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Bequia Mount Gay Music Fest 2012 – ‘Just amazing …!’

Bequia Mount Gay Music Fest 2012 – ‘Just amazing …!’

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Minister of Tourism and Industry Saboto Caesar visited Bequia last week to launch the Bequia Tourism Association’s 9th annual Bequia Mount Gay Music Fest.{{more}} Opening the event on Thursday 26 at the Frangipani Hotel, he addressed a record crowd of visitors, yachtsmen and Bequia residents who thronged the open air waterfront bar to hear and be amazed by the outstanding young talent of the 13- piece Elite Steel Orchestra from St. Vincent.

And that was just the beginning of what proved to be an extraordinary weekend of musical entertainment. The tiny Grenadine island of Bequia began filling up with visitors in the days before the event with a record 200 or more yachts filling the harbour in Admiralty Bay. Many who came had planned their visit specifically to be in Bequia for the Music Fest – one family sailed all the way from the UK just to be in Bequia in time for this now world-famous event. Some had followed the publicity and the buzz and were eager to find out for themselves if the event would live up to the hype; others who were simply on vacation found themselves caught up in the excitement. And hundreds came from St. Vincent for the weekend, eagerly anticipating what some said afterwards was one of the best musical productions they had seen in St. Vincent and the Grenadines in the last year. Those who could not attend enjoyed a live broadcast and internet stream of all the performances on Cross County Radio and Nice Radio, reaching a truly global audience.

Conceived by the Bequia Tourism Association twelve years ago to create a much-needed boost to the tourism economy in Bequia between Christmas and Easter, the not-for-profit Bequia Music Fest is now established as a vitally important factor in the season for all stakeholders, large and small.

Friday night belonged to the Mustique Blues Festival, with record crowds turning out to see the legendary Dana Gillespie and her London Blues Band and guests. Basil Charles introduced the evening which many declared the greatest Mustique Blues performance ever in Bequia! Italian percussionist and ukulele player Veronica won over many hearts as did the guest performances by pianists Julien Brunetaud and Paddy Milner, guitarist Lewis Cohen, drummers Enrico Morena and Jamie Little, and the thrilling Chicagoan Blues maestro Zach Prather. Dana Gillespie and her London Blues Band with Jake Zaitz on guitar, Jeff Walker on bass and Mike Paice on sax and harmonica wowed the crowd leaving them hungry for more. Basil Charles’ Mustique Blues musicians graciously volunteer their performance in Bequia in exchange for a generous contribution by the event organizers to the Basil Charles Education Foundation, and they can been seen again in St. Vincent today, Friday, 3rd February, at the Aquatic Club.

Music Fest main sponsor Bequia Beach Hotel in Friendship provided the perfect venue on Saturday afternoon for a relaxing Jazz and Blues Jam by the beach with impromptu performances by fifteen musicians including the hugely popular Music Fest co-founder Louis O’Neil on piano and Jan Smith on sax, trumpeter Jim Coleman, guitarists Bob Berlinghof and Wry Worry, Stan and Cora on piano and sax, with Vincentians “Patches” Knights on piano, Judy Boucher on vocals, Thomas Richards on bass, and “Flour” Haddaway on drums. With no admission charge and the perfect setting to draw the crowds, over eight hundred people gathered to eat, drink and enjoy the music.

Down at De Reef, the 1000-plus crowd on Saturday night enjoyed a perfect evening, with the option to lime outside under the stars and watch the action on the 20ft live feed screen, or get up close to the stage in the packed nightclub atmosphere created inside the venue. After opening sets on Saturday night from St. Vincent reggae band Versatile, and outstanding young singer/songwriter Amanda Gooding who launched her first CD that night, it was the turn of the “Bajan Invajan” to bring down the house.

Up first was the extraordinary guitarist and songwriter Simon Pipe with uniquely talented vocalist Indrani and percussionist /vocalist Onika. Next was Bimstone led by guitarist extraordinaire Scotty Z, with Jae Johansen on guitar and vocals, Marius on bass and Kirk Redman on drums, who got the crowd on their feet with a superb mix of rock and reggae. Then it was the turn of the Caribbean’s smoothest, saxiest horn man Arturo Tappin, who treated the crowd to a thrilling 90 minute set, complete with a heart stopping trio of Bajan female vocalists – Betty Payne, Niki Nicole and Faith Hoyte who took the already stunning set to the next level. The crowd went wild when Bequia Mount Gay Music Fest favourites the phenomenal NEXCYX closed out the show, bringing the excitement to fever pitch till 2.30am. Promises to return by all the visiting musicians left Bequia looking forward already to 2013!

Sunday afternoon at De Reef in Lower Bay saw a relaxed and varied crowd enjoy the closing day, with great performances by the Bequia’s Country Relatives, Denzil Bacchus Blues Band from St. Vincent, The Honky Tonics with Jim Coleman, Patches Knight and Kyron Baptiste and the Bequia Blues Band. As the sun went down, Music Fest guitar legend Toby Armstrong won ever more fans with his extraordinary performance, along with award-winning pan virtuoso Ziggy Walcott, drummer Jamal Browne, Garvie Griffith on vocals and acoustic guitar, Marius Charlemagne on bass, with guest vocals by Philip Scantlebury.

And the Mount Gay Surprise finale? What better than another full hour of NEXCYX! All Bequia was waiting for more and they were not disappointed: The Bajan band’s closing performance of Bequia Mount Gay Music Fest 2012 was a truly fitting climax to a fabulous weekend.

International music business executive and Bequia homeowner Richard Savage had nothing but praise to offer: “After ten years of visiting music festivals and more gigs than I can remember, I was mightily impressed by the organisation and line up of Music Fest 2012,” said Savage. “To create a three-day show that runs as smoothly as this requires an incredible amount of work and organisation behind the scenes and Bequia should be very proud of producing a first class event… with a …broad mix of superbly played homegrown and international music … cleverly programmed to appeal to a wide range of people”.

Speaking after the event, Minister Caesar declared: “It was a sincere pleasure and an honor to attend this year’s Bequia Music Fest. This event has no doubt enhanced the calendar of attractions that our destination offers. I encourage the organising committee of the Bequia Music Fest to continue its excellent work and the Ministry of Tourism and Industry and the SVG Tourism Authority recommit ourselves to working with the Music Fest Committee to ensure that the festival continues to rise to new heights”.

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