Monday, February 4, 2013

Caribbean Fever Heats up Barclay Center c Sheron Hamilton-Pearson

Originally scheduled for November 2, 2012, the events of Tropical Storm Sandy meant the much touted and anticipated Caribbean Fever concert featuring a mash-up of Caribbean Soca, reggae, hip hop and dance-hall artists had to be postponed to December 17, 2012. The performances were preceded by the Caribbean Fever Music Festival award presentation to some of Levy's former colleagues - Gil Bailey, Francine Chin, Pat McKay, Bobby Konders & Jabba, D.J. Roy of Road International, Chris the Dub Master from Dub Masters International, Don Bobb, former WLIB presenter, John Melbourne Financial Controller for Inner City Broadcasting, Neville Bush, former Inner City Broadcasting account executive, Edwin Howe of VP Records, Jamaican Irving Burgie, composer of Harry Belafonte's international hits; City Councilman. Jumane Williams, Hip Hop pioneer - Doug E. Fresh – all stalwarts and veterans in the music industry, with some honorees also receiving City Council and NY State Senate citations. Awards were also given to Dr. Velma Skantleberry-White and Dr. Henry Lowe both innovators in their chosen fields of transplant surgery and cancer research.

The warm up acts did well, despite some miss-steps and nervous demeanor at performing before the almost full to capacity venue of the now celebrated state of the art performing and sports arena known as the Barclay Center. T-Micky Kompa artist and son of Haitian musician turned politician Sweet Mickey and his band set the mood for the Caribbean party night to follow. Let's forget about the glitches with the sound and the sometimes lengthy band changes and just concentrate on the performances on the night.

Starting with the Caribbean Queen herself, Ms. Alison Hinds, attired in a cute gold number with thigh high boots, the lady shows no signs of slowing down, except that she now has a group of back-up dancers to perform the gymnastic waist gyrations she has come to be known for. In a nod to her versatility and ability to capture and keep the attention of her audience, she surprised all in attendance when she broke into an Alton Ellis' classic “I'm still in Love with You”, she delighted the crowd even more with her authentic moves to a song from dancehall gully god Mavado.

Old School Hip Hop had the crowd rocking and reliving their younger days and even had a few in the crowd dusting off their old dance moves as Chubb Rock, Slick Rick the Ruler sporting his trademark eye-patch and dripping in iced-out jewels together with Doug E Fresh thrilled the crowd, bringing back memories of the glory days of Hip Hop when - as Doug E Fresh remarked – the pioneers didn't need to say or do anything shocking to get a hit song. The first human beat box, Fresh – still has the skills to take on all comers in this day and age, he definitely garnered the biggest forward for this segment. Surprise guest Little Vicious came out swinging with his “Freak” song with moves to match.

Cultural reggae representatives Morgan Heritage showed why they are such a great representation of roots reggae artists with hits like “Brooklyn & Jamaica” in a nod to their birthplace Bushwick. Other hits followed in a very tight set that had the crowd singing and rocking to “Don't Haffi Dred”, “Do You See Anything to Smile About”, “Down by the River”, “She's Still Loving Me”, “Reggae Bring Back Love” and the new single “The Return” which is the first release from their August 2012 album of the same name. Morgan Heritage proved that despite rumors to the contrary, the band has not split up and in fact is back with a bang. Denroy Morgan, family patriarch also joined the group on stage, jubilant at his recent extraordinarily lenient sentence following his guilty plea on possession of a large quantity of cannabis.

The event host, Dhavid 'Caribbean Fever' Levy in between performances proudly announced a donation of $10,000 to be shared between Canarsi and Far Rockaway two of the main Brooklyn areas affected by Tropical Storm Sandy. All of the performers mentioned the recent unbearable tragedy of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings which took the lives of 20 innocent 6 and 7 year olds, together with 6 of their teachers and administrators. Perhaps the most poignant and tear-jerking moment of the show was Peetah of Morgan Heritage's call for the house lights to be dimmed to illuminate the twinkling of thousands of cellphones in the auditorium. Mr. Vegas topped his set with a beautiful rendition of Whitney Houston's “I look to you” (reminding all in attendance of his great singing voice) before going into “I am Blessed”, exiting the stage after a brief performance of his summer blockbuster 'Bruk it Dung”. Cham, absent from New York stages for a while also turned in a good performance with his smooth and sexy dance moves, one highlight being his surprise guest – none other than bad girl of rap – Foxy Brown! He closed his set with a collaboration with 'O' his wife currently riding the charts extolling the virtues of her good pudenda! Premier sound system out of Japan, Mighty Crown filled in nicely in between sets and also had a chance in the spotlight to show their prowess and celebration of their love of Jamaican dancehall music.

The tension continued to build the whole night, in anticipation of the final act, Machel Montana HD, who delivered his usual fiery performance, which left the sated audience looking forward to their attendance in Trinidad & Tobago for carnival in February 2013. Caribbean Fever brought together Caribbean folks who for one night at least forgot their differences and came together as One.