It may not have boasted the star studded R & B names of years past but it was still arguably one of the best parties thrown in the month of May. This year’s St. Lucia Jazz Festival served a special blend of carnival flavoured delights with the likes of Destra Garcia, Shall Marshall, Evalution Band, Hollywood HP, Shemy J and Nerdy, Ezra d’Funmachine and Redbull 3style winner, Deejay Puffy all combining to usher the next project for the Events St. Lucia team, Carnival.
For years, locals here and abroad have been vocal about the quality of music and artistes gracing the St. Lucia Jazz main stage. Questions of their Jazz legitimacy, just a tip of the ice berg which formulated quarrels that sometimes spanned days. Another notable argument was the fact that Jazz Sunday should be used as a major selling tool for our Carnival and thus should incorporate a Carnival atmosphere so as to encourage visitors to return to the island and locals to partake in the bacchanalia.
The cries clearly had not fallen on deaf ears as this year’s festival featured the best of both worlds. Dubbed the mother’s day special, Sunday Jazz rolled out a teasing line-up (The Frantz Laurac Quartet, Ronald ‘Boo’ Hinksonand Friends, R+R=NOW with Robert Glasper, Terrace Martin, Christian Scott, Derrick Hodge, Taylor McFerrin and Justin Tyson and Avery Sunshine) guaranteed to satisfy those Jazzy appetites.. would feature the biggest Jazz after Party with some of the hottest names in Soca music. Igniting the fire, was the stylings of Deejay Puffy, who for twenty minutes kept the audience moving with a clean, flawless mix of Soca, Reggae and yes the Dennery Segment.
A short break was needed just enough to allow the patrons who had now transformed from Jazz sophisticates to bacchanal children, time to breathe and some retrieve their shoes and rags that may have been misplaced in the moves. During that time the Evalucian Band had completed their set up and was ready to jam away with the four time Groovy monarch, Arthur at the helm. Belting his hits including the “Mama” a song done for all mothers, Arthur had the crowd moving to his groovy hits and singing along when they were prompted.
Hollywood HP who looked like he was fresh from a scene in the movie Hostiles, turned up the energy with his singles “In De Bay” and “Drama”. He also came prepared to pay homage to the mothers present and freestyled a few bars for them as he made way for Shemy J and Nerdy to keep the crowd “Bouncing”. Not only did they perform the afro-beat influenced crowd favourite they also introduced a few of the new material for 2018. The local leg was capped off with a performance from the energy man himself Ezra who didn’t come alone, inviting his Aye-Ai-Ai massive to perform the crowd pleaser “Swim My Way”.
The mode was now set and it was time for the guests to take to the stage and what an ovation it was for “Splinters” performer Shall Marshall. If anyone who had lost shoes earlier in the other performances had any plans of finding them, they were quashed as Socalovers clustered together singing along to “Splinters” and “Dip”.
If that wasn’t enough the icing on the cake came when Destra Garcia hit the stage ready to transform the Pigeon Island National Landmark into the Hasely Crawford Stadium on Fantastic Friday. The “Lucy” singer had everyone in a frenzy from beginning to end and her introduction of the president of the Destra Fan Club, Kisha, to perform T.P.M. (The People Man) only added to the ecstasy.
The After-Party served its purpose – to give us a glimpse of what to expect in the coming weeks as we gear up for Saint Lucia Carnival, and now like many of those in attendance, we want more.