May 2018

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Usain Bolt’s Tracks & Records opens on the hip strip in Montego Bay

Usain Bolt’s Tracks & Records (UBTR ) officially opened its doors along the popular hip strip in Montego Bay on Wednesday to much fanfare with scores of the city’s movers and shakers in attendance.

Jamaican hotelier Christopher Issa will operate the restaurant under a franchise arrangement, growing the chain to three, the other two being the flagship outlet in St Andrew and the first franchise in Ocho Rios.

Gary Matalon, CEO of UBTR franchise owner KLE Group, noted that the company is very selective of their partners, and welcomed Issa on board as the latest franchisee.

“lt really is an amazing partnership and we are really blessed to have them with us and, by extension, our Ocho Rios franchise held by Marsha and Joshua Jhamani,” Matalon said.

At left, KLE Group’s majority shareholder, Joe Bogdanovich (left) with Olympian Usain Bolt. Pictured right, KLE Group CEO Gary Matalon speaks at the launch.

For Bolt, he was thankful to all the partners who has made the venture a successful one.

“I want to thank KLE Group, without them it wouldn’t be possible. They came to us with a great idea and we decided to get on board with it. Mr Issa, thanks, I think you did a great thing with the place. It’s actually wonderful,” the legendary sprinter said.

Meanwhile, Mark Hart, who represented Issa, said the restaurant will lead to the transformation of Gloucester Avenue, popularly called the hip strip.

Montego Bay’s mayor, Councillor Homer Davis and Director of Tourism Donovan White, who also welcomed the new restaurant, both concurred that the popular tourism area will be enhanced because of it.

KLE Group operates the UBTR restaurant at Marketplace in St Andrew. The first franchise, held by Marsha and Joshua Jhamani, was launched two years ago in Ocho Rios.

Meanwhile, KLE Group’s majority shareholder, Joe Bogdanovich, CEO of Downsound Entertainment (DSE), was among the notable businesspersons also on hand at the glitzy opening which took on a party like atmosphere.

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Spice to close Dancehall night?

May 14, 2018
Her scorching performance at Reggae Sumfest last year sparked debate on whether dancehall’s leading lady, Spice, was now the new Queen of Dancehall.

She impressed local and international media alike with her engaging set, with Vogue being among the first in the international sphere to place the dancehall crown on her head.

Fast-forward a year later and Reggae Sumfest organisers are considering Spice as this year’s closer on Dancehall Night.

Speaking with the STAR on the possibility, Reggae Sumfest’s Joe Bogdanovich described the ‘Queen of Stage’ as a phenomenal act who always brings something special to Sumfest.

“I believe Spice is a brilliant artiste whose performance gets better every year, and that in itself is phenomenal,” he said. “She is dynamic and a force to be reckoned with, one who isn’t hard to work with, and that’s why we keep bringing her back each year. Everything always runs so smoothly with Spice and you can always expect her to come with something spectacular.”

Bogdanovich admitted that when he booked Spice for the show, he wasn’t thinking of her for the closing act, but said as the show nears, he’s seeing more and more how fitting it would be to have her bring the curtains down on Dancehall Night 2018. “It’s a great idea, and we’re definitely going to reach out.

“We wouldn’t be surprised if she accepted because we have a good relationship, and Spice is one of those artistes who understand show business and what this would mean,” he said.

“Spice is at the peak of her career. She’s up there with the women who have made their mark on dancehall and she continues to represent the culture on an international level. She’s definitely up there with Lady Saw, who was one of the best to do it (close the show) over the years.”

PROVE THEIR WORTH

Speaking on that moment back in 2015 when Lady Saw closed the show, Bogdanovich expressed the need for more women to be given the opportunity to prove their worth on platforms such as Reggae Sumfest.

“I don’t have an answer for why more women haven’t been given that chance (to close the show), but I can say that the one woman who has did a phenomenal job, and I have no doubt that if Spice accepts, she will also give an outstanding performance. When given the chance, the women have always risen to the occasion. Spice is one such artiste, so regardless of where she performs, morning, noon or night, she’ll kill it,” he said.

Bogdanovich also explained the process behind getting an entertainer to close Sumfest’s dancehall night. He revealed that he has had encounters over the years that made him realise there are too many artistes who put money before culture. He said he has made it his point of duty to ensure that whoever closes Sumfest’s Dancehall Night understands that it is less about the money and more about the music.

