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Tribute to Dennis Brown 2013

Tribute to Dennis Brown 2013

Tribute to Dennis Brown 2013

By on - Photos by Errol Mitchell - Comment

Tribute to the Crown Prince of Reggae Mr. Dennis Emmanuel Brown on March 17th.

A partly cloudy day with a breeze and spacious Victoria Pier helped create a nice setting for the Dennis Brown Tribute in downtown Kingston last Sunday. Part of February's Reggae Month concert series celebrating The Reggae Greats birthdays Bob Marley, Peter Tosh and Dennis Brown, this concert finally came to fruition after three postponements. Showcasing young and up-and-coming talent as well as big artists, the Dennis Brown Tribute boasted names such as Beres Hammond, Cocoa Tea and Junior Reid.

Big Youth

The event started on time and was off to a fabulous start with good sound and a beautiful sunset along the water. Selectas played all the great Dennis Brown tunes from Silhouettes to The Promise Land. Vendors hawking a variety of things from peanuts to cell phone credit, you can get almost anything if you stand in one place long enough. The Jamaican Tourist Board among other sponsors was in full effect with banners and flags promoting themselves while adding festive decoration.

Dubbed by Bob Marley as "The Crown Prince of Reggae" for being his favorite singer, it was clear after this event that Mr. Dennis Emmanuel Brown has influenced many current Jamaican reggae artists. Almost every single one of the performers at this event gave tribute to the legend by singing at least one of Dennis Brown's songs, and each one was a treat for those of us that did not get to see The Prince perform them live. A few of the artists that performed had known Mr. Brown personally since his early career in the 1960's such as Errol Dunkley, Ken Boothe and Big Youth.

Ras MichaelNyahbinghi drummers graced the stage and set the vibes to positive and then the band began a medley of Dennis Brown songs to get everyone pumped up. The most notable artists in the beginning of the show were Scratchylus and Empress Reggae, Mama Kaffe, and Jah9 who had conscious lyrics and great presence. Toots Hibbert, Prophecy and Dean Fraser also gave memorable performances. Kiddus-I and Ras Michael received a truly positive response from the crowd, with Ras Michael drumming through "Africa We Want to go Home" and "None of Jah Jah Children No Cry." Next up was the smooth voice of Duane Stephenson, all smiles sweetly singing Dennis's "Here I Come." We The People, with Bongo Herman and a mean horn section tore up renditions of The Mission Impossible Theme and The Beatles' Norwegian Wood. Junior Sinclair broke it down old school style with Mr. Brown's "Fussin' and a Fightin'". Sharon Tucker and Mary Isaacs gave powerful performances with their strong voices.

As the crowd really began to fill in Mikey General busted out with another great Dennis Brown song "Sitting and Watching" and then sang one of his hits "African Soldier." Chuck Fenda continued the momentum with the crowd loving his rendition of "Shall I Have Faith in You" and then his big tune "Don't Know What It Means." Iba Mahr once again brings the positive crowd-pleasing vibes with his biggest tunes "Will I wait in Vain," "I say" and "Burning" as well as Mr. Brown's "No Man is an Island." Around 9:30pm the energy gets turned up a notch as Junior Reid bounces onto the stage with his signature "One Blood" and then into "No Visa and No Passport" then back to a Hip Hop remix of "One Blood." He spends the time on stage to give big respect to Mr. Dennis Brown, then singing "Warrior" with great crowd participation and as he exits stage left he belted out one bar of "This is Why I'm Hot."

After a quick band change, the hugely popular Chronixx gets the Kingston crowd going with Dennis's "Love Has Found Its Way." He then says he's "gonna do that lovey-dovey ting," with "Do You Remember the Days" and some of his hits including Dancehall selection "It a Burn" and burn it did! Chronixx is definitely one the hottest up and coming artists in Jamaica. And then along comes Protoje singing "Kingston Be Wise" and, well, you can imagine the response from a Kingston crowd!

Up next the legendary Errol Dunkley who was one of Dennis Brown's biggest influences and toured together in showcases in the 1970's. Mr. Dunkley cooed his lovely tones on tunes like "How I Love to Have You" and "Go on in the Evening, Go on in the Morning." He then pays tribute to Alton Ellis, Sugar Minott and Gregory Isaacs with one verse each of "I'm In a Dancing Mood" and "I Don't Want to Be Lonely Tonight" acapella and then "Black Cinderella" comes in nice and hard but silky smooth.

Ken Boothe, another one of Dennis's great influences, then soothes us with his vibrato style while singing a belated "Happy Birthday" to The Crown Prince of Reggae. When he asks the crowd if they "Alright" they respond with a loud "Yeah!" and he begins singing again with "If I Fall in Love Again" and "Puppet on a String" as the crowd sings along.

Around 11:30pm great friend and co-songwriter to Dennis Brown, Big Youth, graced the stage with crazy dance moves and conversed with crowd. "Wa'gwan? Teach the youths to help and depend on themselves---self-preservation." The crowd loves him as he quoted Dennis, sings a little acapella, and then the music fades in with "Hit the Road Jack" and then "Natty Dread inna Babylon," as he throws off his jacket and begins thrashing his dreads into the air. Up next is the legendary Heptones with their perfect harmonies, conscious lyrics and red suits; they somehow seem modern in their retro style playing some of their best hits such as "We've Got to Live Some Life," "Book of Rules" and "Yes I."

And then the crowd goes wild when they hear the first few notes of "No I Can't" and "I Feel Good" as superstar Mr. Beres Hammond launches into his performance. He spoke of what a wonderful person Dennis Brown was and how much he is missed. He is still on point and sexy as ever as he teases us with a few bars of "No Disrespect," "Tempted to Touch" and "I Wanna Go Home."

Then he brings up special guest Cocoa Tea (who was not on the bill) and they sing his signature song "Tune In" and air horns go off for the first time all night as Beres sings back up. A small, meek man in all blue wanders on stage and belts out "Longing For" and it takes a second for me and the crowd to realize Jah Cure is on stage. He seems meek for he turns to go off stage and Beres stops him as they sing "When Can We See Each Other Again" and "Longing For" before a sexy verse of "Unconditional Love." Beres and Cocoa Tea continue along with "She Loves Me Now" before making room on stage for the great Richie Stephens as they all sing Mr. Dennis Brown's "Stay at Home" to end the evening on an incredibly high note. All in all, it was an honorable and positive tribute Mr. Dennis Emmanuel Brown would have been proud to have received.

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