On the morning of Saturday October 26th, I slept in a little later than usual. There were two important items on my agenda that day: 1. go to the Roseau where a Creole ‘Market Day with a Difference’ was being celebrated; and then later, 2. THE BIG EVENT: attend part of the second night of the 17th annual WORLD CREOLE MUSIC FESTIVAL (WCMF)!
It’s true that I am a faithful market supporter: I always purchase organic produce from Karen and Roy at Roots Farm
and then I buy other locally grown products from my favourite
There was definitely a festive feel in the bustling market place that Saturday. Creole-African-style drummers entertained the shoppers and dignitaries casually moved around the decorated stalls greeting both the buyers and the sellers. I have always been impressed with the warmth and friendliness of people in Dominica, and this day was no different.
My pleasant encounters with my favourite friendly vendors, as well as the gracious dignitaries were wonderful warm-ups to the exciting performances I would experience that evening.
After a quiet afternoon, I headed to Roseau in advance of the 8:30 p.m. start time to familiarize with stage area in the Windsor Park Sports Stadium and receive any last-minute instructions from the Media Coordinator of the WCMF, Ayodele Andrew. It was fortunate that I arrived when things were still relatively quiet, as she noticed that my Press Pass did not have access to the photographers’ ‘pit’ below the front of the stage. She knew that I would need photos for this blog, so Ayodele immediately took me over to the security guard in that section to introduce me so that I could enter the ‘pit’ when it was not overcrowded with professional photographers. I remain extremely grateful for her help, as I was able to capture some poses of the performers that I will always cherish. I will be sharing some of them with you here.
“Gwen, you are always here every year!” exclaimed Tim, a Canadian-Dominican videographer with Link InternationalProductions who was working backstage. Some of you who are familiar with the WCMF will be wondering why I have not mentioned the Friday night show.I explained to Tim that as an advanced member of the ’50+ club’, I decided that it would be prudent to choose activities and events that were of very special interest to me. This year, I wished to watch the performances of young Dominican ‘rising stars’ and see Fitzroy Williams, this year’s WCMF Icon in action. Of course, I wanted to take in plenty of authentic Creole music and a bit of ‘Latin’ too! More about that in the Sunday night review, to follow this one. I understand that the Friday night show was fabulous. You can check out some great pics by clicking Images Dominica, professional photographers and friends of mine!
After opening announcements and Dominica’s national anthem, the Signal Band, an up-and-coming group with a taste for the bouyon beat got the show on the road. The crowd was constantly drifting into the stadium and many excited patrons made their way to the area closest to the stage to take in the energy emanating from these young men.
I positioned myself front and centre of the stage in the photographers’ pit, as there was still enough room for those assembled to
move around. I am glad I remained in my spot, because I was completely enthralled with the drumming and dancing of the Karina Cultural Group. These indigenous Kalinago people completely captivated me with their traditional presentation. I admired the focus and discipline of preserving their ancient tribal dances. I reminded myself to revisit Kalinago Barana Aute (Carib Model Village by the Sea) very soon to re-acquaint with their culture and traditions.
carnival-like atmosphere as the Africulture Stiltwalkers and the Gutter Village Lapo-Kabwit (goat-skin drummers) band were moving around the Food Court. This reminded me that Carnival season was not so far away! In Dominica, there is always something to celebrate…
I could hear that the next artiste had started to sing so I threaded my way through the thousands of enthusiastic people were ready to take in a little (or a lot!) of Zouk. This particular type of Creole music originated in the French West Indies and its development is largely credited to Kassav, a band that would be performing late on Sunday evening (I mean, early Monday morning!) Like other Creole genres, it is a fusion of various styles, such as compas, but with lots of percussion that gives it such as jumpy beat. There were hundreds of French Antilleans in “the house” and I can assure you that they were in seventh heaven, along with their Dominican brothers and sisters when the
Zouk All-Stars entertained them with plenty of old-favourites.
The crowd roared with pleasure when they paid tribute to a late-great Zouk musician, Patrick St. Eloi and then honoured deceased Dominican Music Icon, Jeff-Jo.
It was timely that one of Jeff Jo’s longtime colleagues and friends was also receiving a big tribute on this particular night. Fitzroy Williams, who also happened to be celebrating his birthday was acknowledged by government officials and the thousands of supporters in the Stadium as this year’s WCMF Icon. He is credited with helping to create the cadence-lypso style of Creole music and for promoting it by playing it with various bands, including the famous Exile One all over the world for more than 45 years!
Then keyboardist and composer Fitzroy treated us with a huge serving of the music for which is known best everywhere. With back-up from the Cadence All Stars (comprised of members of the popular Fanatik Band) and some other “friends”, the audience reveled, reminisced and regarded the stage with rapt attention.
Again, I was lucky to be right in front of all the action and I truly loved this huge portion of Dominican music offered by a mix of the Nature Island’s finest artistes.
By the time Fitzroy and his colleagues had completed their sensational set, it was after 2 a.m. Time for Gwendominica to get a little rest – as Sunday night promised to be as memorable as the music I had experienced here. As I slowly walked out of the Stadium, I had to dodge through a huge mass of humanity. The Nigerian group Bracket was on the stage and there was no doubt that they were a great hit. I was pleased to part with their African-inspired rhythms in my head as I headed off to bed – much earlier than the rest!
*Many thanks to the Dominica Festivals Committee for their support and assistance! Special gratitude is extended to Event Director Natalie Clark for reviewing the draft of this post. Good vibes!
** For more information about other bands and artistes who performed over the three nights, please consult the World Creole Music Festival 2013 website here.