Looking back: Reggae Sumfest 1997 Image

by Biko Kennedy

A 'groomer of greats' since its inception, Reggae Sumfest have given Reggae lovers worldwide something other festivals haven't; breath-taking moments that seemingly leaves patrons mystified and yearning for more until the next staging. As the clock on the 21st showcasing ticks away, Jamaicansmusic.com looks back at the years that was and how it have evolved as time passes.

The year is 1997; Beenie Man and Chevelle Franklyn's Dancehall Queen is being played at every party imaginable; Bounty Killa showed another side to his persona with Swedish superstar Robyn on his cover of Rose Royce's Love Don't Live Here Anymore while the film Dancehall Queen made its release to rave reviews. Reggae Sumfest has reached its first major milestone, celebrating its 5th anniversary, with an array of spectacular performances set to wow the welcoming audience.

With no Reggae Sunplash to compete with this year, something extra special was in store for the thousands of Reggae fans who descend on the 'tourist capital' to experience this year's festival's theme; 'Music The Universal Force'.

'Clash of the Titans': Tuesday, August 5

Featuring top sound systems from Reggae land - Stone Love, Digitech, Renaissance and Pieces Muzik - Clash of the Titan certainly lived up to its name. Held at the Pier One Complex in Montego Bay, all sound systems brought their 'A' game but Stone Love's unique 'juggling' arguably took the win of the night; having the crowd in a continuous dancing frenzy.

'Legends  Night': Wednesday, August 6

Held at the Club Inferno Resort in Rose Hall, St. James, the devoted 'oldies' lovers who crammed the courtyard got way more than they bargained for. With Lloyd Parks and We The People backing all performers, it was simply five hours of solid entertainment. Packed with performances from Alton Ellis, Leroy Sibbles, John Holt, Ken Boothe, Hopeton Lewis, Phyjis Dillon and pioneer .DJ Scottie among others, the night melted with hits after hits.

Dancehall Bashment: Thursday, August 7

As the Dancehall kings and queens graced the stage, it was clear that Dancehall fashion ethics was unmatched by any other culture as it seemed as though 'chic met gaudy and the outrageous bordered on the sublime'. Among the top performances laid Beenie Man, Lady, the Monster Shack Crew and Lieutenant Stitchie – who came off his hospital bed after surviving an automobile accident – which some saw Stichie as rescuing the night's staging from riddled lewd performances. Sporting a bandage over his left eye, Lt. Stitchie gave a masterful performance, with such hits as Hurry Up and That Can't Happen To Me.

Roots Rock Jam: Friday, August 8

With Anthony-B, Buju Banton, Everton Blender, Tony Rebel, I-Threes and Popular Song runnerup Gordon Scott pegged to set the stage ablaze, it was Luciano who stole the show. With his hour-long performance it went down as one of his best ever on a Reggae stage. Not since the late Peter Tosh in the mid-1980s has a reggae performer captivated a crowd as he did.

International Night/Worl - A - Reggae: Saturday, August 9

Always a night flavoured with stellar performances, Inner Circle memorized the pulsating Sumfest audience. With Shaggy, Chaka Demus and Pliers among the host of entertainers setting the tone for the group, Inner Circle didn't hesitate in reeling off their hit-laced catalogue. Comprising of Roger Lewis - guitar; Ian Lewis - bass; Bernard 'Touter' Harvey- keyboards, Lancelot Hall - drums and Kris Bentley – lead vocals, the crowd sang along verbatim to singles including Bad Boys and Sweat (A La La Long).


Sourced at the Gleaner Archives

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