August 2008

Byron Lee and the Dragonaires
August 2, 2008 Queens Park Toronto
Report by Afro P. with photo by Roger Humbert
Queens Park and Nathan Phillips Square were alive on the night of the Caribana parade with the vibrations of The Irie Music Festival. The festival was sponsored mainly by TD Canada Trust and ran from August 1st to 4th. Created as a unifying symbol of Toronto's diversity, IRIE Fest is an opportunity to promote a greater understanding between the diverse cultures and traditions of our world-class city. The festival is a multi-disciplinary event featuring arts, crafts, children’s activities, dance, film, a marketplace, a tropical food fair, demonstrations, live music and more.

The IRIE Music Fest was a great alternative to the crowds found along the parade route of Caribana. On Saturday August 2nd, 2008, Byron Lee and the Dragonaires touched down at Queens Park to give Toronto a free show as part of the festivities. You have to give it up to the organizers who have managed to bring such an open and welcoming festival for the past seven years to the city. Open and welcoming was the theme of the Dragonaires whose members come from many areas of the Caribbean. This all for one approach to music had young and old waving flags and jumping. The show opened with the Dragonaires covering many renditions of classic reggae, Soca, and Calypso tunes to get the crowd warmed. The show was high energy which is the staple environment at a Bryon Lee show. The Dragonaires had the crowd doing dances such as the ‘Jerk Chicken’ which had the crowd clacking like chickens.

Byron Lee
Foresight and professionalism are just a couple of the qualities that are used to describe a man many call the Dragon. The name Byron Lee to many means a man who can take an idea and market it with a sales force as competent as any major corporation. He is undoubtedly one of Jamaica’s finest musical ambassadors and with 46 years of experience and over 150 awards he continues to command respect and admiration world-wide.

Byron Lee and the Dragonaires played a crucial pioneering role in bringing Jamaican music to the world. Since 1956 and playing a big band-ska sound the Dragon’s big break came in the first James Bond film, Dr. No, where the Dragonaires appeared as the band in the scene at Pussfeller's club. As successful as the band was, Byron was also having success as a promoter, owner of the Dynamic Sounds label, and studio owner, and was one of the biggest reasons for the explosion in popularity of Jamaican music in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

We welcome your comments and feedback
Afro P.
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Roger Humbert
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The Live Music Report

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