of time were the Royal Stable mates of Flames Production headed up by the elder Culture Statesman and leader of the crew Tony Rebel and the Queen herself Ifrika. The Rebel could only grace the stage for a few songs but had the crowd in the short but hard hitting set, eating out of his hands.

Calling on the Queen to a much anticipated performance, she roared onstage like the lioness she is. Dressed regally with a matching hat to boot she treated the crowd to hits from her new album, and old favorites like “Below the Waist” which drew  a quick encore from the crowd, “Keep it to yourself,” and the hard–hitting but controversial song “Daddy” in English and the impressive Spanish version, demonstrating her immense talents. 

The curtain came down on yet another successful staging of Irie Jamboree with the Big Ship Family – Freddy McGregor, Chino & Laden – followed by Tarrus Riley joined by Konshens on the hit single “Good Girl Gone Bad” closed the show.

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Written by jamarch