“I’m trying to get people to understand the importance of Jamaican music. We should embrace culture like the rest of the world does and support each other and not price ourselves out of the music,” he said, pointing out that closing dancehall night on the ‘Greatest Show on Earth’ should be seen as a great opportunity for any artiste.

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How Tuna Fish Heir & Reggae Sumfest Owner Josef Bogdanovich Became One of Jamaican Music’s Biggest Advocates

Josef Bogdanovich and Robert Russell

“How can a country with just 3 million people receive so much recognition from people of so many different nationalities? Has anyone figured that out?” Bogdanovich asked. Struggling to be heard above the conversations fueled by the complimentary Red Stripe beer (Sumfest’s title sponsor) served at the bar of Lower East Side venue The DL, Bogdanovich, an American businessman whose experience in the entertainment industry dates back to the 1970s, raised his voice to a thunderous pitch.

“Yo! Have you figured it out yet? We must understand the power of this music and this festival. We must understand the economics of survival and acknowledge that unity is one of the keys to survival. Get educated! Stop the violence! Let’s celebrate unity and togetherness and show just how serious we are about our music, our festival, Reggae Sumfest.”

Montego Bay, Jamaica. 
Montego Bay, Jamaica’s Rising Violence Mirrors Past Troubles — With Music as a Balm

Bogdanovich’s plea to stop the violence refers to the spiraling gang-related murders/reprisal killings in and around Montego Bay stemming from notorious lottery scamming operations. In January 2018, the Jamaican government declared a state of emergency in St. James Parish, where Montego Bay is located, which remains in effect five months later.

Inaugurated in August 1993 at Montego Bay’s Catherine Hall as a vehicle to boost tourism during the summer’s low visitor arrivals season — and as a replacement for its predecessor Reggae Sunsplash, which had relocated to the outskirts of Kingston the same year — Reggae Sumfest has attracted thousands of visitors to Jamaica and generated millions for the island’s economy.

Artists like 50 CentCommonDestiny’s ChildNe-YoNicki MinajLionel RichieRihanna and Kanye West and other American superstars have headlined Sumfest over the years, but it’s reggae that dominates. Many Jamaican artists’ careers have been launched, ascended to the next level or generated interest far beyond the island’s shores directly from the festival’s stage. The legendary Toots and The Maytals, veteran Rastafarian roots singer Burning Spear, dancehall superstars Shaggy and Sean Paul and millennial reggae acts Chronixx and Raging Fyah are among the diverse Jamaican talent that have appeared on the Sumfest stage.

Artists’ escalating costs, juxtaposed with the devaluation of the Jamaican dollar, as well as competition with European summer reggae festivals looking to secure the most popular Jamaican acts, yielded an uncertain future for Reggae Sumfest 2016, which prompted one of the Sumfest founders, Robert Russell, to recommended Bogdanovich as an investor.

“We knew we would have had to scale back Sumfest quite a bit because we reached a point where we couldn’t afford the foreign [American] acts’ prices anymore as the festival’s sponsorship diminished,” Russell told Billboard while in Manhattan for the Sumfest launch. “I initially suggested that Joe get involved as an investor, but then I suggested he buy the festival so he didn’t have to contend with those shareholders who weren’t prepared to move forward and put more money into it, even though they have been reaping the benefits for many years. Joe agreed to buy it [for an undisclosed sum] with the condition that I remain involved, because he needed someone who knew the ropes.”

Los Angeles born and raised Bogdanovich — just “Joe” to his friends and colleagues — began visiting Jamaica in the early 1990s before settling in the island’s capital, Kingston, in 1999. He’s the grandson of the late Martin J. Bogdanovich, the founder of StarKist foods; as an heir to that affluence, Bogdanovich could have invested his resources in any number of entertainment endeavors, anywhere in the world. Yet he chose Jamaica and its reggae and dancehall music, which haven’t yielded financial returns for the island and its artists commensurate with their pervasive influence on popular culture.

“No one gets into this for the money, we do it out of passion, for the love of the music,” Bogdanovich told Billboard in New York, on the evening prior to Sumfest’s April 17th launch.

