FROM JAZZ TO CARNIVAL
St. Lucia Jazz Festival, 2003, the 12th in a row of continuing successes. In spite of the scare of SARS and the unemployment problems in the USA, Jazz lovers and those seeking a good time musically, converged on St. Lucia.
Jazz is definitely a cultural art form which can be addictive. This year’s Jazz Festival, Pigeon Island Landmark main stage performances, Saturday and Sunday were very enjoyable for me. I even developed an appreciation for the Big Screens where it is possible to be away from the crowd and enjoy oneself in a smaller group. It is necessary to make some psychological adjustment to accept the fact that you can be away from the main stage crowd and enjoy yourself just as much looking at the big screen.
It is hard to say which of the two days was better, Saturday or Sunday? On Saturday, I missed Mike Phillips but fortunately, I had a taste of him when he made a guest appearance during the performance of Unwrapped All Stars. Mike Phillips is Energy, his performance was electrifying, he was in flight to the sky. The angels heard his sax. However, it was Sunday, the last two performances that moved me to request that the organizers seek to book James Brown and Ossie Scott for St. Lucia Jazz Festival, 2004. Two musical icons, one from the USA and the other from Jamaica, our very own. If we can ever get these two super acts to perform on the same day at Pigeon Island Landmark, that will be a Show of Shows. My imagination goes wild with just the thought of hearing Soul Sensation James Brown sing, ‘It is a Man’s World’, and Ossie Scott with vocal background playing, ‘Stealing Love on the Side’. Many persons are likely to feel that Ossie Scott plays only popular ballad tunes but my first live encounter with him was at a Mutual Life of Jamaica, Jazz in the Basement Concert in the early 90s.
I was set up to receive the musical offerings of Four Play as I had the opportunity to watch them on BET Jazz Channel the previous Sunday. I knew in advance that Jazz Lovers were in for a treat. I was impressed once again last Sunday, and on that occasion, it was live, before my eyes. Then it was Earth, Wind and Fire with a prolific performance. St. Lucia real nice! Sitting under the stars, tapping my feet in good company, I really enjoyed myself. Thanks for the comfort provided by the Heineken Booth. This year the area was accessible to all persons attending the festival.
Jazz really does something to its followers. It is a special type of music. If you expose yourself to it, you can only love it. The artistes give of themselves, Body, Soul and Spirit. What an occasion it was, St. Lucia Jazz Festival, 2003 will long be remembered and gives the patrons every reason for many of them to be back next year, bringing their friends with them to share the experience.
From Jazz to Carnival, do I say Cricket in between? I was very happy to see that a window for the promotion of Carnival was opened during the Jazz Festival. The Executive Director of the Cultural Development Foundation, Mr. Teddy Francis is taking the task of making Carnival a success seriously. He stood alongside his team at the booth, ensuring that he personally delivered the invitation to visitors to be a part of Carnival 2003.
I admire Mr. Francis, he understands his role. He keeps potential and existing sponsors, influential persons and groups in our society updated on the activities of the CDF on a quarterly basis. He was successful last year and with the cooperation of the stakeholders and his team, Carnival in St. Lucia seems set to go from strength to strength, following in the footsteps of our Jazz Festival. Carnival Season, 2003 starts July 5 and ends on July 22. The Carnival information booklet is out and it contains the schedule of events. Once again, we can look forward to being host to several overseas visitors. St. Lucia seems set to challenge the rest of the region for the position as the Head Quarters for partying! Something special is happening in St. Lucia.
Mr. Etienne, Director of HMS was also at the Jazz Festival, pushing the sales of CDs produced by local artistes. He promised to be more visible next year. Hopefully, the HMS will have its own booth like CDF. When we think about locally produced music, the name Boo Hinckson comes to mind. I will never forget when his band played at the Super Bowl a few years ago. That was recognition and marked a great achievement for Boo and his team. He continues to make us proud with the launch of his latest CD in time for Jazz, 2003.
St. Lucia has a lot to offer but the pace has to be quickened if a number of us are to realize our dreams before it is too late. The OECS-Export Development Unit based in Dominica recently recruited a consultant to look into the filming industry with the hope of producing movies and documentaries. Jazz Festival and Carnival should provide commercial opportunities by filming the programmes. I am ecstatic at the fact that as I travel around the world that people walk up to me and enquire if I am James Earl Jones? I am here eagerly awaiting a movie contract when that potential will bring me dollars in the bank. It is the same for many of us who can make money at what we do or can do should the real opportunities be exploited.
What other businesses could be done during Jazz Festival and Carnival Season. Let us put our heads together and come up with some ideas. Maybe, the Tourist Board and the CDF could co-sponsor an investment seminar, targeted to small business persons in the entertainment and tourism sectors. There seems to be opportunities for investment in CDs and Mementos production.
What about Jazz after the Festival, there is need for a few Jazz Clubs. Venues like Balembouche, Fond D’or, etc should be utilized more often. We must expose our local artistes so that they can establish themselves professionally. A few persons have gotten into business as a result of the Jazz Festival. My good friend Hector Joseph (Hector Selector) was back this year with a group from London. Londoners spend a few extra days after Jazz and take time off to tour the island. I am hopeful that tour operators like him would expand their businesses to include Carnival tours. In the meantime, you can check out his website at www.stluciauk.co.uk
It was another great Jazz Festival, everyone is getting ready to wine but before Carnival, it is Cricket. A public holiday is in order.
Yahweh is in charge! Keep the Faith!