The diehard Jamaican that I am, for many years had bun a big blazin’ fire pon anyting dat name soca. As Caribbean music goes, my feet and waist instinctively move to the beats of reggae and dancehall music. Of course I’m just being overly dramatic, because as a child I grew up to the sounds of Byron Lee and Sparrow, and loved the musical and lyrical genius of that art form. As a teen I went into rebellion against soca, but then at University I met many people from islands such as Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, St. Vincent etc., who loved soca, in the same way I loved my Jamaican music. The moral of this intro is that the blazin’ fire was def outed as said Jamaican broke his carnival virginity at Trini Carnival 2012 last week. This wasn’t a gentle love affair either. I played 2 days of Mas and went to fetes like a kid who just discovered the joys of partying. Bleaching (aka hard partying with little sleep/rest inbetween) like I haven’t in a while and dancing like mad man…This was an experience I’ll never forget.
Let’s start with the BADS of carnival. Outside of the blazin’ hole burned through my pocket, my stomach didn’t seem to want to settle in the early days of the trip. I blamed it on imbibing a little too much spirits at fete #1, but I had started to think the spicy doubles were doing a number on my stomach lining as well. As much as I like doubles, I started to lay off of ‘em towards the later part of the trip.
Well that’s it for the bads. The GOODS were many. I was staying in the apartment of a friend of a friend, and so were about 4 other people, so it was a house full of interesting and vibrant Caribbean people, all on vacay, and all looking to have a good time. Transport was covered by the many kind friends we have in Trinidad, and the rest was just pure bleaching and bacchanal.
I went to Tribe Ignite, Soca Monarch, Scorch, Diamond Vale Breakfast Party and played Mas with Fantasy for 2 days. Highlights definitely include Diamond Vale (somewhat like Frenchmen in Jamaica, and Day 1 of Mas). You shoulda seen me all decked out in costume with my little skinny body outta door. These pictures have not surfaced, and probably never will.
All in all the women were extremely beautiful, the food good, the music infectious, and my feet sore from all the walking and dancing. There were moments when I thought if I heard that same song again I’m going to blow my brains out, but by the end, the songs and I had become one, and I actually have listened to them since returning home. They bring smiles to my face as I think of random memories from the Twin Island Republic.
In summary I give the 50th Anniversary of Trinidad Carnival a 8 out of 10. I had a great time, and I’d definitely do it again! I recommend doing it at least once in your life.
“Funny how many people asked me what I was doing today. Damn, then only reason I remembered it was Valentine’s Day was because I wanted to make a YouTube video to show my supporters how much I appreciate them. Otherwise it’s just a regular ole day.”—M.E.
2. Guess what?? The full version of my duet with Aisha Davis (co-written by yours truly), 'Love of A Lifetime', is available for purchase and download from all major online music distributors (iTunes, Amazon, eMusic etc.), in its full ‘one-drop’ glory. So excited!! - My first ever song up on iTunes :D
Have a mushy, love-filled Valentine’s Day for us both, and I really hope you enjoy.
“Relationship is needed only because you can’t be alone, because you are not yet capable of meditation. Hence, meditation is a MUST before you can really love. One should be capable of being alone, utterly alone, and yet tremendously blissful. Then you can love. Then your love is no more a need but a sharing, no more a necessity. You will not become dependent on the people you love. You will share — and sharing is beautiful.”—Osho (via breathemystardust)
As musicians there is no denying that there is a part of us that seeks approval, especially in the beginning of the journey. We hope people will like our voices, our songs and our performances, and also hope they will come and adorn us with compliments. Well compliments don’t come easily in this game, especially in Jamaica.
The strange irony is that the outsider has no clue about how insecure the performer often is. Over my years of performing I’ve discovered that fans are often very afraid that the performer thinks highly of themselves, which makes them very cautious about approaching the musical animal, which is not always the case. And rightly so, because how could someone so confident on stage be a humble and simple person? Well they exist, but like the animal kingdom, many different types exist, so the fan must thread with caution. Diva/Divo musician can be real.
In my mind I’m usually so hard on my performances that I come off the stage and sometimes hold my head down avoiding eye contact. That way I don’t have to face the looks of false approval, or what I think is false approval. People say nothing usually in 2 instances - They were blown away, or they really thought it was just ok. It really is my safe way out of possibly being disliked, which really is ok as long as it’s not the majority. The best is “You looked like you had fun.” Full stop and awkward silence…As you wait for a statement as it relates to your voice, lol. Those kill me the most.
So I encourage you to remain musically confident. Don’t let what you think was the worse performance of your life take over whatever life is left, because trust me, someone probably liked it, and maybe liked it a whole lot too, but was afraid to tell you. Remain focused, with your eye on the prize, and a heart full of gratitude for your gift that you are able to share with many. Many of my insecurities have been washed away by eternal gratitude that I get to do what I love, and make a living off of it. There really is no more to say. Keep focused and keep doing what you are doing…the benefits will come with hard word and dedication, and a true sharing of self.
Growing up in Jamaica with Bob Marley pretty much a fixture of my musical life as I know it, I never understood his impact until I was older and until I left the country. Then I saw how people responded to the power of not just his reggae music, but the genre of reggae music.
I personally want to wish Bob Marley a blessed earthstrong, and we miss his presence on the earth, but I’m sure he is still singing in another world. I particularly have to extend my gratitude because many a Bob Marley song has guided me to places I never imagined I would go - Berklee Performance Center stage at the prestigious Berklee College of Music (Boston), Final round of un-televised X Factor auditions in NJ, the final round of Amateur Night at the Apollo in Harlem, NY, the Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival small and main stage, and to many other stages across Jamaica and the USA. To Bob I say thank you once again on this day, your birthday, and I share with you some of my most memorable Bob Marley experiences:
Singers Night, Berklee Performance Center - Turn Your Lights Down Low
JA Jazz & Blues 2010 - Could You Be Loved (Arranged by Djenne Greaves, Mario Evon and Ellan Neil)
Ashford & Simpson’s Sugar Bar, NY - Redemption Song (ft. Serghio Jansen on guitar)
You’ll read this quote below and it will completely resonate… I bet it will cause you to think differently about what you do for the next 10 minutes, but I wonder how much happier we’d be if we did it for more than 10 minutes ;) - AJ
Not a question, more of a commiseration re: "I'm baaaaack". Doan have tumblr, so I can't comment directly (right?). Sometimes I feel like I'm still readjusting - 6 years later. I've been back almost as long as I was gone in the first place (wow!) (I lived in the US for 8 years; lost my a cent and e'rthing, despite my best efforts to the contrary), and I still don't feel quite right. To be honest, it's a weird in between of feeling like I never left Jamaica, which in and if itself is very...
...disconcerting, and having this vague ache of "something is missing". I don't miss the creature comforts of the US...I never really got much into those (it's spelled B-R-O-K-E), and I don't miss the culture (too materialistic for my tastes). I guess what I miss is my peoples. I miss my advisor, I miss my brothers and sisters (church), and I miss that certain level of free spiritedness and generosity that the Americans I parred with had. It's also that Kingston is harsher now than when I left..
Thanks for sharing. I agree with a lot of this, from the BROKE part to not missing too many of the creature comforts there. I miss the friends I made and the wonderful musical opportunities and again the free-spirited nature especially of NY. Being back def feels like you never left cuz so much remains the same, and yes you feel like you are missing something. Quite odd the whole thing. My life here is much longer than my life in the US, so falling back into a groove is never hard, but it is all very interesting.