Benefit concert for popular drummer ‘Bird’ tonight
APPROXIMATELY FOUR months ago, renowned drummer Junior ‘Bird’ Baillie suffered a heart attack which nearly killed him. Bird was unconscious when he was taken to the University Hospital of the West Indies, as his heart had stopped beating. Though the musician has recovered significantly from the near-fatal incident, the entire situation has proved quite costly, and Bird has been unable to foot the bill that has been left behind as a result of the ordeal.
It is with the latter in mind that several friends from the music fraternity have decided to host a benefit concert for Bird, to help offset the cost of some of his medical expenses.
When The Gleaner spoke Charmaine Lemonious, one of the organisers of the event, she expressed that the decision to assist Bird was instantaneous.
“We love him (Bird) very much, so it wasn’t something that we hesitated to do,” she said. “It is going to be such a wonderful event. He had a near fatal heart attack some months ago and we are very lucky to have him still. They had to operate on him and as you can imagine, he has some outstanding bills.”
She went on to say that when the calls were made for entertainers to jump on board and give of their talent for the concert, the response was overwhelming.
“No one hesitated. They all came out and said yes, we want to do this. I mean, Bird is someone that has contributed so much to the music, and he has worked with so many of these artistes that they saw it fit to give back in any way they could.”
The concert, which will take place later tonight at 5 Keesing Avenue, the home of Keesing Live, will see a host of artistes gracing the stage. Those expected to perform include Ken Boothe, Ernie Smith, Bob Andy, Dean Fraser, Duane Stephenson, Errol Lee, Johnny Clarke, Rupert Bent Jr, Gem Myers, Wayne Armond, Cherine Anderson, Dwight Richards, Maria Myrie, Peso, Seretse, Nazzleman, Harold Davis, Ouzoune, Dimario McDowell, and Charmaine Limonius. They will be backed by Desi Jones and Friends as well as Lloyd Parkes and We The People band.
Tickets cost $1,500 and may be purchased at Keesing. Food and other refreshments will be on sale and all proceeds from the event will go to Bird, who is expected to be in attendance. Gates open at 6:30 p.m., showtime 8 p.m. All-night security, complimentary parking and continuous shuttle service to and from Tyre Warehouse to the venue will be available.
A GREAT FEELING
When contacted, an overwhelmed Bird told The Gleaner that he is grateful for the support he has received thus far, especially from members of the music fraternity.
“I didn’t know that I was this much loved in the music industry,” he said. “When I saw the outpouring of support, I actually sat down and cried. To see people coming even to the hospital and then to see the calibre of musicians that have agreed to participate in this event, it’s just a great feeling.”
The drummer revealed that his recovery is going very well and he is looking forward to returning to the stage in full force.
“I have actually started playing again, as my doctors say its cardiovascular exercise and it’s good for me.”
During his 36-year career, Bird has played for Bare Essentials, the Mighty Diamonds, the Marleys, Shaggy, the late John Holt, Yellow Man, Sean Paul, Freddie McGregor, Marcia Griffiths, Ernie Smith, and many more celebrated artistes.