Traffic Blocking deejay General Degree, is set to headline Negril’s Different Strokes, one of the biggest retro party series events on the entertainment calendar in western Jamaica, at the Wavz Beach in the resort town, come this Saturday.
According to promoter of the event, Sean Greenfield, the mixed drink inclusive event will, as in past years, feature the sounds of the 1970s to the 1990s, from the Jamaican genres Reggae and Dancehall, plus the sounds of North American genres.
The addition of General Degree makes the second time in its 14 years that the party includes a recording artiste on its roster, as the event has been predicated on having mainly the island’s most esteemed music selectors guiding the party all night long.
“General Degree is one of the key deejays of the 1990s with many hits back then. And we just saw it fitting that we have him, as an added bonus to the patrons,” Greenfield told DancehallMag.
Greenfield, who is also a director of the Negril Entertainment Association (NEA), says that, as usual, music from the era spanning the 1970s and 1990s will be the mainstay of the event, an idea he came up with almost 15 years ago after realising that there was a lack of music from those years at parties.
“I just personally like music from that era. But when I attended other parties, I realised that a lot of the time I wasn’t hearing the kind of music that I enjoyed,” Greenfield said.
The selectors at the turntables for the staging of this month’s event are Mix Master Marvin of Kool FM, DJ Big Red and DJ Five.
As for the patrons, Greenfield said that in the past, the event, which serves as a boon to domestic tourism in Negril, would see mainly the more mature audience in attendance, but now, many Millennials from both Hanover and Westmoreland, and various parts of Jamaica flock to the town for each staging, where they are treated to “more music and less talk”.
“Usually it is the older people who attend, but now everybody comes, because younger people come to learn the music. Additionally, there is a different method of how the music is played in terms of no screaming in the microphones and chatting-chatting, just music,” Greenfield explained.
Different Strokes, which is now in its 14th year, is among tge longest running retro party series in the western end of the island.
It has been one of the most anticipated events on Negril’s entertainment calendar and has the support of the Negril Entertainment Association and the Negril Chamber of Commerce.
Greenfield is one of Negril’s foremost event promoters, a passion he took on whilst attending the University of Technology in Kingston. However, he became an official party promoter back in 1999.
The first Different Strokes event was held in March 2009 as an annual event, but since then has grown to become one a huge spectacle, attracting patrons from home and abroad which resulted in Greenfield being forced to stage the party twice per year.
Negril itself, which is the westernmost town in Jamaica, remains a melting pot of visitors and locals and is considered the live Reggae capital of the island.
Historically, the town’s economic success has been predicated on the abundance of live Reggae music every night of the week, particularly on the West End, and the activities on the seven-mile white sand beach by day. Approximately 500,000 tourists visit the town annually each year and there remains a strong demand from locals and tourists for reggae shows and other cultural events.
Over the decades, a plethora of the biggest names in Reggae have flocked to the resort town for working vacations and staycations, among them the late Tenor Saw, Jimmy Cliff, Yellowman, Beres Hammond, Yami Bolo, the Godfather of Dancehall Daddy U-Roy, Big Yute, and Marcia Griffiths.
Other huge acts who have graced stages in Negril are Gregory Isaacs, Third World, Dennis Brown, Melody Makers and Judy Mowatt, Charlie Chaplain.
Younger acts such as Bounty Killer, Beenie Man, Kymani Marley, Luciano, Romain Virgo, Louie Culture and Turbulence, Gideon Boot artiste Richie Spice and Dexta Daps and a slew of others have also treated Negriliers to musical pleasures.
Negril was also extremely popular with Dancehall and Reggae artists in the 1980s, so much so that singer Tyrone Taylor even relocated there and later penned his masterpiece From a little Cottage in Negril, based on his experiences there. Veteran deejay General Trees also voiced the Dancehall classic ‘Gone a Negril’ during that period.