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Music festival in Bequia a success

Music festival in Bequia a success

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by Jonathan Ashby

Bequia’s annual musical festival held last weekend was the best yet.

Ask newly appointed Minister of Tourism, Sport and Culture, Glen Beache. He showed up on the opening night and declared the night’s performance as one of the best music events he has ever been to.

The four-year-old event, organised by the Bequia Tourism Association, rocked the island with three rich days of sensational jazz, blues, reggae, rock, and soul – performed by some of the hottest musicians ever to tour the Caribbean.{{more}}

The three-day event kicked off on Friday night at the Plantation House Hotel with all the stars performing at this year’s Mustique Blues Festival – thanks to the support of Mustique maverick Basil Charles and Dana Gillespie and Her London Blues Band, who together have been bringing their performances to Bequia for a night of blues since 2001.

A large international audience enjoyed an exceptional evening of music building up to a stunning performance from American blues singer/guitarist Eugene “Hideaway” Bridges and a foot stompin’ finale from blues ‘n’ soul man Luddie Sams who kept the crowd on their feet until 2 a.m.

On Saturday night, Tropicana II, a hot, five-piece band featuring musicians from Trinidad, the UK and the USA, opened the show at the Plantation House Hotel, with a foot-stomping mix of jazz, rock and reggae – with guest performances from Bequia musicians and singers Enos Penniston, Kyron Baptiste and Colin Peters.

Next on stage – an exceptionally smooth and sublime jazz set from the Anglo/Trinidadian group The Michael Boothman Quintet.

Toby Armstrong and the Mount Gay Rum Blues Band from Barbados closed the Saturday night show with a sensational set of dance music, ranging through soul, rock, blues and jazz – delivering without doubt the best performance at this year’s festival.

On Sunday at De Reef, Lower Bay’s internationally renowned beachside restaurant, a free afternoon of music brought another huge crowd to hear more superb performances by Bequia band Honky Tonics, Tropicana II, and the Michael Boothman Quintet.

Mount Gay Rum, main sponsors of the Music Fest along with Karib Cable and SVG Air, livened up the afternoon with gifts and prizes of rum, T-shirts and souvenirs, ensuring the audience was in good spirits for the stunning festival finale from Tony Armstrong and the Mount Gay Rum Blues Band.

The crowd of Bequians, other Vincentians and tourists from South and North America, and Europe, screamed, cheered, danced, sang along and begged for more.

“Everyone had a great time. The number who attended was way up on last year. It was very successful,” jubilant event director Louis O’Neil told Searchlight on Monday.

“More than 500 people came to the festival on Friday and Saturday and there were over 400

people at De Reef on Sunday. All of the island’s guesthouses and rental property owners were very busy.

“After three great years in a row, Bequia’s music festival is now well and truly on the world map of international music events.”

“However, if we end up making a modest profit, it will be carried forward to help fund next year’s festival,” Louise, a popular island keyboard player, added.

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