Bogdanovich, who worked as a film screenwriter, producer and director before turning to music, learned the rigors of the entertainment business from his older brother, Robert, a co-founder of Los Angeles-based Pacific Presentations, one of the largest concert promotion companies of the 1970s. He started the Acid Jazz record label in Los Angeles in 1992, focusing on dance music; a year later he founded Downsound Records. By 1995, Bogdanovich had established a Downsound office in Kingston and ever since, the label has signed and/or released music from an eclectic array of reggae and dancehall artists, charting a musical identity that is as flamboyant, unpredictable and occasionally controversial as Bogdanovich and his wider business moves.

Amidst the resurgence in roots reggae in Jamaica in the mid 2000s, Downsound Records found success with Rastafarian reggae artist Fantan Mojah, especially his meditative chant “Hail The King,” featuring veteran master drummer Bongo Herman, its video directed by Bogdanovich.

Bogdanovich/Downsound were involved in the career of singer Jah Cure, who rose to stardom while serving a 12-year sentence following a rape conviction, the result of what many argue was a biased trial. In 2006, Bogdanovich produced the song and directed the video for what best summarizes Jah Cure’s saga, one of the biggest reggae stories of the 2000s, “True Reflections (Behind These Prison Walls),” which Cure recorded behind bars.

In 2013, Bogdanovich signed and brought resurgent interest to the iconic but troubled deejay Ninja Man, considered the king of clashing (a prototype of hip-hop’s MC battles) since the 1980s. Ninja Man, an admitted crack cocaine user, teamed up with Downsound’s younger signee Specialist as they sparred for generational supremacy on the popular dancehall single “Dweet“; Bogdanovich directed the song’s video and has a speaking role in its opening scenes.

Ninja Man parted ways with Downsound in 2015, was found guilty of a 2009 murder in 2017, and is now serving a life sentence.

Some Downsound artists’ well-publicized, occasionally-acrimonious departures from the label — including Fantan Mojah, deejay Foota Hype, sing-jay Nature and especially female dancehall artist Ishawna — have provided plenty of fodder for Jamaican tabloids and reggae gossip sites. Unsurprisingly, Bogdanovich now prioritizes other entertainment activities over his label pursuits. “We are not really interested in artists now because they sell us out; we’ve been shortchanged so many times that it’s irresponsible for me to spend my time and resources on them,” Bogdanovich said. “We lost a lot of years where my time could have been better spent for the industry, and that is in concert promotion and production.”

Over the past four years, Bogdanovich has elevated his corporate profile with several multimillion-dollar investments in Jamaica. He is a major shareholder in the KLE Group, which operates Usain Bolt‘s Tracks & Records, the popular sports bar/restaurant co-owned by the celebrated Olympian. Bogdanovich also acquired Hardware & Lumber, the island’s largest retail hardware chain, in 2016.

In 2017, Bogdanovich established “Caribbean Love Now” to aid Caribbean islands ravaged by Hurricanes Irma and Maria. Caribbean Love Now held its inaugural fundraising concert, Jamathon, in November, featuring 30 primarily Jamaican acts, all of whom donated their time for the event. Bogdanovich wouldn’t disclose how much was raised from Jamathon, which is slated to be an annual event, but the organization has already sent containers of relief supplies to the Eastern Caribbean island of Dominica; Bogdanovich and a Jamaican team are scheduled to visit Dominica later in the year to oversee the rebuilding of a school and hospital there. The official song for the Caribbean Love Now campaign, “Carry On,” features an all-star Jamaican cast including Tessanne Chin (season 5 winner of NBC’s The Voice), Tarrus Riley and Chronixx, produced by Sean DiedrickDean Fraser and Sherieta Lewis, for Downsound Records.

But the brightest jewel in Bogdanovich’s glittering collection of acquisitions — and potentially its most valuable — is Reggae Sumfest. Since taking the reins in 2016, he’s introduced HD live streaming and a 360 virtual reality access app, which he says generated 60 million digital impressions in 2017, three times more than 2016. Bogdanovich has expanded the now 26-year-old festival to eight days this year (July 15-22), which will include the inaugural Sumfest Inspire Awards, given to industry practitioners; a reggae business symposium; and an international sound system clash, World Clash, organized by preeminent sound system promoters Irish and Chin.

