Reggae losing sting in Japan

Andrew Clunis, Freelance Writer
Jamaica Gleaner
September 8, 1999

CROWDS AVERAGING 4,000 persons compared to several years ago when 60,000 attended reggae shows in Japan tell tales of doom. There had been speculation that reggae was on the slide in Japan, but the recent Sting Japan four-show tour, staged by Supreme Promotions between August 14 and August 22, confirmed it.

The numbers were small despite the big line-up of artistes from Jamaica. According to Dimario McDowell, spokesman for Supreme Promotions, there is evidence that reggae has lost much of its sting in Japan.

"It might be a question of how we have packaged things in the past, but certainly the reception has become lukewarm. One gets the impression that many promoters are not satisfied with the present state of the industry. It could also be a question that many Japanese music business people have pulled out of Jamaica.

"Everything comes right back to the question of professionalism in the music industry. Until we find competent people to be involved, like university graduates and so on, we will continue to lose markets. Japan was a big one for reggae music," he said.

The four shows and one big dance were held in the cities of Tokyo, Osaka, Fukuoka and Okinawa.

"The people who turned out for those shows showed commitment. It was the rainy season in Japan and they stood during the downpour to enjoy the presentations. In that respect I would say the basic foundation of reggae's pre-dominance is still there."

A Jamaican is said to be located in every corner of the earth and this holds true in Japan, where McDowell said they were treated to Jamaican cuisine in almost every city they visited.

"We played at a military base and there were numerous Jamaicans there who are serving in the United States Army. They cooked curried chicken for us. We also found people from several parishes across the country," he said.

The tour was headlined by Beenie Man and featured Pam Hall, Little Kirk, Tanto Metro and Devonte, Pinchers, Richie Stephens and the Blaze band.

"We went there to test the soil and see what to expect. We now know that we will be going back, because the market can be rebuilt. Whether we will be going with the same promoter is the big question, but Sting Japan will be back next year," Mr. McDowell said.

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