by Donna Sealy
and Latoya Burnham
A jump and worship, get loose kinda fete happened in small proportions today at the Lester Vaughan School, as the Party Monarch and Sweet Soca finalists went through their first rehearsals of the season in preparation for Bushy Park on Sunday.
Among the artists who belted out some chords and tried to sort out their scores today were defending Party Monarch Mikey, Blood, Natahlee, RPB, Khiomal, Slim Jim, Lil Rick and Mr. Dale.
They were each in fine form and if the music from the band, led by Ryan Blackman, was any indication, it should indeed be a sweet Party Monarch.
RPB did a solid job with Feting, another one of his hits for the season.
He said: “This year has been hectic. I didn’t really bargain for this much this year because I had no intention of going into the Pic-O-De-Crop I knew I would have been defending in the Sweet Soca Monarch competition but I’m in it and I have to do the best I can.
“I’m always very comfortable with these bands. The band men are always ready and willing to help the entertainer as much as they can and to make the best out of all the songs and . . . it is always great that both of the bands at this level, the fellas go all out to make sure that the music is correct. So I’m happy about that, I never really had an issue, so I’m happy.
“With the other preparation, I’m working hard. It is always quite difficult to go through these last two weeks. I’m cool, I’m going to try to give it my best shot. The final showdown, two weeks away, is always what people consider to be the real big night, and I really never wanted to be in the competition this year but I’m there. It’s 30 years and I’m looking to give it my best shot,” he told Barbados TODAY.
Mr. Dale, who is in the Sweet Soca competition with his song Galore, said there were still some things that had to be done but the band was “A-Class” with an “A-Class” set of musicians and “we would be up and running” at his next rehearsal.
Reserve in the Sweet Soca, Natahlee also had a good session when she went through her song Good Wukka Man and she said she was ready to perform if someone could not.
Meanwhile Lil’ Rick, with the ever popular I Like Muhself, said he has been having a good season, both in terms of the material he has been able to produce as well as demand for his appearance for Crop-Over.
The former party monarch said he was definitely coming for the crown this year and that he had been working towards it, and if favour is on his side he is also hoping to pick up at least two more before the season ends.
Speaking at rehearsals as well, Slim Jim said this year was his first return to the party arena since 2005.
Widely popular in the gospel circuit for his lead role with the band Promise, he said his stage name came to him after a colleague at work kept calling him Slim Jim because of the amount of weight he had lost.
Singing Praise Is What I Do (Jump and Worship), Slim Jim said it was a mission of his not only to return to the gospel set and become healthier in his approach, but also to bring praise to God more to the forefront of Crop-Over.
Late in the evening, the strains of Get Loose could be heard coming from the school’s auditorium as the last rehearsal for the day, Khiomal, took to the stage.
Rehearsals will continue tomorrow, with technical rehearsals scheduled for Thursday at Bushy Park, the venue of Soca Royale. firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com