Amala's View

Sunday, April 29, 2012

The People's Champion vs The Bacchanalist

By the time the first artiste hit the stage, the crowd was throughly prepped and ready to continue partying. Platinum Sounds and Jason Benn had managed to get all patrons onto the dancefloor and essentially in front of the stage. Brooklyn-based artiste Kuttit led the charge with his branded tshirt, he refers to himself as Mr Soca, Sex & Alcohol, just like the tshirt said! He did two tunes and exited to make way for Benjai. There was frenzied anticipation and from the time his name was announced, there were shouts of “see me yah” his familiar refrain. Simply clad, in black tshirt and jeans he begun to entertain the crowd. On the second song, he enlisted the help of Scarface much to the delight of the audience who sang ‘By D Bar’ word for word. Scarface stayed on a little longer and they continued to spar. By track number 5, Benjai reminded us that it was “The People’s Champion vs The Bacchanalist” what is soca without competition? Mr Bacchanalist Kerwin Dubois, fresh off his fantastic year at Trinidad’s carnival took to the stage and was very engaging. He sang the popular duets that he wrote for himself and Destra, and himself and Patrice, the crowd easily filling in for Destra and Patrice much to his delight. Still extremely confident from his recent successes, Kerwin belted out hit after hit then called Benjai back. Benjai launched into his 2012 big tracks, then Kerwin was back, because he is a bacchanalist! What a lovely time in soca music, Tropical Paradise was packed to capacity and by all accounts, when The People’s Champion meets The Bacchanalist, if you think that de soca done, is more soca to come cause we fed up ah de same ting, over and over!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

You are involved

I've watched from afar, the campaigning that went on for months now comes to a heated close in two Caribbean nations. Interestingly enough there are more similarities than differences. Similarities between countries and similarities to times gone by. We like to say the more things, the more they stay the same. As the voting day draws nigh, know with certainty that you are involved, know that your vote makes a difference and know beyond anything that it is a right you must exercise. For to abstain from voting, if you're in a position to, really casts a long shadow on the future of your nation from a time such as now when you have a voice. Do you want that shadow to be behind you in your children's time? Vote. Remember you are involved.

Martin Carter lived in a turbulent political time and this piece is as true today as it was in the early 1950s when he penned it.

You are involved

This I have learnt:
today a speck
tomorrow a hero
hero or monster
you are consumed

Like a jig
shakes the loom
like a web
is spun the pattern
all are involved
all are consumed.

Martin Carter

Friday, November 04, 2011

What are the essentials?

Or more appropriately, who are The Essentials? On a cool fall evening in November, I found out when I went to Croton Reservoir Tavern on 40th Street in one of the busiest cities this side of the Atlantic. The poster on the invitation showed a photo of Michel Aubertin and Phil Grajko sitting on a couch separated by Phil's guitar. Let me just say the photo, does not let on what I heard! Truth be told, I knew what to expect from Michel, he was the lead singer in a band I managed from St Lucia. Michel is right up there with the best vocalists. Phil, though shocked me! First off I didn't expect him to be a singing guitartist, let alone be a reggae singing guitarist!
Music is truly a feeling! If it is not in your soul, you can't share it. Michel and Phil met over an essential just after Michel's honeymoon. As they sat on the roof of a Manhattan building, Michel opined that this city was just people on top of people on top of people! Yeah, it is a lot of people. Phil disappeared and Highrises was born. They let us hear it along with The Essentials, Canopy and one that I really liked called One.
The audience was truly engaged and involved, singing along to Bob Marley covers and the skatting of a former Burning Spear member who lends his vocals and percussion skills well.
By the end of their set, everyone was irie. This five-piece band is tightly knit and know where they want to be - in your music player and on your stage. The band is called Morning Sun & The Essentials and I have learnt that the essentials are three things that you can't live without - good herb, good music and good love. Consider yourself officially in the know! Blessed love.

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Monday, December 20, 2010

Village back at Christmas!

