ST Lucia Jazz & Arts Festival 2015 (Caribbean Event Review)
By Marie-Ella Williams
My baptism into a Caribbean Jazz Festival took place on none other than the beautiful island of St. Lucia. By sheer coincidence, a previously planned vacation coincided with the dates of the Festival and I am ever grateful for this twist of fate by the Festival Gods. I arrived on the island a few days before the official activities began, but, things were already gearing up for the twenty fourth (24th) annual celebration and you could feel the buzz of excitement on the island. Tourists and artistes were coming in by the droves, getting ready for what was promised to be an action packed weekend. It was obvious that there was some investment into preparing the infrastructure of the island for the onslaught of crowds ( I later found out that Saint Lucia Tourist Board and the Cultural Development Foundation were major partners in the event). And, I was pleased to see a balance of local and foreign acts, fit to keep diverse musical palettes engaged ,while, increasing exposure of local talent.
In my head, I thought I was going to go sight seeing on this vacation ; visit the Pitons even take a bath in the sulphur springs. But, there was absolutely too much activity close to my hotel in Rodney Bay to even entertain regular tourist activities. The air was electric with excitement. So much so, that we, regular tourists, could not help but get caught up in its wave. There was also the bonus of seeing a dedicated focus to showcasing the local talent of the island which meant that my crew did not have to forgo enjoying the local culture while participating in the Jazz Festival. One such display was ‘ The Arts Village’ designed to profile fashion, poetry, dance and jazz. The events that I attended included the Friday night street party that kicked off the weekend’s event. It was one for my vacation history books.
Hundreds of ‘Lucians’ and visitors converged on the tiny streets of Gros Islet Friday to experience the early strains of the St Lucia Jazz Festival and the weekly Friday Night street party rolled into one. It was great to see the blend of locals and tourists ((English, French, Americans, and fellow West Indians) mixing together and enjoying the fun. Because the environment was so festive, there was no undue worry about safety beyond what common sense would dictate. Everyone just seemed to be there to enjoy the talent the music and the food.
The evening’s event began with a street parade of Moko Jumbies, and masqueraders in costumes who were dancing to the strains of local Lucian zouk and the sweet shuffle of drums. On the crowded streets vendors served all forms of liquor from Appleton rum and Campari to Piton beer and vodka;, along with jerk and fried and grilled fish and chicken. The evening was heated with music from bands like DYP –Derek Yard Project who offered a scintillating performance ranging from zouk to soca and international rhythms. One of the major highlights was their rendition of Trinbagonian artiste, Bunji Garlin’s, hit song called “Differentology”. Jah Cure also joined the festival celebration at Soufriere mini stadium on opening night (Thursday). And on Sunday May 3, Rodney Bay came alive at De Fire Grill restaurant with Lightning Stars International Drummers and the band Pulse who played well into the early morning hours entertaining locals and visitors at one of St Lucia’s more frequented tourist resorts. If that was just the beginning I can only imagine what comes next with the other artistes lined up until May 10th including Arturo Tappin, Jimmy Cliff, Robin Thicke, Chrisette Michelle and Destra Garcia to name a few. As for me, guess I just have to plan that relaxing St. Lucia vacation for a next time…..
Read more on the Festival here: http://stluciatimes.com/article/rodney-bay-strip-transformation-24th-st-lucia-jazz-arts-festival