Garfield “Ras Shorty I” Blackman left a treasure trove of music for TT. The artiste gave the country Shanti Om, Watch Out My Children; Endless Vibration; Money Eh No Problem; Sweet Music and lots more.
A remembrance event is being held this Sunday in honour of his life and work. Ras Shorty I’s 20th remembrance: The Gathering Farmers Market and Jam Session will be held at the Blackman Ranch, Piparo from 12 pm - 8 pm.
It is free to the public and will feature an array of performers including Nailah Blackman and Sokah, Abbi Blackman, Sheldon Blackman, Nigel Rojas and Orange Sky and the 2020 Panorama winners, Desperadoes Steel Orchestra.
Sheldon Blackman said in a phone interview, “He died on July 12, 2000. This would be the exact date, 20 years later. Originally we were planning the Friendship Festival and that would have been part of the Friendship Festival but because of covid19 we had to cancel the festival.
“So we thought we would just focus on having a remembrance. A gathering of family, friends and supporters.”
He added that a farmers market was started on the ranch which was also closed because of the pandemic.
“As the whole process is beginning to open up enough to allow for the farmers market to reopen, we have reopened the ranch that is effective with this event.”
Blackman said it is being held in a large outdoor space and that allows for adequate physical distancing.
“We contacted the Ministry of Health and they came for a site visit yesterday (July 8) to ensure that we follow the full guidelines.”
Blackman added that the WHO guidelines for gatherings were researched and specific areas have been cordoned off with no more than groups of 25 people congregating to allow for proper physical distancing.
People will be required to wear masks and wash hands. He added that all of the health guidelines will be adhered to.
Blackman said the event is an “opportunity to see how entertainment and events can function with the easing of restrictions.”
He said the organisers are hoping this will be a template going forward.
All performers at the event will do so voluntarily.
“My father has affected the whole landscape of TT’s music and culture. He has had a tremendous impact and this shows in the people who have all volunteered.”
The performers will do one or more of Ras Shorty I’s songs.
“That is what it is all about. We are coming together and having a remembrance of his life and the work that he did. And we can’t do that without music because that is what he is.”
He said it also could not be done without understanding the power of agriculture because Ras Shorty I was a farmer.
“The last 20 years of his life he spent growing food and being self-sufficient. He really taught that to us and we want to carry that on. That is why it is so fitting to have this as part of the farmers market. In a way, that is also honouring him.”
He said covid19 taught TT that growing one’s own food and being self-sufficient is such an important thing.
Food, craft and plants will be on sale and there will be a contribution box.