4 questions asked of Michael Barnett-conceptualizer/founder of The Original Startime (formerly Heineken Startime), by a well-known Jamaican Journalist.
(1) Since 1988, many Jamaica stage shows have come and gone . Why has Startime survived and is stronger now after 28 years?
A). Startime is a one-of-a-kind phenomenon that has developed a loyal and dedicated following over the 28 years. Anytime is the right time for Startime !!! The last two Startime concerts at Mas Camp in Kingston January 2016 (with over 5,000 patrons in attendance), and at the Verandah in Clarendon July 2016 (with over 7,000 in attendance patrons) are vivid reminders of the overwhelming popularity of the Startime brand, and the fans are clamouring for more and more Startime …. the only major concert Startime which provides a continuous platform for vintage artists and musicians to consistently expose their music, stagecraft and talents to the world …. so therefore Startime still has a major role to play in the Jamaican entertainment landscape. A major part of Startime’s longevity is the level of professionalism we bring to each staging, making it a uniquely fulfilling experience for both the artists who participate each time and our patrons.
(2) What sets Startime apart from other ‘vintage’ shows?
- A) One of the main aspects of Startime that sets it apart is the high-quality production level, courtesy of our major suppliers like Starlight Productions, Sparkles Productions and Truetone. When a patron enters the Startime venue, you get the Startime feel …. beginning with how you are greeted at the entrance, to the stage set up inside, the top quality lighting and sound reinforcement, and the general layout of the venue.
Secondly the all-important start time, because if we say gates open 5pm, showtime 8pm … you can bet that’s exactly what happens; and our loyal and dedicated Startime staff plays an integral and valuable role in all of this, allowing us to deliver each time.
Due to this level of professionalism, one popular radio DJ based overseas who has flown into Jamaica several times for Startime, commented that Startime is the only Jamaican concert he knows, that at the advertised showtime, at least 70 percent of the patrons are already in the venue, because they’re assured of an on-time start, and they don’t want to miss any of the acts.
Thirdly, each artist carefully selected for Startime comes with a hit-filled catalogue of popular songs, and we the promoters always prepare the selection of songs performed at Startime in consultation with the respective artists. The success of that exercise comes about from the experience of knowing the songs that the Startime audience loves, want to hear and will sing along to, making for a highly enjoyable experience.
(3) What would you say is Startime’s greatest achievement ?
A. Startime’s greatest achievement is having brought about a total rebirth and re-acceptance in today’s music of our foundation artists. I remember in the mid to late 80s, when early dancehall had become the rage in Jamaica;
names like John Holt, Alton Ellis, Leroy Sibbles, Bob Andy, Ken Boothe, Slim Smith, Derrick Morgan, Derrick Harriott, Errol Dunkley, Gregory Isaacs, Horace Andy, Johnny Clarke, Joseph Hill & Culture, the Heptones, the Uniques, the Paragons, the Gaylads, the Melodians and others – some of Jamaica’s legendary music icons – were now all but forgotten; and the music fans of the 80s era knew very little about these pioneers, and could’nt even identify their photographs …..
Thank God, Startime has changed all of that …. now they all are readily identifiable, and although a number of our leading exponents have passed this life; their music is now regularly and deservedly heard on radio and in the dancehalls in Jamaica and around the world; and has once again, become known and respected by all.
(4) So when is the next Startime concert ?
2017 Well the next Startime concert – which could easily be the biggest and best ever – is scheduled for Saturday July 8, 2017. We have a number of surprises in store for our dedicated Startime audience, and we will be pulling out all stops in putting this event together as a present for them for supporting us for all these 28 years.
Keep watching this space !!!