Report: Rebel Salute 2023

Over the years Rebel Salute has grown to be one of Jamaica’s most prominent reggae festivals, a true roots-reggae event, where meat and alcohol are banned during the the two-day celebration of Tony Rebels Birthday. Just like previous years World A Reggae had the honour and privilege to witness this true Jamaican Phenomenon. With “our” house located closeby at the Richmond Estates (thank you Mr. Dennis) we were sure we wouldn’t get stuck in any traffic jams going to and from the venue. (If you are traveling in Jamaica and you need a great safe place to stay in St. Ann, please send us an email).

This first time after the Covid must have been a tough one for the Salute Organisation, especially to pul a crowd so close after Sting and After the Beres Hammond and Buju Banton “Intimate” Event. Walking over the festival grounds we noticed that less patrons found their way to the festival. On Friday, as well as on the Saturday. It couldn’t have been the good vibes at the Herb Curb nor the Food Stands….

Or was it the line-up that left the crowds at home? Many of the performing artists were the regular invitees on Tony Rebels Party. The ones we all love to watch, the veterans like Ernie Smith, Leroy Gibbons, Pluto Shervington, Horace Andy, Louie Culture, Leroy Sibbles, Errol Dunkley, Johnny Clarke, George Nooks,Sanchez, The Abyssinians and of course Tony and Queen Ifrica were accompanied by the amazing Dennis Walks, who according to host Jenny Jenny, got the Friday Nights’ first Forward.

But we were also served by the Roots youths of today, Bunny Wailers Son Naki Wailer, Yeza and Aza Lineage (two upcoming ladies with strong messages), Raphi, Falkon, 5 Star Celestial, Ras I and, although not a real Youth anymore, the powerful Derajah who kicked off the friday night. For us The performances of Kumar and Yaksta got us putting down our camera’s and watch in awe how two great singers are doing what they do best.

The crowd also got to see how the Tony Rebel/Queen Ifrica offspring have significantly grown in their craft during the sets of Davianah, Abatau, Imeru Tafari and an outstanding, allthough still somewhat shy, Tanzania aka Tanzie.

While, as far as we know, Rebel Salute is a (Roots) reggae event, The show on Friday was also slightly adjusted into showcasing the new Dancehall yutes like Jahshii (Who called for an end Violence at Rebel Salute and got praised by Mutabaruka for it), Nation Boss and Rytikal. Great for those upcoming stars who are getting to much criticism already lately as Yaksta explained during his performances. Not everyone has to like this new music, but we have to admit and realise that this is Jamaican music nowadays. Just like Rocksteady and Ska evolved to Reggae, Dancehall now evolved to this new Dancehall or Trap.

I think, although the vibes on the 2-day festival have seriously changed, especially for us as media, the people that came out had a 2 good nights of music. Where else on earth can you see big artists like Bounty Killer, Duane Stephenson, I-Wayne, Lady G, I Octane, Big Mountain, Kabaka Pyramid, The Heavyweight Rockers, Glen Washington, Capleton, Beenie Man, Josey Wales, Chezidek, Plus one of the biggest highlights Stonebwoy from Ghana, all on one stage in 2 days?

In previous years, for us it was not a real problem catching all the artists for you, but this year we had a hard time to give you the quality content you as a World A Reggae reader are used to. For us this might have been our last time at this amazing festival since, as said earlier we couldn’t meet our working standards. Next year we will focus again on Reggae Month and give you all the updates you need.