Amala's View

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Wet Fete had me soaked!!!!

If you believe that heading then I could fool you with anything!!! As Arturo says conch is not for beginners so try some finger foods first!!
For the first time in a long time I think there was a right fit with venue and event. The stony ground of Samaan’s Park proved to be just what was needed for a wet fete. Similar events have been tried before on the beach and indoors at clubs with foam.
Sunday’s event fit nicely into the calendar of activities for St Lucia Carnival and filled a void that may have been left had there been nothing in the north of the island. There was certainly no shortage of water, there were water trucks waiting in the wings!! Kudos must go to organizers New Generation Entertainment headed by Kurt Elibox.
The event started at 2pm with DJ music, Sir Lance-A-Lot and Levi Chin entertained the patrons while they had a good time under the sprinklers. A section of the grounds was earmarked as the wet zone, there were sprinklers along the wall and on the ground in addition to long hoses. I think the long hoses were a mistake because mischievous or drunk (or both) guys took them into the center of the venue where it was supposed to be safe! The rest as they say is history.
VertX got the live performances off to a great start in their usual rousing way, this set the stage for Ricky T and Nicole. Nicole invited Levi Chin and they performed the remix of her Roadblock song. They were later followed by Platinum George, Ninja Dan and reigning soca monarch Alpha, whose Tic Toc dancers also put in an appearance. The headliner was Onyan and Burning Flames out of Antigua and they thrilled as expected. Onyan sang hits from way back and even did a few St Lucian tracks. He was accompanied on vocals by Patrice and his brother Krokus. They had the audience forming a congaline but I think the thrill for the crowd was when he asked who burnt down the Crystal Lime factory and proceeded to drink from the bottle!! The event ended at 10:30pm.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Hot Wuk fails to heat up

Dancehall artiste Mr Vegas graced the island with his presence once again. He was the headliner for a concert dubbed Xplode ’07 hosted by Omni Promotions. There was barely a little bang.
The event which was held at Gaiety on Rodney Bay, got underway with DJ Levi Chin pumping some of the hottest tracks of the day. Joint Road March winners for 2006 VertX took to the stage at about 1am and played for an hour ensuring that the small but appreciative crowd had a fantastic time.
Nicole David was the only other St Lucian artiste to perform she gave the usual solid performance we have come to expect from her, ably backed by VertX.
Mr Vegas and his band Tugz took to the stage shortly after 3am after an introduction that only Mr Pringles could deliver and he belted out track after track much to the delight of the girls in the front who were having a good time with the rag hanging from his back pocket and his sneakers.
While getting dancers on stage to hot wuk proved to be an exercise in futility, girls were snapping their fingers all across the floor.
Artistes normally feed off the energy of the audience and while Mr Vegas is not the best thing that happened to Jamaica, he did appear a little cold. I think local dancer Bounty Hype and his boys injected a little colour into the performance although I am a tad disappointed that I still am not sure of the Tek Way Yuhself dance. Sigh!
After a series of failed dancehall shows, all within the last four weeks, I am inclined to conclude that dancehall has it’s season and it is not within carnival! This year St Lucians have rallied hard and fast behind the soca artistes and no amount of mixing and matching will do.
I was all set to have a good time but the hot wuk failed to ignite so I guess until next time…aye aye aye…

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Ambassadors Bringing Up The Rear

Johnny Walker Black Ambassadors Tent was last out the gates this season but already they have some of the calypsos in heaviest rotation. As is customary Mr Consistency - Pelay opened the batting and gave patrons an insight into Eleven’s Legacy which spoke about the dates on which many world events occurred and they happened to have had 11 in them. The most impactful was of course December 11th 2006 – St Lucia’s last general elections.