The showers that threatened the night were hardly enough to deter the patrons who wanted to experience a Village Christmas. Pan music filled the air the venue to immediately set the festive and calypso tone that would define the night.
The idea was to let St Lucia know that Soca Village International is back for Carnival 2011. Village Christmas was an opening night, out of season. One thing was for certain, it wasn’t tent as usual! Arnie Payne opened with a mid-tempo track that warmed up the crowd. TC Brown eased into the groove as only he can, looker ever dapper complete with Fedora and sounding just as good.
When Invader hit the stage there was no doubt that a party was in session, he entertained the audience in his usual style and gave them his popular seasonal favourites like Wood for Christmas and Christmas Story. We were transported back to July for a minute when he performed Stay In Your Section, a tune that helped him capture the Calypso Monarch title. After half an hour, Invader made way for Pelay. Clad in all white, he delivered several of the songs that often signal to many persons it is Christmas in St Lucia. In fact, for many of the songs, Pelay could have conducted the audience! Merry Christmas (St Lucian Style), 36 26 38, Sunshine Christmas and Twadicion Nwel translated to mean Christmas Traditions were some of the strains heard.
Soca Village acknowledges and accepts that music is an integral part of our life and festivities, over the years, the music at Christmas time in St Lucia has been coloured by artistes who have paved the way for the volume of music now available locally. The standard had been set decades ago. For their contribution to Christmas music in St Lucia, three artistes were honoured. Charles Cadet, Jeff “Pelay” Elva and Jn Baptiste “Lucian Parrot” Gaspard. Pelay accepted on behalf of Charles Cadet and expressed how grateful they both were to have been recognized. Lucian Parrot who has not been out in public much was visibly moved and the patrons were happy to see him while the DJ played Soca Zouk for Santa. The presentations were made by Soca Village’s pioneer Ignatius “Invader” Tisin.
Without missing a beat, MC Gilroy “Ezi” Hall introduced Timothy Watkins jr, more popularly known as the Baron, Wezon started the introduction to It’s Christmas Again. Song after song, easily recognized by it’s introduction and infectious melody kept the audience dancing through the night. Also included in his set were It’s Christmas, Spanish Woman only released last year and immensely popular in his native Trinidad & Tobago; Come Go, Come By Me, Feeling It, Say Say and Soca Man among others. When his set ended after about seventy-five minutes and he was soaking wet and had stripped down to his waist-coat, he tried to say good night but the patrons would have none of it! They asked for an encore, he obliged and delivered a couple more minutes of sweet-sounding joy.
Edwin “Crazy” Ayoung took the stage next and without missing a beat, he kept the Christmas spirit in the air from his first track and delivered hits like Maria, Yvonne, Put Jesus In Your Christmas and Nani Wine and his newer tune Percy.
DYP took to the stage to close the show, patrons partied for another hour with them. At the end of the night a good time was had by all and it is clear that Soca Village International is back with a bang. What ever your plans this season, it is clear that the spirit of Christmas is alive in the village. Have an enjoyable time.


Friday, February 13, 2009

Digicel Spreading Love

On the eve of Valentine's Day corporate giant Digicel teamed up with Radio Caribbean International to share some love.
What a lovely lime (no pun intended) it was. In less than two days, according to RCI's Programme Director, MacNaughton McLean, they were able to pull together a massive after work lime.
Billed as an afterwork concert, the event didn't disappoint. They used DJ HP, Digicel Pantime, and several popular soca acts to launch their new promotion where you pay $20 and talk for 1200 minutes over the next 5 days.
They begun with some 'fastest finger texting' where the MC called out some numbers and the person who was able to put them onto his on her phone the fastest won the corresponding credit.
After that there was entertainment by soca acts led by Platinum George, followed by the reigning Groovy Soca Monarch, the immensely popular Herb Black. He was followed by Teddyson John and Ila Man. Reigning Soca Monarch Ricky T performed to an appreciative and frenzied crowd, boosting the confidence he needs to compete against Bunji Garlin in Trinidad for the International Soca Monarch in a week's time. We wish him well. The evening was brought to a close by Nicole David who is currently employed in a public relations capacity with Digicel.

