Saturday, March 10, 2012

Making a splash in Anguilla

AFTER three attempts of trying to get to Anguilla for the much talked about Moonsplash Music Festival, finally got here this weekend – and after the first night of music – it was really worth the wait.

The crowd could have been better, but I am told the real bumper session is Saturday night, when the likes of Gramps Morgan, his son Jereme and Stephen Cat Coore of Third World take to the stage.

The three-day event ends on Sunday with an open air session on the beach, which I am told by the folks here, is one of the most look forward to “limes” of the year.

By the time an entire night of music ended near 4 AM Saturday, I was falling asleep on myself – but it had nothing to do with the night’s music that featured a eclectic mix of local stars, plus Junior Jazz (who had a stint with Inner Circle) and David Hinds (the voice of Steel Pulse).

The last time I spoke to Junior Jazz, it was in Miami three years ago – and we were speaking about his new gig with Inner Circle as its new front man.

I went back to Circle House earlier this year and noticed that the group was promoting a new front man – and wondered whatever happened to Junior Jazz.

Well there he was last night, as the frontman of his new group Chronic – his vocals crisp as usual and his lead ‘guitarship’ still from the top draw.

I was pleasantly surprised how tight his new band is – and I thought they outshone David Hinds who closed the night singing some of Steel Pulse’s classics such as ‘Rally Round,’ 'Blues Dance Raid' and ‘King James Version.’

There was some useful local talent onstage last night too – but the undoubted highlight was the appearance of Omari Banks (the former West Indies cricket now turned reggae star) and his band Eleven.

Omari, who was well known for going on cricket tours with his guitar in hand, showed that he is actually an accomplished lead guitarist, and his vocals were convincing as he did his own songs, including his first single “Move On” and the upcoming one 'Africa', and covers of Bob Marley and some of his father’s greatest hits such as Inspector and Prince of Darkness.

There was a nice mix of the locals and visitors on the opening night, and I had a fascinating conversation with a graying man from Maine in the USA, who flew in for the festival – and said he has been coming here for six years.

I was impressed with his remarkable knowledge of reggae music – the real vintage stuff.

There were folks from Miami and Los Angeles and London as well as next door St Maarten who confessed of being regulars to an event that over the years have received great reviews in the international press.

It is just a real cozy jam close to the beach that is set to continue tonight – the main feature being the appearance of Gramps Morgan, as well as the host Bankie Banx, who only this week released his latest album Just Cool – the title track of which as just grown on me such big time in only a few days. (Take a listen here).

It’s been a long night at the start of a very long weekend – and I suspect there won’t be a lot of rest for this ‘wicked’ until sometime Monday.

But other than the music, it’s good to be back in Anguilla, where the hotels are top-class, the sailing is great, the coconut water is aplenty – and where I have to keep constantly running away from a ceaseless supply of rum and coke.

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