Gilkes: Reggae On The Beach could be tempered

Despite the economic woes in Barbados, thousands of fans still turned out for this year’s Digicel Reggae Festival.

That’s the word from the organizers FAS Entertainment, who have also disclosed that the format of the festival is being revisited, in particular the Reggae Beach Party, which was the subject of some criticism this year for its lewdness.

Digicel Reggae Festival logos
Digicel Reggae Festival logos

Director Al Gilkes said while this year’s festival was a tremendous success with some of the largest numbers attending the Digicel Vintage Reggae and Digicel Reggae On The Hill, producers might need to “temper” the beach event.

Reggae On The Beach is and has always been intended to be what is known in Jamaica parlance as dancehall, and what happened at Reggae On The Beach is nothing unusual in that genre of music. That is what happens in dancehall in Jamaica. So when you book a dancehall artist or act, that is what you are going to get. To revisit it means that we will have to close it down all together . . . . I think what might need to be done is temper it with a little more maturity,” he told the media on Sunday at the culmination of the final event of the season, Digicel Reggae On The Hill at the Farley Hill National Park in St Peter.

“In other words, instead of just bringing today’s dancehall acts, [we would do] like what we did with Vintage. Vintage used to be just 1960s [and 1970s] artistes, but it was limited in terms of the appeal; so then we started bringing in some of the 1990s, and we started attracting a younger crowd.

“So that is why last Friday night’s Vintage was the largest crowd we ever had because it was a combination of the ’60s, the ’70s and the ’90s. So maybe we need to do that now with the beach as well, and rather than look to attract a 15-to-25-year-old demographic, look to also pull in an older crowd who would make it more meaningful,” Gilkes added.

He said: “When in your tenth year, you can attract your largest crowd ever, I think it speaks volumes about what we have done in those ten years in terms of always being consistent with quality entertainment, offering consistence with the quality of the ambience. This is our tenth year and for ten years the police have never had to intervene, to come on stage and stop this show even for ten minutes because of some problem with the crowd behaviour. We look wherever possible to do the best we can for the people that we cater for, and I believe  this is one of the reasons for our continued success.”

Looking to next year, while he could not promise that it would better 2014, he said organizers would do their best. Though not wanting to name any particular artistes, he said that there were still a number of acts they wished to acquire for the festival, not only from out of Jamaica and the rest of the Caribbean, but also from Europe and Africa.

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