We are happy when corporate sponsors utilize the culture to get their message across. We look forward to more events of this nature especially outside of the carnival season.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Alison headlines Caribbean Youth Fest

The 2008 edition of Caribbean Youth Fest was staged in the north of the island this time. Traditionally held in the south, between Mon Repos and Vieux Fort, the event moved to Samaans Park.
Keen to stick to the time constraints that they were asked to work within, the show started shortly after 4pm with the St Lucia School of Music Jazz Band. They were good but played to almost no one. The crowd built up as time went on but not to the numbers that the show had grown accustomed to in the south.
There was an interesting component of the show where new artistes were showcased in a mini competition. There were singers and one dance group. Most of them originated from Vieux Fort. The Twirl Girls, a duo dressed in pink and black and who are students of music, emerged the most popular. They are from the Hotness stable under the direction of Andrew ‘Yardie’ Haynes. Kayeh, a new dancehall artiste is certainly one to watch, he has great stage presence.
This year, the female presence was hot! The ladies looked the part and sounded even better. Marie-Anne is never one to disappoint and had her fans singing along with her as she delivered ‘Cheating’ and ‘Visa Expire’. Seasoned performer Trish had some help from Kayo as she delivered her ‘One Kiss’ track. Shanyah, a dancehall artiste also from Hotness is also one to watch. She has great voice range and is comfortable on stage. Yanica and Nicky also performed.
The audience was able to savour many genres of music, they were thrilled by VertX with lead singer Derek Yarde ensuring that they got involved and were ready to party with QShan Deya, Emrand Henry and Kakal who were just some of the artistes accompanied by the band.
There was a noticeable presence of dancehall on the show, performers like Zionomi, Mad Ele and Kyatt were instant hits with the audience who apparently knew their music by heart!! The presence of the dance groups - Heartbreak Dancers, Lockdown Squad and Hype Squad, was well appreciated and the audience could be seen moving along with them. Busy Signal with the immensely popular Belly Belly and Aidonia with Hundred Stab were the favourite dancing tracks. Apparently daggering is in, especially with the youth!
After the dancehall hype, Soca Queen Alison Hinds took to the stage after a top class introduction from MC Scady.
She started her set with ‘Togetherness’ and went through all the favourites like ‘Sugar’, ‘Raggamuffin’, ‘Faluma’ and even performed ‘Aye Aye Aye’ with Derek Yarde, she went into the 2008 tracks like ‘Soca In Meh Veins’ and ‘Drop It’. The Alison Hinds show has seen the addition of dancers to Alison’s set. They were on and off in bursts but appeared to dance for most of the 75-minute set. They certainly added colour to the performance.
There is boundless talent within the youth. It needs to be channeled and harnessed properly. Events like Caribbean Youth Fest allow the youth an avenue to share the stage with established performers and is a stepping stone to putting St Lucian artistes on the map.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Go Rachel, Go Rachel!!

It is always a joy to go to events at Samaan’s Park, simply because of the certainty that the venue will be transformed to suit the event. Tonight was no different and the Comedy Cabaret has certainly kept up with the entertainment I’ve seen in November to date.
The first (hopefully of many) Comedy Cabaret had four acts. It opened with the winner of the local Courts comedy show. Barbados’ Trevor ‘Dynamite’ Eastmond was next and was keen to point out that a cell phone is a dangerous thing. He cited several examples to make his case.
Blacka Ellis from Jamaica, dressed all in white took the stage after Trevor. He started his routine by complaining that he had been accommodated at Rendezvous and it was couples only and there was no TV in the room. He felt that it was a lousy excuse to say that men watch sports and the TV was a distraction. They need to find more creative ways to watch TV. He certainly hammered home the point that women have it easier than men in this world.
The night belonged to Rachel Price. I am sure she’s considered a national treasure in Trinidad & Tobago, or at the risk of being controversial, she definitely should be. She is hilarious, naturally. She has the ability to talk about herself and laugh and she makes you do it too. She almost seemed like a counsellor or sister and not a comedienne. She spoke candidly about sex, race, family life, religion and politics. Towards the end of her performance she used music to remember the old days and highlight how children now are influenced by music. It was quite entertaining.
While we laughed a lot at what was said, there will no doubt be internalisation and introspection. Humour brings us together but when the jokes on you, it may not be as funny. Tonight, all the acts demeaned and discredited Guyanese. As a proud born and bred Guyanese, it makes me wonder how being industrious and open to change makes for such dislike. Not all Guyanese, not even the majority have to run when you say immigration! I realise that it certainly goes beyond the fact that we can laugh about it. However, because I love to laugh and have risen above the indiscretions, I would actually go back to see any of these acts, they are good at what they do and Landmark Events is to be commended for putting them on the same cast.