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A true Bajan brew

Sweet, sweet, folk music.

by Latoya Burnham

It was dubbed the Bajan Brew, and quite a blend it was in Heroes Square last night as the Independence celebrations for 2012 officially got underway.

Everything from gospel to folk, to reggae, spouge and soca, was tossed into the “tea pot”, and poured out in an almost three-hour-long show that followed the official Lighting Ceremony which ended just after 6:30 p.m.

With a warning to the large crowd that turned up to see the City bathed in our national colours of gold, aquamarine and black, that there would be some technical changes to the area before the Brew could be heated up and dumped onto the square, several spectators rushed to secure chairs, even as technicians removed the earlier covering of tents.

Just after 7 p.m., the MC for the evening moved onto the stage dressed as the Reverend Reginald Barrow, the father of the Father of Independence, Errol Walton Barrow, and proceeded to introduce the first act — a tribute to the gospel of the ’70s and ’80s, made popular by Joseph Niles.

Formed in 1981, the Silvertones of Barbados did justice to many of the old Joseph Niles and the Consolers favourites like Walking Up the King’s Highway, This Train, Try A Little Kindness and others that had the audience rocking in their seats and singing along. When the group departed the stage it was with much appreciation from both old and young.

The gospel section, which also featured Sluggy with a more modern gospel-rap flavour, was replaced by a “folk suite” that involved the amalgamation of several folk groups, beginning with a choir of children who presented ditties like John Belly Mama and There’s A Brown Girl In The Ring. They were followed by another group that rendered Leh We Play Mas; Burn Mr. Harding and Sousie, again much to the appreciation of the audience.

When the Israel Lovell Dancers replaced the folk singers, it was to deliver a strong performance titled Waiting For You, while poet and dramatist Jamar Brathwaite told the tale of the many things Bajans were spending money on yet blaming the recession for their problems.

The only disappointment of the evening was perhaps the reggae segment, with Christopher Fenty, Fantom Dun Deal and Crimson. When it has to be said that Crimson saved the genre from being a total flop, that says a lot, given that his brand of “reggae” is not reggae in the truest sense. He however had a large part of the younger age groups in the audience singing along with abandon, as he spun tune after tune.

Later segments of the evening featured Adrian Clarke with the spouge number Express Yaself and then Tony Grazette with Lonesome Me and Knock On Wood. This got some females up on their feet and dancing along to the rhythmic band and the sweet melodies belted out by the two talented performers.

When three-time king Mikey hit the stage though, the night was thoroughly, to coin the Bajan phrase — mash up. One got the feeling that the still large audience in the square had waited for this King, even though the show waxed on a little longer than some would have expected. And the wait was well worth it, as he delivered both old and new hits that had waistlines wining, hands and flags waving and more than a few feet stamping in enjoyment.

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