Amala's View

Monday, October 29, 2007

All's well that ends well

The curtains came down on the 11th annual World Creole Music Festival this weekend. The saturday was a bit of a disappointment because inclement weather prevented Beres' arrival but Shurwayne, Skah Shah and DJuny Claude did manage to keep the audience thrilled.
On Sunday night it was the last lap and traditionally it was the night with the smallest attendance because there is work on Monday and several visitors travel back the Sunday, not so this time! It was the largest night of the festival. Bamboolaz from Martinique opened, followed by talented Dominican songstress Michelle Henderson. Midnight Groovers was next and they kept the crowd going, I guess being in the business for 37 years, they know a thing or two about entertainment. Beres Hammond took the stage with his Harmony House Band at about 2am and caused us to rockaway and put up a resisitance while he belted out hit after hit. His 75 minute set was thoroughly entertaining down to the musicians dancing and the drummer playing everything on the stage as though they were part of the drum kit.
The Paris-based Kassav was not to be outdone! They took to the stage shortly after Beres ended and kept the tempo going, complete with dance routines. Their three piece horn line was everything we expected as they performed their mega hits and kept the audience involved. Jocelyn does not seem to age and performs with the same spring in her step as would a 21 year old!! She must have found that siwo she was looking for!
Jeff Joseph and Grammacks started their set at 5am and kept patrons rocking until they were done shortly after 6am. Grammacks International is based in Paris as well and it was a quick turnaround for them, they left the island immediately after their show.
It is commendable that in this day and age when there always seems to be the tendency to cleave to a foreign band, that Dominica can find a local band to close each night of the festival and patrons come out to see them and speak highly of their performance. Well done Triple Kay, WCK and Grammacks International.
The DFC is to be commended for yet another successful staging and the stadium has weathered the storm, 2008 is already beginning to look great!!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

King holds court on first night of the Festival

Friday October 26th, 2007 saw the opening of 3 nights of pulsating rhythms. At the brand new Windsor Park Sports Stadium in Roseau, the 11th annual World Creole Music Festival was ushered in. Initially the crowd was small when Top Vice and King Mensah took the stage. The crowd grew gradually and by the time the king of the dancehall took the stage at 2am, there was barely standing room on the tiled turf. Care was taken not to damage the fresh laid grass, plastic tiles were brought in to cover the field where patrons would stand for the close up we have grown accustomed to in the caribbean.
Immaculately attired in a cream suit with an orange shirt, Moses 'Beenie Man' Davis the aptly self-proclaimed 'girls dem sugar' showed his fans why he is the King of the Dancehall. He belted out hit after hit and had everyone eating out of the palm of his hand. He sang, danced and lectured much to the delight of the crowd. They obeyed his every move from hands up to cell phones in the air.
Beenie Man encouraged everyone one to be proud of their heritage and revealed his madras tie in solidarity with the celebration of creole day.
He was followed by Dominican jam band Triple Kay who kept party-goers jumping until 5:15am.
The organisers were happy with how the first night turned out and would no doubt rectify a few things ahead of night number 2. Minister for Community Development, Culture, Gender Affairs and Information, Lorraine Bannis-Roberts did indicate that she was happy with what obtained and can already see how next year would turn out, specifically with reference to the venue.
Val Cuffy, the Executive Director of the Dominica Festivals Commission was happy that the plan worked and they got about 90% right.
As the weekend's festivities continue with Market Day on Saturday morning, lets see what the second concert unfolds.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Tent may experiment with A Capella

The invitations said Dress:Formal, so all of us got prepared for a glitzy affair. Ambassadors Calypso Tent was having its awards night for the 25th year of existence. The awards were aplenty, some strange but aplenty nonetheless. The prizes were fabulous - trips, dinners, weekends at resorts, jewellery, scotches in all colours, plaques, mugs and keyrings.
Awards were given to calypsonians who had gone to the semi-finals consistently, those who started the tent, longest serving female member of the tent, first female tent leader, longest serving executive member, sponsors.
An award was given to a tent pinez because if he is absent the atmosphere is not the same. (For the foreigners the tent pinez, in simple terms are the hecklers in the front, they add colour.) I remember the same first female tent leader made moves to have the tent pinez banned, how ironic!
The emcee from Trinidad was awarded, the stage manager, the set designer, so too was a writer who has written 150 songs for members of the tent.
What puzzled me though was how omitting the band from the awards could be considered an 'oversight'! It doesn't matter if it was the Chairman looking at it, it CANNOT be an oversight. An oversight is when you omit a small detail. The band is an integral part of the tent, not just on the nights when the public show up. The band puts in hours of rehearsals and works tirelessly to ensure that the calypsonian is comfortable and sounds good. Music is clearly not important, when they honoured all the people, not even an arranger was mentioned! Who arranged the 150 songs that Zepherin 'Face' Calixte wrote? Who played them?
Let me state categorically that what is important is the public acknowledgement when people do well. The prize they are given is oft irrelevant once they they get to stand in front of their peers and those whom they have served and have that relationship of confidence reinforced and told thank you.
I think for the next season, the tent may be forced to see how the sponsors, the patrons and all the awardees like the unaccompanied voices of the calypsonians!
If I were in Ambassadors, I would have awarded Jany Williams posthumously for being the first (and still the only) female in Ambassadors to win the Calypso Crown. I would have awarded Morgie for consistently singing controversial political commentary that brings the patrons out. I would have awarded TC Brown for putting a new spin on the music. I would have thanked the CDF for being a strong tower when the St Lucia Calypso Association went bankrupt and the major shows were in jeopardy!
The problem is the fact that I think! That's why I am not in Ambassadors.


Monday, October 01, 2007

September to remember?

Despite the calls to talk shows and the bickering over the actual start date of the tent, Ambassadors celebrated their 25th Anniversary in a show they dubbed "September to Remember". Granted we'll all remember it for different things but remember it we will nonetheless.
The night started with a moment of silence being observed for Jany, George Odlum and Sir John, the latter 2 puzzled me but let's not play the Emperor's New Clothes. Morgie opened with his Island of Sir John, which in my opinion is a 'one night' song. It was a hit in Micoud the first time he sang it but it fell flat at the funeral service and was even less effervescent this time around. Pelay followed him with his tribute Ode to Sir John then he went into Montserrat Jackass and Nostradamus. Emcee Errol Fabien kept the evening light. Calypsonians who are no longer members of the Ambassadors Calypso Tent also joined in the celebration. Tricky was fantastic as were Lady Leen and TC Brown, proof that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. For me, Furior's They Didn't Want to Know was the song on the night that is still quite relevant, he sang it in 1992 and today the same questions about bananas and caribbean unity still abound. Hammer, who has certainly grown to be a tent favourite, first graced the Ambassadors stage in 2000, he did two selections.
Tent leader, Bingo was almost flawless in his delivery. Robbie gave a good account of himself, as did Haggai and Pep.
The guest ariste was the reigning Trinidadian Calypso Monarch, Cro Cro.
The musicians were a combined band, referred to as Reasons & friends and included former backup band Reasons Orchestra's members, current band Wezon's members and Sylvon Sylvester of Trinidad.
While many patrons left not having heard their favourite songs, I was puzzled as to who chose the songs that were actually performed and why the calypsonians did all their songs back to back. Apologies were made for the absence of Bachelor and Jackson.