Bajans spreading sweet soca love
It is the night of the eve of Labour Day Monday 2013. The Crown Heights part of Brooklyn is full of cultural buzz and eager anticipation.
On Utica Ave — off Eastern Parkway — the spirit of a Caribbean festival is clearly visible. The smoky aroma of jerk chicken and the tooting of car horns fills the air; workers load sound equipment and organise a truck covered with Christian messages; and, the painted and powered faces of j’ouvert revellers illuminate the late night hustle and bustle.
As with any well written song, the Brooklyn fund raiser for keyboard player George Jones is juxtaposed against a wide range of patron choices — free events, backyard fetes, tents, weekend sales, and the restart of school.
Inside Tropical Paradise Ballroom, the Technic DJ warms the heart and legs of patrons, some of whom wait expectantly. Four hours later, eight top Bajan artists and musical support bands bring a class act that leaves about 1,200 patrons satisfied and wanting more. Evidently, they saying, sow good and good will attend you, is still true.
Allison Hinds had everyone watching and singing as she put exclamation marks on her song, Born wid it.
“My grandmother had it…, my mother had it, So watch me.” she exclaimed.
Suddenly, sitting patrons leapt to catch the “bumber” copy the movement of hands of a clock and the surfing waves off Bathsheba, Barbados, with the poise and precision.
“Born wid it, Born wid it!” other patrons shouted. Bumper fever was in the air.
The Best of Crop-Over 2013 had become Barbados best on stage — a rainbow of rythms far larger than the musical landscape of Barbados.
When Alison Hinds was done, and the MC said thank you and wished everyone goodnight, patrons didn’t move.
“It is over. It is over. Please leave!” shouted one of the security staff.
Reluctant patrons obeyed and left. However, many of them cooled off outside the centre chatting.
Bajan spirit was alive and well.
John Roett, one of the musicians of Barbados, who assisted Mocha with the coordination of the event, was scheduled to take a 6:45 a.m. plane to Canada, but the real humanitarian that he is, loaded speaker after speaker unto a U-Haul truck until, all the equipment was out of the Hall.
Peter Headly, the manager of Miles Roberson, a Bajan international artist, and son of the late Janice Millington, was in deep conversation with Biggie Ire for at least half an hour.
Marcella, a representative of MOCHA was shaking hands and said: “I am exceedingly happy with the outcome of the evening. I applaud and highly praise the artists for their contribution.”
For the record, some of the highlights of the highlights, in no particular order, were:
* Edwin Yearwood’s rendition of the Road Is Mine and the patrons who turned the ballroom into the road.
* The Soca Kartel high power session.
* RPB’s classics Something Happening and Ragga Ragga.
* The unsurpassed performing styles of Mikey, Biggie Irie, and Ruppee.
* Vintage Gabby — Boots, Jack and Dr. Cassandra.
* The large posse that belted out Ruppee’s I am a Bajan.
* George Jones and John Roett on keyboards.
* The artists in the audience: Miles Robertson, Smokey Burke, Smokey Roett, Winston Blackett, Shirley Stuart, Lew Drayton and David Pilgrim.
Now I ask and then what?
The Bajan ship: OUR BROTHER’S KEEPER that docked in Brooklyn on Labour Day weekend is obviously loaded with sweet golden nuggets, simply awaiting, a band to make them diamonds. I can only hope that it will sail Barbados’ passage of history — Brazil, Leeward Islands, Windward Islands, Charleston, North Carolina, Panama, North America — and make history again.
By George, the musicians of Barbados and MOCHA did it. They gave more than was expected.
Long live Millie who is alleged to have gone to Brazil and the Arawaks who came to our shores.