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Toronto vibes to reggae greats last night

26 Nov 2005

Toronto was a buzz yesterday. Under a glorious summer sun, the crowds were everywhere. Of course, it was Pride week-end. Thousands of people filled the streets but also the ACC for another celebration -- that of Reggae music. Or "the voice of Jamaica" as one of the performers, Buju Banton calls it. But let''s not ignore the big pink elephant man in the room. More than a few onlookers had their ruckus appetite and riot gears on the ready for what some thought could have turned into a Sunday bloodclat Sunday confrontation. Of course, I''m referring to the controversial Newsfront article on the current Now Magazine saying that the International Reggae Superstars concert was crashing the Pride party. But, perhaps in a demonstration of how overblown the controversy was, the day went by without incident. Both the organisers of the Pride Parade and the reggae concert planners had taken diplomatic a stance. As some might have expected, the ACC gates were not lined with protesters. Everyone was out there having a good time, doing their own thing.

After getting through security gates which may have rivaled U.S. border checkpoints on September 12th 2001, the crowds, the media and volunteers alike were treated to a wonderful show. All the artists came out to truly entertain. Kevin Little rocked the crowd with his amazingly melodic voice to those tunes that currently fill up the dances floors all over the club district.

Old schoolers and young bucks alike were mesmerised by Calvin " Cocoa Tea " Scott. The veteran artist of over twenty years, and one of the most beloved singers in reggae, peppered his numbers with electronic gunshots that left the crowd begging for more. He later stepped back onto the stage for a short duo performance with Buju Banton.

The party was only getting started. After an introduction worthy of the dancehall queen that she is, Lady Saw came onto the stage for a raunchy and beat-filled routine that made the outside temperature of 33 degrees Celsius feel like a winter chill.

>> Cocoa Tea

After playfully lecturing the ladies in the house on the finer points of female trimming (dreadlocks belong on your heads and not under your belts), she called a few audience members over to the stage for a wining 101 class. The crowd obviously enjoyed the on-stage antics.

>> The Queen of Dancehall Lady Saw

>> The obvious winners of the audience wining competition.

Buju Banton, Bounty Killer and Elephant Man later succeeded each other in a truly memorable series of performances.

All dressed in white, Buju Banton only had to chant a few words on the microphone while still backstage to make the entire auditorium shake in anticipation. Buju, as always, did not disappoint. And even treated the crowd to a couple of his popular old tunes. It was also evident from how he shaked and moved on stage that there was still some of the old dancehall Buju in him despite his since more conscious path to Rastafarianism.

Looking sharp in his black suit, Bounty Killer came out to please the ladies. Finally, Elephant Man, with his signature multicoloured dreads brought the show to a roaring close. In a scene that made us all remember that we live in a rapidly evolving technological age, Elephant Man asked to have all the lights out and prompted the crowd to flash out their cell phones. The lighter of the post-9-11 future I guess.

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