STARTIME which for several years had Heineken Beer as its headline sponsor, had the distinction of being Jamaica’s longest running concert series when it ended its 18-year run in 2006 after over 140 stagings..
The show is still something of a phenomenon in Jamaica’s musical history in that it grew from a small after-work event in the Spanish Town Bar at the now defunct Oceana Hotel downtown Kingston (1988), into a massive, internationally reknowned show which outgrew several venues.
STARTIME’S reputation is reflected in the continuing demand for its return, despite the fact that MKB Productions (promoters of STARTIME) have not staged an event in over five years; however they are being constantly barraged with requests from both local and overseas fans to resume the series.
Jamaica’s 50th anniversary celebrations have seen this demand growing to even greater proportions as the fans have emphatically stated that the STARTIME show, having been such an important part in the development of Jamaica’s music, should be a part of the celebrations.
As a result of this demand, MKB has been literally forced to decide to stage a special anniversary event; giving Jamaica a long-awaited and highly demanded return to it’s musical roots.
Most importantly, STARTIME is credited with being one of the lead players in the wave of popularity still being enjoyed by Jamaica’s musical pioneers who triggered the growth of the Jamaican music industry over the years, and laid the foundation for the international prominence which Jamaican music now enjoys.
In addition, the showcasing of these veteran performers on STARTIME and the consistently high quality of the show, were largely responsible for the re-birth of the careers of several of our vintage stars; and so STARTIME can justifiably lay claim to being one of the most significant contributors to the preservation of Jamaica’s musical heritage.
From its small start in 1988 in the Old Spanish Town Bar at the Oceana Hotel, STARTIME on its forced hiatus (1994), and triumphant return following the closure of the Hotel; moved to the former Club Mirage in the Sovereign Shopping Centre(1995); then the Corporate Area’s hottest nightspot. But after just two sold-out stagings, the show had to shift to the larger Peppers venue on Waterloo Road where it continued to rock the city and bring joy to its patrons (1995 – 1997).
As the support base grew, the show had to make yet another move, this time to the Countryside Club on Eastwood Park Road (1997 – 1999) where it hit unprecedented heights of excitement, forcing MKB to seek yet another venue as the fans continued to flock to what had now become an exciting, professional, high quality production that was the island’s most acclaimed stage show.
The establishment of Mas Camp, Oxford Road and an invitation from the owners to make the venue Startime’s new home (2000) was timely and STARTIME was nestled at Mas Camp until it ended its run in 2006.
Over the years the show had several out-of-town stagings in St. James, Clarendon, St.Elizabeth, Westmoreland, St. Ann and Manchester.
STARTIME also had one overseas tour with a lineup including Gregory Isaacs, U Roy, Frankie Paul and Lloyd Parks and We the People Band making a very successful six-week European tour of Sweden, Holland, Germany, England, Italy, Switzerland, France and Spain.
Awards won by STARTIME include “Show of the Year” on several occasions, the Heineken and CVM TV Awards, and the Martin’s International Award for its contribution to the development of Jamaica’s music several Binns and Rocker’s Awards trophies. The show has also won many awards for the consistently high quality of the production.
MKB Directors Michael Barnett and Keith Brown were also awarded the Kingston and St.Andrew Corporation Gold Medal for their work in preserving Jamaica’s musical heritage.