Erphaan Alves from Trinidad, backed by veteran band Imij and Company, headlined the Bequia Mount Gay Musicfest 2019 to a full house on Saturday night at De Reef. Erphaan gave enthusiastic fans his famous rendition of the soca ballad “Overdue” among other hits, and blackmailed clients with him into the magic of live entertainment. Imij and Company also gave revelers what they wanted, headlining Friday night at the Plantation Hotel, as well as supporting Alves on Saturday. Sunday’s draw was the iconic Beckett, the seemingly ‘ageless’ ABC of Calypso, who didn’t disappoint, with softer soca music and a terrific old-fashioned Vincy-style brass section, competently backed by Bequia’s Infinity and group leader Uthan McIntosh. The annual live music festival opened on Wednesday, January 30, with a candlelight dinner and jazz concert, featuring Caribbean Creole jazz group GBK from Martinique and Rodney Small and the Essence Band, both bands setting the tone for a high level of entertainment during the five-day festival.
2019 saw a plethora of Vincentian musicians perform at different parties with an emphasis on “Soca Sunday”, dedicated to local talent. In addition to the famous ABC, Pan Boss Rodney Small had a second performance, and many great Vincy artists have been featured such as Hance, LPank, Nicki Pierre, D’Termine, Kyron Baptiste, Keido supported by the Vykinz Band, all were well received, especially Hance.
Other Vincentian artists featured this weekend included legendary singer and pianist Andy Cruickshank and trumpeter Hasani Arthur. Not to be outdone Thursday night, at the favorite Frangipani Hotel Musicfest, the 14 musicians Elite Steel Orchestra gave an energetic performance, led by conductor and arranger Kesslon Wilson.
The surprise of the weekend, with a party-style performance on Friday night at the stunning Plantation Hotel, came from headliners Imij and Company and conductor, guitarist Joey Ng Wai. Despite the pouring rain, Imij increased the energy and even gave an impressive, impromptu and improvised musical booth, between Ng Wai and singer Stuart Silva which was truly spectacular. Young band Bajan Kevan Sahai and the Crashers also performed great music, earning their place in the prestigious Bequia festival. Cuban guitarist and singer Rey Escobar, supported by local talent from Joff Venner and others, gave an excellent Latin performance, in a well-rounded musical evening that makes this product so unique.
With over 130 regional and local musicians performing at the five-day, six-event festival held in Bequia at the end of each January, the Bequia Musicfest 2019 was “the best in live entertainment”!
The Bequia Mount Gay Music Festival is run by the Bequia Tourism Association and its Musicfest committee, headed by director Sabrina Mitchell, and presents a wide variety of musical genres, drawing visitors from all over the world, filling Admiralty Bay with yachts; every hotel room and guesthouse on the island; and every restaurant and bar at full capacity, for this regionally renowned music festival, which celebrates the best of SVG and the region. The Minister of Tourism, Sports and Culture the Hon. Cecil McKie addressed customers on Friday evening expressing her pleasure in being present and welcomed visitors, boaters and all attendees to the Bequia Music Fest – one of the many festivals that St. Vincent has to offer. He stressed the importance of the AIA airport in ensuring a smooth journey to SVG for all musicians and guest clients. The Minister thanked the director of the Bequia Music Fest Sabrina Mitchell and her committee for a job well done.
Designed by the BTA over 16 years ago to boost the tourism economy in Bequia, the minister acknowledged that the non-profit Bequia Music Fest is now a well established event in the tourism calendar of the SVG Tourism Authority. , who are also a major sponsor, and who help with the logistics of the airport transfer for the invited musicians.
Speaking about the annual festival, director Sabrina Mitchell said the extra night added on Wednesday was an attempt to expand the festival, with the long-term goal of making it a week, as it brings much needed income to the ensemble. de Bequia, who feel real ownership and pride in this annual event. The dinner and jazz concert were sold out, with a delicious and elegant three-course menu, prepared by Mustique chef Peter Ollivierre.
