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US promoters worried over artistes visa woes

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Sadeke Brooks, Staff Reporter

( l - r ) Mavado, Beenie Man, Bounty Killer

With the United States visa of several artistes being revoked, promoters of reggae and dancehall events in the United States are very worried.

Only last week, the Fraud Prevention Arm of the United States Embassy in Kingston, in a document obtained by THE STAR, said the visas of Bounty Killer, Mavado, Beenie Man, Aidonia and selector Ricky Trooper were in the process of being cancelled. This only adds to the list of top local artistes, including Busy Signal and Vybz Kartel, who no longer hold US visas.

The news shocked many people in the reggae/dancehall industry, especially promoters in the US who regularly host shows with these artistes.

Bobby Clarke, CEO of Irie Jam Media, said he is concerned about the future of his event, Irie Jamboree, and other events that are held in New York.

"As a promoter, I am very concerned, very nervous. I am very unsure of the future promotions of reggae events in the New York area. This is a very sad day in the history of reggae. About 85 per cent of the people named for revocation were acts we were in negotiations with.," he said.

Adding, "The promotion (of Irie Jamboree) would not be effective if we don't confirm artistes early. If we don't have anything confirmed, we can't promote," he said of the event that is scheduled for September.

not pleased

"I am hoping that it will be resolved as soon as possible. We need to find a way to fix our industry that we started."

Clarke said the timing was especially bad for his counterpart in Florida, Jabba, who will be hosting Best of the Best in May.

While he remains optimistic, Clarke said he is not pleased with the situation and how it will affect everyone.

"We are deeply saddened by the loss of revenue for anybody in this music fraternity," he said noting that a lot of people depend on these entertainers for their survival.

In the meantime, he said promoters will have to find alternatives for events like using sound systems.

An alternative is what G City, of Road Block Radio in New Jersey, said one of his associates will have to find if he is to host his show this week, as the two headliners were Bounty Killer and Beenie Man.

"They are basically fishing around to try and find a substitution," he said.

With his event, New Jersey Fest scheduled for August, G City is also in a tight spot.

"It is gonna affect us tremendously. This is a big setback for the concert community in the tri-state area. We wish all the artistes a speedy recovery 'cause of course it's a damage right now. That's gonna be a big blow for the dancehall/reggae scene. Summer time is when they put in a lot of their work," he told THE STAR.

Dave Rodney, a media and events marketing consultant, said the timing was especially bad.

"It is not good news at all. It comes at a bad time. It comes when tours are being prepared for the summer season," said Rodney, who has worked with events like Irie Jamboree, World Creole Music Festival, New Jersey Reggae Fest and Sweet Auburn Spring Festival.

"The economy is still bad, so concert promoters had already been hurting in terms of trying to bring out maximum numbers. If there are more cancellations, it will be a big blow for the reggae concert circuit."

Rodney said people are already spending less of their income on entertainment. In addition, he said it is hard to get sponsorship for events in the very challenging economy.

"It really makes the tour circuit very challenging. It paints a grim situation for reggae," he told THE STAR.

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