Artistes call for a real band

by Latoya Burnham

Geh we a live band!

This was the resounding chorus of several participants in the Sweet Soca semi-finals competition last Friday night at Lime’s sports club in Wildey, St. Michael.

Mikey, a strong contender on the night and inevitably one of the finalists, noted that he thought even amidst some of the controversy around the competition, the fact that organisers actually had a semi-final was definitely a step in the right direction.

But, he noted, something had to be done about the fact that the artists were being asked to perform to a recorded track.

“I prefer to sing to a band and I think all the artists will tell you the same thing… The fact that we have to sing is good because for me it is the chance to see if the 16 or 17 chosen can actually represent the song live.

“There was no presentation clause, but if anyone knows me, they know I am one for a show, but you need to show that graduation at this level,” said Mikey, who is also the reigning Party Monarch.

Lorenzo, who performed I Come To Party at number six, said he too believed a band was ideal.

He said he was surprised at the vibe he got from the crowd, as he was expecting the traditional liming posse that would usually frequent the Pork Lime.

“There was the initial nervousness but when I felt the vibe from the crowd, it felt good.”

He added however: “Any true entertainer loves to perform live to a band, but part of the competition says that you perform to a track. It is ideal with a band so you can interpret the song how you want.”

Hypasounds agreed, saying that a band allows the entertainer to really perform to the crowd.

“I thought it would have been a more relaxed crowd but clearly they came out for a show and responded to the music. If this is a competition we should at least have a band so you can work the crowd and the band allows you to do that where a track doesn’t. But I understand it is the first and everything happens in stages. So maybe that is the next stage,” said the Wuk It Up Bad singer, who also doubled with Blood for Any & Everything in the contest.

Both Blood and TC noted that they would have loved a band, with Blood stating: “I think where we can go from here is improving it and then next year getting a band, get the guys to actually perform to a band next time around and see how it goes.

“I’ve never been a fan of performing to a track, whether it is just to do a gig or whatever. I prefer to have a band.”

TC, just back from surgery on her knee six weeks ago, said she was not sure if any changes were made to the usual sound system at the Pork Lime to ready it for competition.

She said after her performance, during which the sound actually dropped out for a few words, she was told by members of the audience that they could not hear clearly.

The Whole Day singer said: “That track situation ties you down and I don’t think there was any singer that did not say they were not keen on the track situation. Most of the artistes voice their concerns with the track as well as the Pork Lime situation…

“I want to say that once the 16 were chosen the second time around, our first meeting would have been the Monday and we would have made note and also made known our discomfort with it. Apparently it came out of a stakeholders meeting to go that route,” she said, adding however that it was right to have a semifinal competition ahead of the finals.

Similarly, Mr. Dale was also vocal on the issue, but with a few recommendations for next year, should a Sweet Soca semifinal also be held.

“This is a step in the right direction … For the NCF though in terms of future development, what we can do, apart from the live element for sure, you need to really groom the artists and get away from the MP3 and singing to track. It is good to listen and then pick your semifinalists…

“I also think this year for certain has highlighted, because of the way ragga soca is moving across the world and taking off in terms of the music of the Caribbean, I think we need to expand the amount of people that come to the semifinal because the majority, I think about 90 per cent of the songs recorded now are ragga socas within the bpms (beats per minute).

“I think inadvertently there are people who are always getting left out, recording beautiful songs but being left out and I think to someone who is young and now coming it can be very detracting or discouraging. That is one thing that can be improved, the amount of people who came to the semifinalists because it reflected what we have,” said the former Party Monarch.

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