Mitchell spoke of the challenges of running such a logistically complicated event on a low budget and credited the volunteers and many companies at Bequia, whose moral support ensures the sustainability of this important community event. . She thanked the festival’s partner restaurants and partner taxis who provided much needed support. She added that the secret of the festival’s success is the unity it brings between our Vincentian and regional musicians and our locals and visitors, sharing the common bond of love of music for a few days together, in the intimate atmosphere. for which the festival is famous. .
In the 2019 Festival lineup, Jazz Night was designed to be a mellow night out, but Rodney Small had other ideas and stole the show, mesmerizing patrons with his unique showmanship and talent. GBK the Creole jazz band was so good that customers begged them to come back for an encore in 2020. Soulful Jazz singer Debbie Reifer from Barbados added to the real jazz vibes, and finally, Spanish flamenco guitarist Hector Belda Om, also a luthier presented this unique musical genre and flamenco lifestyle.
Remember, the Saturday afternoon outdoor jam under the palm trees was better than ever. The headliner was the Barbados Band Lennox, with their unique reggae and r and b style, which performed in 2018 and was back by popular demand. The Bequia Blues Band, also a Musicfest staple, with Uthan McIntosh, Jerry Simpson, Mikey Wilke, Nicola Cornwell had a special performer this year, the talented guitarist Joshu of Antigua, who, in addition to a memorable solo performance, filled for the conductor Bob Berlinghof, who could not be present. The relaxed afternoon also included Jan and Louis and the Infinity Band and was well attended by families and kids alike enjoying a laid back afternoon of great food, live entertainment and ambiance.
Saturday night’s party at De Reef had a poor performance from Dominica’s WCK, who failed to deliver their well-known hits as expected, mostly playing new, unknown songs, but it didn’t. dampened the enthusiasm of the customers, who nevertheless celebrated. This was certainly not the case with Marius Charlemagne, Philip 7 and Kweku Jelani of the NJ30 group, who gave a super high voltage performance and captivated the audience with a strong connection. Veteran MusicFest performer, Charlemagne of NJ 30, the bassist and conductor knows what Bequia music lovers want and delivered hands down! The Energy group, with Godfred Ollivierre, opened the show on Saturday evening with their unique style.
The group Bequia Kids on Pan is noted for the important role in the development of young musicians. Beautifully costumed in white shirts and gold bow ties, the young pan group opened the show on Sunday with an impressive performance. Pan in Bequia originated with another music lover, bringing pan music to the young people of Bequia over ten years ago, starting with just two musicians and Professor Elvis Seales. Now, many years later, with the addition of teacher Kesslon Wilson and under the leadership of Levi Walker and his committee, with the support of Leaf International, the Bequia Kids on Pan has grown into an impressive group of young panners. totaling more than 40 players, ranging from 6 to 20 years old.
The Bequia Mount Gay Musicfest in 2019 has widely embraced social media and garnered a lot of positive comments and participation this year. The event clearly showed that this festival is part of the social fabric of Bequia. Visitors plan their vacations around MusicFest dates and locals look forward to it every year. The musicians who participated continue to recognize the high level of professionalism, speedy execution and exceptional hospitality offered by the Bequia Music Festival committee. This year was no exception, with an event that went smoothly, run entirely by volunteers and producing one of the best events in the area on a very low budget.
The festival is sponsored by platinum sponsor Mount Gay Rum, the international brand owned by Remy Cointreau, which continues to invest in Bequia’s flagship event every year. The Gold Sponsors are the SVG Tourism Authority, the Bequia Plantation Hotel and Hairoun Beer, who have also been a loyal festival partner for over ten years. This year, two new sponsors, the Grenadine Sea Salt Company, owned by Bequia owner Jerry Simpson, as well as Going Places Travel. Other sponsors included Outhouse Graphics, Frangipani Hotel, De Reef, MasterRoom Studios, Boom FM, Cocoa Cola, Tus-t Water, Greater Antilles Music, Quik Print, Compass Publishing and Ticketpal Caribbean. The sound engineering has been exceptionally provided by Platinum Sounds.
If you missed out on a big weekend of entertainment magic, plan next year …… the dates are set from January 29 to February 2, 2020.