32-year all-star Sting plan - No clash scheduled for 'best of' Boxing Day concert

There are images of performers who were promising youngsters in a particular Sting year who are now considered dancehall elders, or then established acts who have had varied fortunes - as well as those artistes who had a good patch but, like so many large-scale concerts which used to be kept in the Christmas season, have faded. The posters reflect a event which has lasted through the Jamaican popular music's digital changeover heralded by the Sleng Teng rhythm of 1985 through the boom of '90s dancehall, the near hip-hop sound in the latter part of last decade, the resurgence of roots reggae in a much younger generation, and a current return to the late 1980s/1990s dancehall sound.


Looking back



They are some of the faces which Supreme Promotions intends to take from its walls and once again have in the flesh at Sting in Jamworld, Portmore, on Boxing Day for a 'best-of' line-up this year.

"Over the years, we been doing this and we looking back for the patrons. You have some patrons been coming to Sting over the years and want to come back to Sting. So, we going back in the days, right back to the beginning, where we had people like the Papa San, the Lieutenant Stitchie, the Brigadier Jerry, those kind of people from way back, and carry them back," Laing said.

"The real concept, though, is all the people who were hot on each year, we want to bring them back this year and showcase them," Laing said, tapping a forefinger on a desk to emphasise his determination. "We picking out the core from each year that is available right now."

However, the current 'up-and-buzzing' would not be excluded, Laing mentioning Vershon among those who would fall in that category.

McDowell connects the Sting 2015 plans with how Jamaican popular music has developed. "What actually flavours dancehall has been the independent rhythms that people make and the independent artistes who go on them and are on them successfully, then them get a hit," he said, citing the Jammy's era of the 1980s as an example. Giving the example of Pinchers hearing a rhythm Laing had on eight-track tape, saying he had a song to fit it and going to Channel One on Maxfield Avenue and voicing Return of the Don before Laing even got to the studio, McDowell said, "If you look around the world right now, a lot of things are happening spontaneously."

"That is what the streets of Kingston produce. And that is what Sting is a reflection of - the dynamism, the excitement."

And that is what Supreme Promotions is going for this year, though without one element which has been re-introduced heavily over the past two years. No clashes are being planned, Laing noting that the exchange of lyrics on stage without animosity which has long been a feature of formats like 'three the hard' way (with 'tune for tune') will be included.

"The crowd we trying to attract this year, some of the crowd, the older people, dem no intend to do no running and we no want that, then anything go get out of hand," Laing said.

A number of artistes are mentioned on the prospective 'best of' line-up, among them Beres Hammond, Professor Nuts, Tiger, Malvo, Ninja Man, Johnny P, Daddy Screw, Tony Rebel, Chronixx, Kabaka Pyramid, Beenie Man and Bounty Killer. But, close to 12 weeks before the band strikes up at Jamworld, there have been no contacts and contracts.


Artistes want Sting



However, Heavy D said, "Generally, we know who we want and most people, in them era and time ya, want to be in Sting." Referring to the performers of earlier years, he said "most of the people from them time would want to get on Sting, or get back them shine".

In terms of Sting calling performers from its history, Heavy D pointed out that "fortunately or unfortunately, is dat a happen now, even inna de dancehall. If yu notice, all a de riddim whe dem man deh sing pon, if yu notice a dat dem a replay now, whe come out of the '80s and '90s. Obviously, them still have Beenie Man and Bounty Killer, because ..." Laing inserted "a dem rule. Twenty years worth a ruling."

Heavy D floated the idea of going "old and new brand" on the line-up. "Mi waan carry da ol' set an' a new brand set. Man like Dexter Daps, whe jus a buss pon da era ya." McDowell also speaks about electronic dancehall being previewed at Sting 2014 and the prospect of greater prominence going forward.

There have been well-publicised frictions between the Sting organisers and a couple performers on their 'best of' wish list, but Supreme Promotions insists that there are no lasting grudges.

And one thing which they intend to maintain is the entry fee, which is general presold $2,500 and $3,000 at the gate.

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