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Keeping local music alive

Published: 
Friday, April 1, 2016
Moricia Cagan and Nigel O’Connor.

For more than quarter century The Mas Camp (De Nu Pub) in Woodbrook has been the most consistent showplace in the land for showcasing indigenous culture—especially calypso and pan. 

It has been the only venue to stage live calypso shows 52 Wednesday nights per year. But these days, there is also Kaiso Blues Cafe, run by husband and wife singing duo Carl and Carol Jacobs. Established exactly one year ago in Newtown on Woodford Street, Kaiso Blues Cafe aims to provide a stage for T&T’s living music legends, aspiring stars and emerging performers with weekly shows. 

One such event, the Trini Easter Jazz Brunch, was staged on Easter Sunday and featured veteran music icon Pelham Goddard & Friends as well as vocalists Natalie Yorke, Nigel O’Connor, Moricia Cagan and Jason “Fridge” Seecharan. Staged by JMVP Promotions, the event attracted a standing-room-only audience which spent the day listening to some superb music and enjoying a tasty brunch prepared by caterer Monica Gulston. Ensuring that the music would be perfect were Japanese engineers Yoichi Watanabe and Katz JP Imani, both lecturers at the University of TT.
 
Looking beautiful in white lace, Yorke opened the vocals. This Shades of Black/Kassav singer did standards like Caught up in the Rapture, Smoke Gets In Your Eyes, Theme From Alfie and For Once In My Life. She was followed by an instrumental of Human Nature. 

O’Connor then did Autumn Leaves, Colour of Love, David Rudder’s Song For A Lonely Soul, and the popular Nat/Natalie Cole classic Unforgettable with Cagan. He also surprised all by announcing his intention to marry Cagan “soon,” an announcement which seemed to also surprise his partner. Cagan composed herself enough to occupy centre stage, in white and black leather, to render One Day I’ll Fly Away and Etta James’ immortal At Last. 

Cagan must have won new fans when she sang Morena Osha, a song made popular by Gail McLean, singing lead years ago for the late Andre Tanker & Contraband. Cagan then pushed it over the top when she sang Aretha Franklyn’s You Make Me Feel Like A Natural Woman. Her pitch and delivery were flawless and she had patrons swooning and singing along with relish. She rounded off her set with Gregory Ballantyne’s Calypso Rising. Cagan will do her first solo concert at Kaiso Blues on May 29. 

After intermission the band did another instrumental—Too Close for Comfort. The band comprised Goddard (keyboards), Malcolm Boyce (saxophone), Javen Ocho (guitar), Keshan Jack (bass) and Vonrick Maynard (drums). 

Seecharan, who is releasing his first solo CD shortly, displayed his prowess as a solo performer in his set. The former H2O Phlo singer opened with Teddy Pendergras’ Can’t Get Enough of Your Love Baby, and proceeded to do Ascension, Sinatra’s Strangers in the Night, My Cheri Amor by Stevie Wonder’, McFadden & Whitehead’s Ain’t No Stopping Us Now, and Pharell’s Get Lucky. 

Closing a concert of superbly executed music and performances, the band did Carl and Carol Jacobs’ From Now On. Patrons were delighted when the husband and wife made an impromptu appearance to sing a verse and chorus of this timeless love ballad. The show ended at 1.50 pm, with some patrons lingering afterwards. 

Gibbons to be inducted into Sunshine Hall of Fame 
Last December, the 2015 Induction Ceremony to the Sunshine Awards Hall of Fame was held in New York. Because of the short and cramped 2016 Carnival season, most of the local inductees were unable to make the trip to the US for the ceremony. Induction to the Hall of Fame will now be held on Tuesday, April 5, at the VIP Lounge, Grand Stand, Queen’s Park Savannah, Port-of-Spain at 6 pm, and yours truly is among the inductees. 

While I am humbled by this honour, I am also pleased as punch to join two of my cousins among the inductees, they are playwright Rawle Gibbons and veteran musician Pelham Goddard.

Other inductees include Professor Dr Gordon Rohlehr, iconic composer Winsford “Jokey” Devine, Massy Trinidad All Stars arranger Leon “Smooth” Edwards and Godfrey Augustine. By the way, Smooth and I also attended the same college, Queen’s Royal College. 

The Hall of Fame committee, in a release, stated that we are being recognised for our “contribution to our lives and all your efforts to enrich our world.” 

Parang in April 
Parang queens Alicia Jagessar and Sharlene Flores will share the stage for the first time at the Kaiso Blues Café tomorrow. Jagessar has confirmed that the legendary Flores, a recent recipient of the Humming Bird (Silver) National Award, will be part of her set at the Woodford Street venue for her La Casa de Fusion solo concert. 

The Los Alumnos de San Juan lead singer is set to showcase her musical range with an up close and personal concert experience, featuring Latin pop, bachata, calypso and soca music. Flores will join her for a couple duets. 

“It’s an honour to have the opportunity to share a stage with Sharlene. She has done so much for not only parang but Latin music as a whole in T&T. I’m looking forward to putting on a great show together,” said Jaggasar of the concert. 

Jagessar will be backed on the night by a talented cast of musicians including keyboardist Simon Mendoza and percussionist Ernesto Garcia of Venezuela, as well as some members of her Los Alumnos family. 

Former national calypso monarch Roderick “Chuck” Gordon will also perform Latin remixes of classic calypsoes alongside Jagessar. Jagessar said La Casa de Fusion will be a unification of cultures and musical expression that true music lovers will appreciate. 

“It’s a coming together of all the genres I love. I’ve grown up performing all types of music. Sure people may know me best for my work in parang, but there are so many more dimensions to me as a performer,” said the petite songstress. 

“We’ve really developed a tight sound and great chemistry as a band, so I’m excited to showcase that. I think this show is for anyone who genuinely appreciates music. I promise to give them plenty to write home about.” 

Log on to Alicia Jagessar and Los Alumnos de San Juan social media pages for ticket information on La Casa de Fusion and fully interactive up-to-the-minute updates, photos and videos of upcoming events. 

Pan Trinbago retreat 
Point Fortin Mayor Clyde Paul played host to Pan Trinbago Inc last Friday, when the organisation held its annual retreat at Clifton Hill Beach Resort. It was a bittersweet day as the organisation was thrown into sadness with news of the passing of Horace Arnold, vice chairman of the Tobago Region. 

Arnold died suddenly en route to the ANR Robinson airport, to come to the retreat. Notwithstanding, a contingent of four Tobago Region members did make the journey to spend the day with their Trinidad colleagues. A minute of silence was observed for Arnold. Mayor Paul spent most of the day with the Pan Trinbago executive and guests who represented the organisation’s four regions.

Secretary Richard Forteau toasted Pan Trinbago employees who had celebrated birthdays from January to March. Pan Trinbago president Keith Diaz thanked mayor Paul for his benevolence. Diaz also lauded him for placing pan at the heart of the annual Point Fortin Borough Day Celebrations to be launched on April 22, at Victor Chin Kit Park, at 5.30 pm.

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