T’was a Festival To Remember
IToni Nicholas called my good friend Teddy Francis early Monday morning. He did not answer his phone. I reckon he must have still been in bed after all the hard work he and others put into the arts component of the 2015 Saint Lucia Jazz & Arts Festival. Or better yet, maybe he was still drunk on the high he received during Robin Thicke’s finale of “Blurred Lines”.
The singer, upon entering the Pigeon Island National Landmark on Sunday, had caught a glimpse of the artistic expressions on display. The activity was spearheaded by Francis, the director of carnival and a member of the festival committee. What had particularly caught Thicke’s attention was the models bearing carnival costumes, among the revelry of body painting, stilt walkers and drummers that welcomed patrons at the venue. “I need them on stage,” the American pop star had insisted. And, after an exhilarating performance with an all black band, the models, now turned dancers, paraded on stage with Thicke, his band and back-up singers to a show-stopping rendition of the biggest song of his career to date: “Blurred Lines”. It felt like the finale of the festival that had started ten days earlier on April 30. But it wasn’t.
The 2015 Saint Lucia Jazz & Arts Festival got off to a wonderful start on Thursday April 30 with a Caribbean Party featuring Saint Lucian performers Invader, Dupes, Arthur and Sedale (with Wildfire). Jamaican reggae singing sensation Chronixx wowed fans at the event and converted some new ones, while Destra may have disappointed some of her fans, somewhat. Many had come for her sassiness, her bodacious presence and, oh yes, the many soca hits. Instead, they were fed a barrage of soca songs by her male onstage companion and just some of the singer’s popular songs. Her finale and ever-popular “Lucy” closed the show.
On May 1, all roads led to Soufriere for Soufriere Creole Jazz featuring Barbara Cadet, TJ, Future Lights and Avot Servis, all from local soil. The Original Bouyon Pioneers and Jah Cure ended the show. Cure saved it, whetting the appetites of fans who earlier could not find one cold drink at the venue.
The following day, Fond D’Or upped its numbers, which were somewhat down in 2014. The line-up at the heritage park included Evalucian band, Miste En Local, Carimi and Zouk Machine. The fair-sized crowd manoeuvred the park with ease, able to enjoy the ambience of the venue. But here again, long set changeovers may have spoilt a good thing. After a brilliant performance by Carimi, fans had to wait more than half an hour for Zouk Machine, the final act. After about four songs, particularly their biggest hit “Pisime Zouke”, the crowd started dwindling.
The music faithful continued their round-the-island trek on Sunday May 3 for Jazz in the South in Vieux Fort and then Monchy Creole Jazz on Tuesday May 5.
Vieux Fort received much support from its parliamentary representative and the prime minister, Kenny Anthony, with Trinidadian Calypsonian Shadow as the main act. Before him the band Karma had excited the crowd while DYP kept the party momentum on point. Shadow was off to a slow start, with his vocals hardly audible at first. Things improved somewhat but the crowd had long decided that the band Karma had taken the cake on the night.
Monchy Creole Jazz (Mizik en Kweyol) raised the ante this year as a major community event at the heart of the Saint Lucia Jazz & Arts Festival. The stage placement and the side stage featuring the Secret Band and others was well placed. The event also featured the Royal Saint Lucia Police Band, Avot Servis, Invader and DYP who raised the roof until 1 am the next morning.
The talk of the town on Wednesday, before and after the event, was HOT Couture. Depending on who you spoke to you would hear, “The Cubans stole the show,” “The Trinis were great,” or “Wow, our models did great.” HOT Couture has so far been receiving rave reviews in the local, regional and international media.
Thursday’s Jazz Showcase at the wonderfully refurbished National Cultural Centre
From Choiseul to Pigeon Island, Meshach made
Chrisette Michele unleashed those pipes
The legendary Jimmy Cliff closed the 2015 SLJA
This beauty soaked it all
in at Pigeon Island.