February 17, 2011
I-Octane delivers blazing performances in Tri-State Area
Reggae star I-Octane energised the hard-core grassroots dancehall audiences stateside with a trio of high-energy performances in frigid, wintry conditions in the Tri-State Area recently.
After a whirlwind media tour at the end of January, I-Octane returned to New York for incendiary performances at SOBs in New York City, Temptations Nightclub in Brooklyn and The Hut in New Jersey.
The singjay kicked off the week on Monday, February 7, 2011, as the headliner at the first instalment of the popular 'Rock With Squeeze' shows this year. Hosted by David 'Squeeze' Annakie, CEO of LinkUp Media and publisher of JAMROCK Magazine, I-Octane pulled out a huge crowd for the 7 p.m. show as fans braved the bad weather to see the singjay in action. He did not disappoint.
Kicking off his set with the No. 1 single, No Love Inna Dem, Octane had the audience dancing and singing along to other hits such as My Life, Lose A Friend, Puff It, and Mine Who Yuh A Dis. At the end of his set, Squeeze conducted an onstage interview.
Two days later, Octane was in awesome form as he thrilled a packed Brooklyn's Temptations Nightclub during the weekly Wah A Gwaan Wednesdays event. Industry insiders Jabba, and Mr Cee of Hot 97 as well as broadcaster Nikki Z were among the fans on hand to witness the singjay's stellar performance.
I-Octane's performance on February 9th at a jam-packed Temptations in Brooklyn was special. The media were also on hand to witness the I-Octane movement and they were in a frenzy. "I've kept many shows in Brooklyn at Temptations and have never seen the hard core Brooklyn garrison audience accept and receive an artist like they did I-Octane. Hapilos, Steelie Bashment and I are proud of this very successful promotion. I-Octane has arrived and he isn't going anywhere any time soon," promoter Johnny Wonder said.
Mr Cee, the host of Hot 97's popular 'Throwback at Noon' was so enthralled by the singjay's performance, that he announced that he had decided to add a few of the singjay's songs to his set.
If the nightclub gig in Brooklyn was popping, then Newark, New Jersey was simply scintillating as I-Octane rounded out a memorable swing through the Tri-State Area with a performance at The Hut on Thursday, February 10.
It is clear that I-Octane has not only tapped into a new fan base but, most importantly he has earned the respect of those die hard fans who have been deprived of high-quality reggae acts in recent months, because of the visa problems currently being experienced by most of the top reggae-dancehall acts.
The US tour continues with performances in Houston, Texas; Arcata, California; Oakland, California; Fairfax, California; Miami, Florida; Long Beach, California; Chicago, Minneapolis, Bridgeport, Connecticut; Springfield, Massachusetts and other dates in May.
Etana embarks on
Roots/reggae singer Etana has a full schedule ahead of her this year as 2011 is shaping up to be a year that she will spend on the road. The Rootssinger jets off for a tour of the US this weekend and has upcoming tours of the Caribbean and Europe scheduled for later on in the year. Still, she insists that she will be in Jamaica for at least one show this year. "I definitely want to do Sumfest," she says.
But, according to the singer's road manager, Junior Fraser, that may be one of the few chances local fans will get to see Etana perform. "This is going to be a very busy year, especially now that she has a fabulous new album out that I am sure is going to be a hit," he said.
Etana's latest album Free Expressions was released February 8 to rave reviews and the tour dates will be coming fast and furious as the singer promotes her latest work. The tour dates begin with a performance at Club Pana in Tampa, Florida this Friday. Stops follow at the Hard Rock Café in Orlando and De Real Ting Café in Jacksonville, respectively.
From there, Etana embarks on a radio blitz in the Tri-State Area that includes appearances on Power 105 in New York and Hot 97 in Boston.
Performances in Indianapolis, Rhode Island, Syracuse, Washington and Bridgeport follow in early March and they will be followed by show dates in St Louis, Kansas City and Columbus, by mid-March.
In April, it's South America's turn to enjoy Etana's music as she is down to perform on shows in Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay. Afterwards it's back to Jamaica for a couple of shows including the Curry Festival and Montego Bay, respectively.
Fraser revealed that the hectic schedule also includes shows in Texas, California and Arizona in May, before heading off to Europe for the various reggae festivals in June/July.
Winter dates are also on the calendar for Europe in October/November as well as dates in the United Kingdom where the singer's music is hugely popular. "There is a lot to do because we are even getting calls for her to perform in the Cyprus Islands, Istanbul and Australia," Fraser reveals. "Africa is going to come up in there somewhere too. There are a lot of things to get done."
Magnum Kings, Queens hopefuls impress judges in May Pen
The Magnum Kings and Queens of the Dancehall auditions rolled into central Jamaica recently, with new host, Yanique Barrett, and hundreds of hopefuls who lined up in the sweltering sun from as early as 6 a.m., for the 9 a.m. start.
The third audition for the 2011 season, according to the producers, was the biggest one so far. Contestants from as far away as St Elizabeth and St Mary were on hand to show their talents, with the hope of capturing the coveted title of Magnum King and Queen of the Dancehall.
One of the contestants who identified herself only as Ostra said she was travelling all the way from St Elizabeth because she knew that she had the talent to be the next 'Queen of the Dancehall'.
"A three children mi have, the oldest one a 14 an a dem mi a do dis fah. From six dis morning I am here, all now mi nuh drink tea yet," Ostra told THE STAR after she got one of those elusive tickets to go before the main judges.
The judges said that they were extremely pleased with the contestants that were on hand at the Bargain Village in May Pen. The three main judges, Scatta Burrell, Professor Nuts and Ms Kitty, after deliberating for more than an hour, all said they had a hard time sifting through the hundreds of talented contestants they saw, to finally emerge with the top 10.
"May Pen made it difficult to choose because so many stars were here today. My only disappointment was that one of the best stars for the day can't go forward because he is under the age of 18. Magnum is an adult drink and we can't promote underage drinking," stated Miss Kitty who added that May Pen surprised her.
Executive producer of Magnum Kings and Queens of Dancehall, Mark Kenny, said he was elated with the turnout in May Pen and is excited about this season because he saw a variety of talented contestants.
- Leighton Levy