Kendall John, a newcomer to the tent but former two-time Inter-Commercial House Monarch gave a great account of himself. Robbie thrilled the audience with his In Your Cabinet. Pep took the evening to another level with his Reform The Anthem. He sang about St Lucians not meaning what they sing in the anthem. It really struck a chord with the audience and is indeed food for thought…well not reforming the anthem but behavioural and attitudinal change!
The highlight of the tent though, was the first of Bachelor’s two numbers – Abstain. He spoke about the fact that last year’s number encouraged people to use condoms but it got him some flack so this year he is asking them to abstain and forget about all the joys of sex this season. If the airplay it is currently receiving is any indication, it is poised to do really well.

There were clearly some hits and misses but that is expected, however they needs to be properly managed. Bingo made a comeback with two verses after two false starts but newcomer Ronell had no such luck. Rock managed to get an encore – purely out of fun by the pinez! Speaking of pinez, they are very enterprising and Tribonus and Poule Bois have a bread and saltfish business, they were well decked out in aprons and went around the selling.

The second half went off without a hitch but there was much less excitement. The highlight for me was Jackson with Is Magic To Me where he was accompanied by a young pannist from Emerald Steel. Other performers on the night were Nye, Driver, King George and Ginger.

The tent is backed by big band Wézon and the opening night’s MC was Errol Fabien.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Bacchanalarization in progress!

When the story of St Lucia's media is told years from now, it will certainly include the hottest personality on radio now! Kwency "Mr Pringles" Griffith made his television debut tonight. Four years ago I sanctioned a suggestion to make him the MC at NG Soca Stage. The tent was new and we wanted an MC that we could claim as ours. Well suffice it to say demand is greater than supply and now if your show does not have Mr Pringles well...
Mr Pringles is on the Wave's afternoon shift and he is an absolute joy to listen to. There is no way that you tune into him and not laugh and wonder to yourself how he is able to keep up the energy.
So this year, the theme for Carnival is 'We Ready Now' and the music from the soca artistes has been forthcoming, we hear track after track and realise that when the local segment comes on in the fete it is absolute abandon. That feeling is referred to as bacchanalarizing. Bacchanalarize is a phrase coined by Mr Pringles and you can no doubt understand the sort of head-gone, bumper-rolling, waist-pelting action it entails.
Thanks to Mr Pringles, the second season of bmobile LIVE, a weekly television broadcast that brings the players to us, will be the hypest ever. Mind you, he asks serious questions and deals with the issues but we love the fact that he personalises the programme. For crying out loud, that's all he knows how to do!!!