Downsound Entertainment has pioneered a reciprocal promotion strategy between Sumfest and Damian Marley’s Welcome to Jamrock Reggae Cruise, which celebrates its fifth anniversary this year (Dec. 1-5). Most significant of all, Bogdanovich has jettisoned American headliners from Sumfest’s concerts, Festival Nights 1 and 2.

“We use the slogan ‘our music, our festival’ because we’ve reinstated Jamaicans as Sumfest’s international stars,” says Bogdanovich of the lineup, which includes legendary vocalist Beres Hammond; English-Jamaican singer Maxi Priest; dancehall stars Popcaan and Aidonia; Fantan Mojah; Rastafarian chanter Sizzla; longtime Downsound artist Harry Toddler; and Marley. “I want to highlight reggae and dancehall, to bring more business to Jamaica because it’s a great, blessed island,” Bogdanovich says. “And I am doing everything I can to support it.”

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Reggae Sumfest Goes Larger – Three More Launches Before Weeklong Staging Begin

With the goal being to develop Reggae Sumfest to rival mega-fests like Coachella (California, USA), AfroPunk (started in Brooklyn, New York, USA) or Glastonbury (England), by inviting a pilgrimage of reggae and dancehall music lovers to Montego Bay annually, principal Joe Bogdanovich reiterated his determination to continuously develop the show’s offerings by spreading the festivities across an entire week.

While the main events will be Dancehall Night (scheduled for Friday, July 20, this year) and Reggae Night (Saturday, July 21), Bogdanovich revealed at a rap session on Wednesday in Kingston that patrons are welcome to enjoy additional features like beach parties, a festival ‘mall’ and an educational symposium.

The 2018 festival had its first launch event in New York in April and, before the opening bell, there will be three more. On May 16, the festival will launch in Montego Bay, before traversing to Kingston on May 30. Finally, Reggae Sumfest will make its way to Wynwood Art Walk for the fourth launch in Miami, Florida, on June 9.

To kick off the weeklong activities is the Sumfest Colorfest Beach Party on Sunday July 15, hosted by Yanique ‘Curvy Diva’ Barrett. The next day will be the Sumfest Street Jam: I Love MoBay, at the Old Hospital Park.

Maintaining the elimination of International Night, Reggae Sumfest has still created a space for an international showcase, so on Tuesday, July 17, the Sumfest All-White Party will return to Pier 1, followed by Sumfest Blitz on Wednesday, July 18, at the Hard Rock CafÈ. It will be hosted by Love and Hip-Hop star Safaree, with a performance by Britain’s Steff London.

Fresh in the line-up is the Reggae Industry Symposium, where the Dance Xpressionz crew will host a ‘learn-to-dance’ workshop. Also proposed for that event is a workshop on how to juggle reggae and dancehall music, as well as a panel discussion focused on women in dancehall. The symposium is scheduled to take on the morning of Friday, July 20, before Dancehall Night.

Improving upon the food court introduced last year, the brand is prepared to take the event to the next level with the introduction of the Sumfest Mall. It is expected that there will be 16 shops in operation, selling wares from Jamaica artisans such as painters, sculptors and jewellers.

During the media rap session, senior producer of DownSound Entertainment, Cordell ‘Skatta’ Burrell, spoke on the power of the brand’s social media marketing. Last year, there were a number of skits produced for social media, encouraging patrons to attend the event. From all those efforts, the team reports that Reggae Sumfest made 65 million online impressions.

This year, the social media campaign began as early as January 1, with flyers of acts who were already confirmed for the show. Burrell reports that the effort has garnered positive results, with international patrons booking tickets – sans radio or television presence. The organisers have even wrapped ‘dollar’ vans in New York to pull more international eyes to the upcoming summer festival.

Slated to take the stage on Dancehall Night are Sizzla, Popcaan, Aidonia, Bounty Killer, Spice, Harry Toddler, Agent Sasco, Shane O, Tosh Alexander, Tommy Lee, Dance Xpressionz, Rygin King, Jah Fabio, D-Major and Kemar Hicon, Accid, Vanzo, Govana, Presskay and Stonebwoy (Ghana). Reggae Night will feature performances by Beres Hammond, Damian ‘Jr Gong’ Marley, Maxi Priest, Capleton, Cham, Fantan Mojah, J Boog; Keznamdi, Stushi, D’Yani, Jah Dore, Jesse Royal, Raging Fyah, Naomi Cowan and Empress Ayeola.

