Inaugural Merritone on the Beach to celebrate Ja’s diamond jubilee
Ernie Smith, Boris Gardiner and more to perform
Musical excellence will sweep the shores at Marley Beach in Boscobel, St Mary, when Merritone Music presents its inaugural Merritone on the Beach event on July 31.
The concert, set to kick-start an islandwide series which will celebrate Jamaica’s diamond jubilee milestone, will feature performances by two of Jamaica’s finest vocalists Boris Gardiner and Ernie Smith, as well as The Desi Jones Band.
“I can’t think of a better line-up,” Merritone’s Monte Blake told The Gleaner. “We’ve lost so many souls in the music industry and it’s not a lot of that built that you see budding and coming up, and we would like people to catch these people while they’re here. Ernie is a showman of class, Boris is probably one of the best voices in Jamaica, and, of course, Merritone has been here for 72 years so we know what it is… We’re hoping that folks will come out and bring their family and friends. It’s a holiday weekend, it’s Sunday after church, and it’s a beautiful setting by the sea. Can you imagine that with good music?”
Blake added that the event also aims to strike a balance in the musical messages permeating society by highlighting that which is good and wholesome.
Concurring was Smith, who will be premiering The Ernie Smith 55th Anniversary Project during his set, a song dedicated to the nation’s 60th anniversary feat, but also a nod to his 55 years in the business. The Grub Cooper-produced track features esteemed cabaret singer Gem Myers who will be a special guest at the event.
“It’s time to be in the same festival season because it’s a celebration of how far we’ve come, but it’s also a very reflective look at what we’ve done and what we’ve achieved and how mankind has treated mankind over all these years, so, I’m really looking forward to that,” Smith told The Gleaner.
He’s not just loved for his golden baritone vocals, but also respected as a songwriter, having penned hits like the winning 1974 festival song Play De Music performed by Tinga Stewart. With the upcoming project, “we’re really trying to make another mark that so many of us have come through the music industry here and are good songwriters that have something to say”.
Gardiner is also a winning festival song writer for Heather Grant’s Mek We Put Things Right (1992), but has something else in mind for the upcoming event.
“We’re looking forward to it and really singing some of the hits of the past cause I know it will be an elderly crowd and they’ll want to hear certain songs that they haven’t heard in many moons,” Gardiner told The Gleaner. “Some of the songs I’ll be singing are Wilfred Edwards’ Tell Me Darling, Johnny Ace’s Pledging My Love, Green Green Grass of Home by Tom Jones, and of course, requests for Jean, This Old House and my big hit I Wanna Wake Up With You. If they are in the mood, I can do Oh My Commanding Wife.”
The performance will be especially special for the crooner, who says it’ll be his first local set in a few years due to the impact of the pandemic.
“Ernie and myself, we don’t perform together very often and it will be a treat because we look at ourselves as the seniors in the business now and we’ve been very successful through the years. There are lots of songs and hits that the people know, and I’m sure coming out and hearing them would bring back wonderful memories, so, I’d hope that we’ll have a great crowd. I’m asking them all to come on out and enjoy the day.”
Gates open at 3 p.m. with a 7 p.m. showtime start. Tickets are available at Fontana Pharmacy at Waterloo Square, Kingston and Ocho Rios, St Ann.