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

St Lucia Carnival 2007 Opens

It’s official! St. Lucia’s Carnival 2007 has been declared open. All the elements of Carnival were present to play their part and show their readiness. The Mindoo Phillip Park in Castries was transformed into Carnival City from 3pm on Sunday June 3rd as the sweet sounds of Hanco Harmonites got the event off to a melodious start. There were addresses by sponsors and Government officials, Cable & Wireless Diamond Steel jammed for a bit then we saw the first appearance of the Carnival Queen Contestants. The four junior bands vying for the Junior Band of the Year title gave parents a glimpse of what the portrayals are. Just Us Kids is playing ‘Come Sail With Me’, Charmalions is playing ‘Rome to Egypt’, Xtreme Kiddies is playing ‘Friends of Discovery’ as in the network with cartoon characters and XS Energy does ‘Customs & Traditions’. While all the adult bands had booths with displays, they did not all participate in the on-stage portrayal. The themes this year are as follows; XS Energy – “Quest – In Search of the Infinite”; MAS Action – “Tribute to Calypso Greats…From Town Hall to Mindoo Phillip”; St Lucian Spirit – “All Ah We Is One”; Cozy Guzzlers – “All Hands on Deck”; Rituals – “O’Zana – The Rejoicing”; Red International – “Viva Las Vegas”; Just 4 Fun – “Unleashed”. A feature that has certainly grown within the bands is the addition of the VIP section, it was initiated by Just 4 Fun three years ago and has caught on like wildfire.
Of course for some persons carnival is about calypso and the stories that form a part of the calypsonian’s tale. All the tents were represented in the persons of Pelay, Minel, Paulinus, Cee Cee and Invader. Invader seems to have thrown his hat in the ring immediately with his ‘Chinese or Taiwanese’ offering. A medium tempo number that highlights the political associations St Lucia had to choose between after elections. He divided the crowd into Chinese and Taiwanese and a waving match ensued.
The MCs were Ezi Hall and Mr Pringles who have come to be the standard now, individually they are hard to beat but the combination is unstoppable. The crowd lives for their routines. The highlight of the proceedings, however, was the soca segment that saw the performances rise to another level and some included props consistent with competition!
Papa Pops opened with his Talk A Lot track. He got the mammoth crowd off to a fine start. Teddy J was next with his groovy number Coming Down De Road. He is certainly a welcome addition this year. While he’s new to the carnival scene, he is an accomplished musician, playing drums and doing vocals in the jazz and R&B genres. His composure on stage obviously came from that. Teddy J has one of the sweet voices this year.
Nicole David was up next, she did a medley of old and new tracks including some real crowd favourites like Jabal and Maté. Dressed in a really flattering black and white ensemble, she had the crowd precisely where she wanted them, showing why she’s St Lucia’s queen of soca. During this year’s Jamette, she invited a woman on stage who showed the crowd the dance to the song. Mantius was up next and slowed down the tempo a bit with No Feelings, he was a bit long and drawn out and the crowd was merciless, at the end of his set he did his roadmarch contender a double entendre number entitled Position, complete with his scantily-clad position dancers! Platinum George has gone Spanish this year, well for a little bit anyway! He is also a sheriff in another track. The crowd loves him and he does not disappoint. Kakal has been enjoying a fair amount of airplay with his Lang Kaka. He’s noted for being able to blend the patois and English and his songs almost always have two meanings. The second track fell flat because he explained the song and showed the action that was supposed to be the double meaning. Kakal has been known for spending too much time on stage too.
Q-pid was ably backed up by her dancers for Fire Waist, they did some limbo dancing with fire to really emphasise the fire waist, she did last year’s Water and ended with Indian Cry.
Ricky T who perhaps has the most favoured song for the road so far needs to step up his performance, the crowd already loves the track but he adds nothing to it. From the first strains of his My Pressure both men and women start gyrating like crazy. His love for dancehall like Lil Rick and Bunji Garlin comes to the fore in almost all his performances because he freestyles with ease.
Ninja Dan gets better every time we see him and Sunday was no different, clad in a white suit with St Lucia emblazoned on the pocket and with a flag in hand, he encouraged the crowd to Rise, it is clearly a track that would do extremely well in competition if he rises to it. He did a medley as well and ended with Brown Skin, a track that the ladies love and with good reason too, we have never heard Ninja Dan in that singing vein and he does it with such passion, what’s not to love! His live performance certainly brought his tracks to life.
The soca artistes segment ended with Alpha, the reigning soca monarch. His entrance was heralded by pyro-technics and they were consistent throughout his performance. His medley included Down de Road, Happy Birthday Carnival and this year’s Insane. He left the stage and got an obvious encore for the much anticipated Tic Toc. There was so much hype about the tic toc dancers and the presentation backed it up, literally! The girls appeared in barely-there brazilian-styled tangas and two were perched atop bikes. The crowd loved it. We do wonder now though what is going to happen for competition or is Alpha really not defending like he hinted earlier in the season? Time will tell!
The jamband for the night was last year’s co-roadmarch winner VertX, lead by Derek Yarde. They took the crowd down memory lane with some old favourites and brought them right back to last year ending with Woy My Pressure Up. The event ended at 10:30pm.
Of note this year, is the production assistance from the St Lucia Tourist Board, the show was run tightly by stage manager Lyndale James. The Tourist Board also ensured that St Lucia Carnival now has it’s own logo.
Based on Sunday’s opening, St Lucia Carnival 2007 will certainly be a fantastic one! Stay tuned…