Looking back: Reggae Sumfest 1998 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 1998; Mr. Vegas' Head High was the female anthem of the year while Red Rat's Tight Up Skirt was setting the airwaves ablaze. Beres Hammond Hold On got any crowd pumped once that bass guitar strokes began as Buju Banton's Destiny held everyone in a spiritual-chant's-trance. Reggae Sumfest now revels in it's sixth staging and seems stronger than ever; now billed as 'The Wolrd's Premier Reggae Music Festival', pulsating with an undying rhythm.

For the first time in its six years, Sumfest took to the city's streets of Montego Bay with a 'Street Jam' on Monday August 3' along the contained Gloucester Avenue 'Hip Strip'; Having the Unique Vision Band backing entertainers Cindy Lewis, D Syndicate, Nash, Winston Dale, Lloydy Love and the three-member group David Sapphire among a few other acts; captivating revellers and ultimately setting the tone of what's to come. 

Clash of the Titans/ Heavy Weight Countdown; Tuesday, August 4

Reigning at Pier One, Montego Bay, sound systems Killamajaro, Pieces and Travellers got everyone's heart beat to dance to the same rhythm as they spun hits from yesteryear up to 1998.  

Legends Night; Wednesday, August 5

With an estimated 4000 patrons ready to be washed in the hits of yesteryear, the night's performances stood up to the crowd's expectations. Brigadier Jerry got the ball rolling with a tight set reeling off his hey-days hits including Jamaica, Jamaica.

Pat Kelly and the Techniques, which included Lloyd Parkes, delivered their usual top quality show with Gregory Isaacs' making a welcoming return to the Sumfest stage. As the only female act of the night and being backed by the all-female band, Girlz Town, former member of the I-Threes, Marcia Griffiths' voice dazzled the crowd as Leroy Sibbles 30-minute stint stood to be one of his strongest performances yet.

John Holt more than held his own with hits including Ali Baba And The Forty Thieves, Stick By Me, If I Were A Carpenter and Wear You To The Ball as Dennis Brown held the job of closing the show. But Barrington Levy's performance was the most-talked at the night's end as he went through his diverse catalogue Teach The Youths, Too Experienced, and the ode to marijuana Under Mi Sensi the crowd simply couldn't get enough of him.

Dancehall Bashment, Thursday, August 6

As thousands spilled out for the ever popular Dancehall Bashment night, the Ruff Cut Crew and Kaushan band had their hands full as they backed the indescribable performances that came from Beenie, Bounty Killer, Lady Saw, Spragga Benz, Lady G, Mad Cobra, Hawkeye, Goofy, Lt. Elmo, Serial Kid, Mr. Vegas and the Scare Dem Crew.

Roots Rock Jam; Friday, August 7

Decked out in the Rastafarian colours of red, green and gold, patrons were treated to outstanding performances from Trinidad and Tobago's David Rudder and Charlie's Roots, and the Rasta Messengers Luciano, Anthony B, Tony Rebel and Morgan's Heritage.with Bushman, Sugar Black and Leh-Banchulah making their debut performances. But Sizzla did hold everyone's attention with his controversial performance as he criticised a number of persons in the industry and organizations and condemning them to "burn". 

Worl-A-Reggae; Saturday, August 8

Pulling a bumper-to-bumper crowd, Reggae Sumfest came to a dazzling close as top acts oozed nothing but stellar performances. With an estimated 15,000 patron at hand to see American R&B groups, the multi-award winning Boyz II Men and K-Ci and JoJo, as well as Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers, Austrian reggae band Tim Tim and Reggae artiste Fahrenheit, the night went down as the most success in Jamaica to that date.

Dressed in identical army fatigue, the Marley clan took centre stage wowing the audience with original and songs done by their late father, much to the delight of teh crowd. Thrid World breezed through their arsenal of hits before the R n B sensations  Boyz II Men and K-Ci and JoJo made their way on stage.

In-between well-rehearsed choreography, Boyz II Men  belted out hits as their female fan base screamed at every chance given. With hits On Bended Knees, I'm Doing Just Fine, End Of Tbe Road, Welcome To My Home , Water Runs Dry, Mama and I'll Make Love To You, they simply could do no wrong.

The brother pair of K-Ci and JoJo was just as well received showing just why they are one of the most sought after groups on the American R&B scene.


Sourced at the Gleaner Archives

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