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Reggae Sumfest 2018: A Week-Long Reggae Party in Paradise


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Reggae Sumfest & Downsound Entertainment have set the bar for Reggae events sky-high with the Week-Long Sumfest Event Schedule for 2018! 

Reggae fans from around the world are already scooping up their tickets to the hottest week in Reggae & Dancehall and will arrive in Montego Bay by July 15th to experience the festival of a lifetime.

Pre-Events Include:

The Colorfest Beach Party on July 15 at Tropical Bliss Beach

The Free Street Dance and Party on July 16 on the Hip Strip

The All White Party at Pier One on July 17

The Blitz Party at The Hard Rock Cafe with inclusive food and drinks on July 18

The 20th Anniversary of Irish & Chin’s World Clash on July 19 at the Pier One Event Centre

Reggae Sumfest

The Main Festival Nights on July 20 & 21 at Catherine Hall Entertainment Center features the greatest stars of Reggae and Dancehall ~ all night long!

The Festival Week winds up with a 7am Tailgate Party at Dump Up Beach, called Morning Meds.

 Advance Tickets Now On Sale for All Reggae Sumfest Events…And don’t forget to print out your free tickets to the big Street Dance on the Hip Strip Monday July 16…. Don’t miss out….The Ultra VIP with Seat Tickets are going fast…As well as VIP Tickets…and GA….Reggae Sumfest 2018 looks like it is heading to a sellout. 

The festival will again be live-streamed in high-definition video.

Reggae Sumfest has become the most watched Reggae & Dancehall festival in the world….Don’t miss it!

 

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Reggae Sumfest Street Dance – July 16th 2018, 7:00 PM

Location: The Hip Strip – Montego Bay JM
Admission: $0
Reggae Sumfest Presents: Street Dance. Music By: Team Shella & Noah Powa. Monday Jul 16, 2018 from 7pm – 2am. Adm: Free.
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No Sumfest Worries – Joe says state of emergency won’t affect festival

Kimberley Small

May 03, 2018
 
Despite the extension of the state of emergency in St. James until the end of July, Joe Bogdanovich, principal of Reggae Sumfest and CEO of Downsound Entertainment, is unconcerned about its likely impact on the showpiece event.

Bogdanovich told THE STAR yesterday that he expects the festival nights to extend into the following mornings, as is customary at Sumfest.

“I think we’re OK we have no restrictions on Friday and Saturday night,” he said.

Clubs and fast-food restaurants under the State of Emergency in St James are required to close their doors by 2 a.m. Bogdanovich said that the pre-events for Reggae Sumfest will close by that time.

Parliament this week voted to extend the State of Emergency by 90 days, which means that it will not be business as usual in St James this summer.

The 26th anniversary of Reggae Sumfest is scheduled to take place in Montego Bay, St James on July 15-22. The State of Emergency is scheduled to end on July 31.

Citing strong relationships with the municipal authorities and the Jamaica Tourist Board, Bogdanovich does not believe that the extension will impede the festival’s execution.

“I think that people are proud of their city and country, and want to support the country and support reggae music through Reggae Sumfest, and other festivals that have the same message of ‘unity through music’,” he continued.

The entrepreneur expressed faith in the extended operations and opined that sensibilities of ‘Montegonians’ are returning to normal.

“I think that there’s no question that there is more safety in the country now. People are really welcoming this extension the people that live and work there everybody is feeling a sense of normalcy in terms of feeling more comfortable and safe.”

“We’ve never had a problem with safety in the Sumfest area and I think that won’t change. We have a lot of support from the Mayor and from the Jamaica Tourist Board. Everybody in the heat of the summer understands that Montego Bay is important as the second city, it’s the biggest tourist destination in Jamaica,” Bogdanovich told THE STAR.

 

TOP ACTS BOOKED FOR SUMFEST:

 

 

Dancehall Night:

Sizzla, Popcaan, Aidonia, Bounty Killa, Harry Toddla, Agent Sasco, Shane O, Tosh Alexander, Tommy Lee, Dance Xpressionz, Rygin King, Govana and Stonebwoy (Ghana)

Reggae Night:

Beres Hammond, Damian Marley, Capleton, Cham, Fantan Mojah, J Boog, Jah Dore, Jesse Royal, Raging Fyah, Naomi Cowan, Empress Ayeola

 

 

 

 

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