Monthly Archives: January 2016

DESPERS, THE HILL & THE GREENS, & THE SOUL OF THIS PLACE

Place: North Stand, Queen’s Park Savannah.
Time: Panorama Semis 2016.

Despers were by far the best playing big band on the day. They did the Hill proud in a dark time. It was a finals type performance in sophistication and intensity. Mesmeric on a night when the small and medium size bands on the whole played better than the big bands who were mostly formulaic and dull. The band that for me sounded better than the rest- Angel Harps- did not even make it into the finals. That massive distance between myself and the culture judges and between our culture judges and the artistic truth seems to be widening….

Just some quick notes: The magical sight of Despers in the desolate Grey Friars lot on Frederick Street is a revelation that all Trinbagonians should witness. There is something RIGHT about it. You will feel a shock of recognition, and let me tell you what it is. Despers on Frederick Street represents one of the only representations of the ‘Indigenous’ on our main street in our capital city! And it feels good. Despers’ presence shows up just how much WE are not present in our public spaces and how much foreign content rules our imagination, civic life, and the things we consume. Despers in Grey Friars shows up how much we have alienated our phenomenal Legacy from the main stream of our life and how much we are ‘not about our Father’s business. It also intimates to me a vision of the power of the Creative Sector’s plan for the Grey Friar’s site. It is a vision we will have to battle the current owner who destroyed the Heritage buildings there for. The plans for the Grey Friar’s site is to have 2 buildings mirroring the Church and the Hall that were originally on the property. One building is going to be called ‘The Word’ and the other building ‘The Guild’.
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DAVID BOWIE R.I.P.

1976: David Bowie poses for an RCA publicity shot in 1976. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

David Bowie, 1947-2016, poses for an RCA publicity shot in 1976. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

David Bowie- legendary musician, transgressor, actor, and barrier-breaking performance artist is dead… Musician Gao Xiasong wrote “Time is cruel. One after the other the heroes of my youth disappear.” Truer words were never spoken… News of Bowie’s death shocked me, not only because, “Bowie always seemed like the kind of person that was just always around.” But because Bowie felt not just ‘part of’ but ‘integral’ to my youth. Personally, I will unashamedly say as an artist he is an indispensable part of my Voice.

As a stylist Bowie is said to be one of the most influential figures in pop culture. Ever. Bowie broke the mold, becoming a new kind of artist who used pop music to platform a new type of performance art which exercised a new type of influence on mainstream Western culture. When he appeared in the 1970s there was no precedent for him in pop culture- although in a way he was a natural urban evolution after 60s psychedelia and lifestyle experimentation. He channelled all manner of underground cultures and synthesised them into his stage shows which were held together by mythologies he created around personas he invented around himself. Each album was another chapter in an evolving story involving his mutating characters. Read the rest of this entry

FOR JIT. R.I.P.

Jit SamarooAs we close in on the last pages of the final chapter of this country’s Golden Age generation, with still everything left to do in terms of even STARTING a Nation- another exclamation mark falls off the page… I’ve been churning to stammer yet another acknowledgement of yet another death of yet another burning Genius when another Genius psalmed the praise song before me, better than I could ever utter it: Roger Bonair-Agard–our national Poet Laureate in Exile–on the profound Genius of Jit Samaroo.

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REST IN PEACE NATALIE COLE

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Natalie Cole, 1950 – 2015

RIP Princess Cole… Coming on the heels of Aretha Franklin’s reminder of the enduring miraculous power of the black female Soul Divas at the 2015 Kennedy Centre Honours this week Natalie Cole’s passing at ‘only 65’ is tragic. At the risk of sacrilege I have to say I heard Natalie perform twice and I was overwhelmed. I shockingly found her to be a superior craftsman than all the senior Divas who were her mentors in form- Aretha, Patti, Chaka, and others. I was astounded that I had never heard anyone speak of her talent in those terms- in recognition of her magnitude. She had the range of Patti La Belle, the scream of a Chaka, the soul and blues of Aretha- but she also had Jazz sophistication. I was awestruck. There seemed to be nothing that she could not do with her voice- and she had the musical intelligence to take a song where it wanted to go. ALL the way. One performance in particular was like listening to vocal infinity!… It’s not an argument I’m willing to pursue further without proper investigation but her 2 performances still remain for me the optimum manifestation of the Blues/Soul/Jazz tradition that I have ever heard in live performance. They were a blessing to witness. A triumph given the demons she fought in her life. May she Rest in Peace.