Mon | Jul 15, 2024

Despite challenges, Sashi Live ‘exceeds expectations’

Organisers thrilled at tourism boost; ready for 2025

Published:Monday | May 27, 2024 | 12:09 AMYasmine Peru/Senior Gleaner Writer
Ne-Yo thrilling fans at Sashi Live at Plantation Cove in Ocho Rios on Saturday.
Ne-Yo thrilling fans at Sashi Live at Plantation Cove in Ocho Rios on Saturday.
Bounty Killer performing at Sashi Live at Grizzly’s Plantation Cove, St Ann.
Bounty Killer performing at Sashi Live at Grizzly’s Plantation Cove, St Ann.
Jadakiss in control of the Sashi stage.
Jadakiss in control of the Sashi stage.
Excited fans capture the 'Instagram-able' moments at Sashi Live.
Excited fans capture the 'Instagram-able' moments at Sashi Live.

With two of Saturday night’s major acts – Busta Rhymes and Keyshia Cole – pulling out at the last minute, the organisers of Sashi Live went into damage control mode, opted for honesty by informing patrons of the news, and by Sunday morning there was a flurry of press releases.

One of the releases shared that there would be a free Sashi Beach Party with Tommy Lee for loyal festival-goers on Sunday. This offer, the organisers of the music festival said, would be “valid for all patrons who present a wristband from any of the three previous Sashi events at the Plantation Cove entrance”. Another release used the headline: ‘Sashi Live triumphs amidst challenges, boosts Jamaican tourism and economy’.

Pledging their commitment to “delivering world-class entertainment ... showcasing Jamaican talent, boosting tourism, and supporting the local economy” and highlighting their ability to “overcome unforeseen challenges to create a memorable experience for both local and international attendees”, the Sashi Live team is ready for its 2025 staging.

“Yes ... Sashi is on for next year,” Kibwe McGann, strategist in charge of communications, told The Gleaner.

Quizzed if the festival’s credibility will be questioned with the pullout of the two acts, McGann did not hesitate to answer.

“For sure people are going to question credibility. But many persons can appreciate that in show business these things do happen,” McGann said, adding that sometimes artistes, for one reason or another, are no-shows at events.

He added, “And ... people will also appreciate that Sashi kept its word and delivered a great show. When we had a surprise act as big as Wyclef step in ... and he jumped in the crowd and connected with the audience and brought his iconic energy and star power to the stage.”

The organisers stated in a release that despite the absence of international rapper Busta Rhymes and R&B singer, Keyshia Cole, Sashi Live “exceeded expectations, showcasing a dynamic line-up of talent that electrified the crowd and reinforced Jamaica’s status as a global music powerhouse”.

On the line-up were international stars Ne-Yo and Jadakiss, alongside dancehall legend Bounty Killer, Valiant, Skeng, Rajah Wild, and 10 Tik whose performances proved to be the panacea. Notably, also, following news of the no-shows, some patrons had their tickets upgraded to VIP courtesy of the Sashi Live organisers.

“The event’s success, despite heavy rains that caused initial delays, underscored the dedication of organisers and the unwavering enthusiasm of music fans,” the Sashi team stated.

McGann was happy too, at the audience make-up. He highlighted that the hotel and Airb&b sector in Ocho Rios and its surroundings enjoyed great business and he and his team were awaiting final figures from the Jamaica Tourist Board.

“It’s funny, a lot of people Saturday night were not necessarily overseas citizens ... a lot of them were Jamaicans who don’t live here. A considerable number people came home for Sashi ... for the nostalgia, “ McGann shared.

He pointed out that with Monday being a public holiday in the United States, Memorial Day, the promoters were intentional in choosing the date for the festival.

“Sashi Live is more than just a music festival; it’s a celebration of Jamaican culture and a testament to the resilience and creativity of our people. We are thrilled with the overwhelming response from both local and international patrons, and we are proud of the positive impact this event has had on our tourist industry and local economy,” said Horatio Hamilton, founder of Sashi Festival.

Sashi Live generated employment opportunities for stagehands, vendors, security personnel, hospitality workers. The event, the organisers said, also stimulated local businesses, as food vendors, transportation providers, and other service providers saw increased demand throughout the festival weekend.

Held over the course of four days, from May 23 to May 26, Sashi Live was a pot-pourri of fashion shows, business conferences, a concert, and a beach party. It was first staged in 1999, with a plethora of A-list superstars and celebrities and who jetted into the island – some of them accompanied by their over-the-top, expensive vehicles – for an event that was liberally sprinkled with magical stardust. Sashi was last staged in 2002.