Making a huge splash
A new venue and some fresh talent — Chronixx will perform at Cup Match Summer Splash this year.
The Grammy-nominated reggae artist takes the stage on August 1, Cup Match Eve.
Meanwhile, Beres Hammond, the man “who started it all” five years ago, kicks off the “star-studded line-up” with the Harmony House Band on Saturday, July 28.
It is the latest coup for organisers 441 Productions and Veterans in Action who last year brought in Grammy Award-winning Sean Paul for the annual event. Previous acts include Collie Buddz, Tarrus Riley, Morgan Heritage, Barrington Levy and Major Lazer.
“The response has been wonderful,” said Declan Harris. “We've brought a level of talent that has made it a bit easier for people to embrace. If you bring the talent and you put on a quality production, then people tend to come back.”
Summer Splash will this year move to the National Sports Centre's South Field to “grow the event and enhance the patron's experience”.
“We're very thankful to the city for their support [but] we've exhausted the capacity limits of Par-la-Ville car park,” Mr Harris said.
“When people offer customer feedback, we listen. We want people to have the full experience with a big stage.”
General admission ticket holders can choose between the covered grandstand or the field. Large screens will be placed on either side of the stage and behind the audio tent — Great Sound's “world-class set-up”.
“There will always be people that will say, ‘What about Rihanna? What about Drake?' They will,” Mr Harris said.
“We would love to be able to bring performers of that magnitude, but it's a numbers game. The top A-list performers — most of them play in arenas. What's the most people you're going to get to an event in Bermuda? My number is 4,000 and that's a huge number.”
Last year, more than 4,000 people turned out for Sean Paul. With the holiday on its heels, Cup Match Eve is typically the biggest draw.
“This year I wouldn't be surprised if we get a lot more than 4,000 with the new venue,” Mr Harris said. “Especially as we remain central.
“Bermudians choose their sides well in advance of Cup Match. You can come from either end to celebrate; if not one of the biggest holidays in Bermuda certainly from an historical standpoint, a very important day.”
That historical significance was key in securing Chronixx and the Zinc Fence Redemption.
“We talked about Emancipation Day, the significance; not only his music, but also his lifestyle is tied very closely to his African heritage and the diaspora. He told us he was excited that he could be part of our Emancipation Day celebration.”
The Jamaican musician has been credited for bringing his country's reggae roots culture to the younger generation with singles influenced by reggae, dancehall, folk and hip-hop. Chronixx, who sang gospel in his church choir as a child, is the son of dancehall artist Chronicle. His debut album, Chronology, was released to critical acclaim last year. It received a Best Reggae Album Grammy nomination and made Rolling Stone's list of the Top 50 albums of 2017.
“He's part of what fans of reggae music call reggae revival,” Mr Harris said of the 25-year-old whose career took off after a performance on the Jimmy Fallon Show in 2014.
“It's a throwback to a more cultural reggae, a softer reggae, if you will. It's hugely popular throughout demographics. He'll do a 60,000-80,000 person show in Germany or Italy; he's been to New Zealand.”
The music promoter learnt a lot from the late Choy Aming, for whom he had “great admiration”. He also named Kent Outerbridge of Dub City Records as “a great inspiration” and “friend”.
“The biggest events that I remember are the Eddie DeMello productions with Byron Lee,” he said of the annual soca concerts that ended with the well-known artist's death in 2007.
“Those stand out to me probably the most. They were around Cup Match time and I just remember the energy level they brought.
“In enjoying those things I asked, ‘Can I do this myself?' I think that goes for all three of us.”
The 48-year-old partnered with Rowan Ramotar to form Veterans in Action 15 years ago. Yellowman, Sugar Minott, Admiral Bailey and Johnny Osborne are among the many reggae artists they have brought here.
“Veterans in Action has, over the years, historically done a lot of nostalgic reggae events. It's a good mesh of our talents,” Mr Harris said.
“We've always tried to make improvements and it's not always perfect. We always try to look at how we could do it a little different. I always make a point of thanking the patrons because, ultimately, if they don't come out, then it makes it that much more difficult to do something again.”
Tickets for Summer Splash are available on www.bdatix.bm. Early-bird tickets are $100 for general admission and $300 for VIP