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Home grown jazz on the North Coast
The second annual North Coast Jazz Festival was a celebration of local talent with the slogan Born Here, Played Here. The sold out event was held at the Sir Solomon Hochoy Grounds in Blanchisseuse on May 26.
The audience came with their tables, chairs, food, drinks, friends and family and created a real party atmosphere, liming and picnicking while listening to the music.
The majority of the patrons got to the venue via a Park and Ride system implemented by the organisers, which took them on a two-hour ride through the lush countryside of the North Coast.
Even though Olatunji’s set was disappointingly short compared to some of the others, he had the crowd out of their seats from the moment he hit the stage with his hit songs Bodyline and Ola, along with classic Lord Kitchener and Sparrow ballads. After whipping them into a frenzy, he leaped off the stage and was immediately surrounded by fans, who he led in a chorus of songs before ending his set. There were extraordinary performances from Tobago’s Kay Alleyne, Jeanine and Janelle Xavier of Xavier Strings on violins, Dean Williams and Friends and the Michael Dingwell Band, all of whom kept the crowd enthralled and dancing. The music ranged from jazz to contemporary to gospel to soul.
Alleyne performed a range of throaty soulful classics from different eras of music, and the crowd joined in enthusiastically. The Xavier sisters had the audience in awe with their virtuoso playing of their instruments, incorporating dance and performance elements. Brother and sister duo Ayanna and Saeed Garcia, along with Tristan Marcano, performed classical pieces on pan and the audience sang along and danced.
Dean Williams on guitar and the other members of his band on trumpet, saxophone and keyboard had the crowd moving and shaking to their original music, while the Michael Dingwell Band performed a series of jazz-infused gospel hits which energised the crowd from the beginning of the show.
The performances from vocalist Nyiida Andrews and musician Arthur Marcial were less enthralling, as both their performances fell flat and decreased the momentum of the show. Some fans experienced concerns with how the performers were ordered, although generally the show flowed smoothly without time for patrons to lose interest.
There were a few problems which cropped up, such as patrons not realising that the Park and Ride fee was not part of the ticket price, mechanical issues, not letting patrons know that they should bring seating, no social media response on the weekend of the show, etc. The buses also were ready to go before the end of the show, which also occurred last year, leading to some patrons leaving early and missing the end of the show.
There were a variety of food booths and crafts on sale. Patrons were eager to support the residents of the area who had leather work, jewelry and clothing on sale. The vendors also offered a variety of foodstuffs ranging from Pacro Water and Sea Whelks to fried fish, wings and fries. Some vendors from outside the community included Natalie’s Bake and Shark from Maracas Bay and Johann Mohammed of African Ark.
Also available were a dozen flavours of ice cream, including Tonkabean, Balata, Pumpkin and Mango.
Virtuoso singer Mavis John, who performed at last year’s Festival, was honoured by the North Coast Jazz Festival Committee. Committee Chairman Louis Lee Sing said John would be attending next year’s St Lucia Jazz Festival, all expenses paid by the Committee. She was also presented with a framed portrait of her performing live by renowned literary icon Dr Selwyn Cudjoe on behalf of the Committee. John became emotional as she accepted the portrait and expressed her appreciation for the accolade.
Patrons were delivered safely back to the Savannah by the Park and Ride Service, and the general consensus was that the Festival was well worth the price of admission.
(See more of North Coast Jazz in Pulse, in REC magazine)
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