Startime, the show that was launched 24 years ago with the mission to “keep Jamaica’s musical heritage alive” is back with bang after a six-year hiatus. Startime which has established itself as one of Jamaica’s most highly- rated entertainment events, left the scene in 2006, but returns on Saturday, February 16 at the Liguanea Club in New Kingston, with J. Wray and Nephew White Overproof Rum as main sponsor along with Stone’s Ginger Wine, CVM TV, KOOL 97FM, Pepsi, Ting, Juici Patties, Liguanea Club, Starlight Productions, Seals & Engravables, Bourne’s Texaco, CPTC, On Stage TV, Kingston Hireage, Happy Ice, and Securipro.
Entertainment writers have stated that Startime’s absence “has left a major void in the capital city’s entertainment offerings” and the public pressure for the show’s return has been so strong that promoters MKB had no alternative but to respond to the public’s insistence that Startime goes back into production.
The show which had its beginnings in 1988 at the now defunct Oceana Hotel’s Old Spanish Town Bar, became an internationally acclaimed event and promoters Michael Barnett and Keith Brown (MKB Productions) have been credited with playing the major role in the tremendous resurgence of the artists and music of the celebrated ska/rock steady era of the 50s and 60s. Noted businessman Junior Sinclair is now a welcome addition to the MKB team.
Up to 2006, Startime was staged over 140 times in the Corporate Area, Manchester, St. Elizabeth, Clarendon, Westmoreland, St. Ann and St. James; outgrew four venues, and developed a tremendous following among music lovers of all ages. In 2005 the show hit the foreign trail, embarking on an overseas tour covering 17 cities in the UK, Germany, France, Norway, Sweden, Holland and Italy.
Over the years Startime earned a reputation for consistent, on-time starts; production excellence; won several local and international awards and came to be regarded as the “crème de la creme” of vintage shows. It’s many awards over the years, include separate Heineken and CVM TV “Awards of Excellence”, Martin’s International “Promoter of the Year” award (MKB); and many Rockers, Xtra News and Binns’“Show of the Year” and “Promoter of the Year”awards.
MKB principals Michael Barnett and Keith Brown were also awarded City of Kingston medals in 2006 by then Kingston and St. Andrew Mayor Desmond McKenzie for their contribution to the field of Entertainment.
Every ska and rock steady artiste of note has appeared on Startime, including overseas-based legends like The Skatalites, Alton Ellis, Prince Buster, Eric “Monty” Morris, Owen Gray, Jimmy James, Horace Andy and Winston Francis, most of whom had not graced a local stage in decades. American R&B stars like Gene Chandler, Dorothy Moore, the Persuaders and Tavares have also graced the Startime stage.
MKB produced the historic Festival Song show for the JCDC in 2002 to mark Jamaica’s 40th Independence anniversary, and also provided production services for local shows featuring the likes of Gladys Knight, Smokey Robinson, Freddie Jackson, The Chilites, Ray Goodman & Brown and Busta Rhymes; and overseas shows including the Philadelphia Vintage Carnival and Vintage Reunion in Florida.
MKB can’t wait to once again, “give the people what they want”.