It is 2am on Tuesday at a mechanic’s shop in Kingston, Jamaica. The car park is full of people. Speaker stacks tower in each corner and dancehall fills the air. Suddenly, the sound system cuts and the selector announces that he is going to play a song – one of his favourites. After a blast of ray gun and air horn sound effects, the soft piano opening of Shania Twain’s You’re Still the One starts up. When it gets to the chorus, the tune gets a rewind, a common response to a crowd-pleaser, even if it is a pop-country ballad from 1998.
Last year, posters on the streets of Brooklyn, New York, announced the lineup for the Groovin’ in the Park reggae festival. It included classic reggae favourites such as Marcia Griffiths, Judy Mowatt and Bob Andy alongside new-generation roots singer Chronixx and lovers rock star Beres Hammond. But the headline act was Aussie soft-rockers Air Supply.