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Contents

CaribbeanBeat

No. 124 November/December 2013

An MEP publication
ISSN 1680–6158

76

52
EMBARK
19 Datebook
Even...
Cover Washington Redskins
wide receiver Pierre Garçon
is proud of his Haitian roots
— and brings Caribbean
flair to a dist...
From Team Caribbean Airlines

Visiting relatives in London? Let Caribbean
Airlines fly you there!

W

elcome aboard the be...
Cal Events

Karlene Thompson (left), Flight Attendant, hands over the
Caribbean Airlines–sponsored door prize

Thanks from...
datebook

jo crebbin/shutterstock.com

Your guide to Caribbean events in November and December — from seasonal
festivals t...
datebook
ST VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES

Nine mornings of carolling contests, competitions
for the best illuminated communi...
datebook

nicholas laughlin

Hosay
When: 11 to 17 November
Where: St James and Cedros
What: Shia Muslims parade
tadjahs (r...
datebook
MONTSERRAT

New Zealand
NEW ZEALAND

Montserrat Christmas Festival
When: 14 December to 1 January
Where: Festival...
word of mouth

Darren Cheewah

Dispatches from our correspondents around the Caribbean and further afield

City of lights
...
word of mouth

The art of
Ocean Drive
Marta Fernandez Campa previews Miami
Art Basel, the biggest contemporary art event
a...
word of mouth

The view from
the Roost
t’s called the Roost. Otherwise known
as the nosebleed seats: those perched
at the ...
the look

In the
bag
Jamaican designer Kesi Gibson of
Kyu Mélange creates handbags
inspired by different cultures
Photogra...
Bookshelf
Jamaica in Black and White: Photography in Jamaica, c 1845–1920,
by David Boxer and Edward Lucie-Smith (Macmilla...
playlist
Creole Soul Etienne Charles

Trinidad Calypso 1939–1959 Various artists
Calypso conquered the world after Harry B...
cookup

The taste
of home

Far away from her native
Dominican Republic,
Clara Gonzalez decides
to recreate a traditional
C...
Pan de batata (sweet potato pudding)
Pan de batata is a delicious dessert with a very exotic and spicy
taste. The aroma of...
closeup

Who are the Caribbean’s best football players?
No, the other football: not soccer, but American
football, whose h...
“The reality is, football is not a Caribbean
sport,” Ramon Harewood explains.
“You’re not born with a helmet and
shoulder ...
Trevardo Williams hasn’t been
back to Jamaica since migrating
to the US, but he says, “I’m
always going to be a Jamaican a...
snapshot

Making
her claim
The daughter of an Afro-Chinese Jamaican
father and a white British mother, writer
Hannah Lowe ...
shopkeeper and his black servant, he
believed that his own father had “bought”
him from his mother to use as a lackey in
t...
Nadia Huggins

backstory

When artist John Cox decided to turn a
small family cottage in Nassau into a modest
studio and g...
finally gave contemporary and experimental artwork a platform in
the Bahamas. Cox was surprised that people sought out the...
ARICO

F
SO C

O
RIC M

EARS

R
CA IC

With 117 branches, and more than 6,000
employees serving more than 1 million
client...
Own words

“You have
to give them
a good time
every night”
Trinidadian DJ Christopher Leacock, a.k.a
the Jillionaire, fron...
Riddem  rhyme

Christmas
skanking
“Jingle Bells”? “Deck the Halls”?
Ubiquitous on the radio come
October, the usual Yuleti...
62	

WWW.CARIBBEAN-BEAT.COM

aRRIVE

“Christmas Day”, and the Maytals’ “Merr y
Christmas”. The latter include a bunch of t...
ESCAPE

Green days
by the river
In the mouth of the mighty Amazon River is an
island more than three times the size of Jam...
Caribbean Beat Magazine Issue 124: November/December 2013
Caribbean Beat Magazine Issue 124: November/December 2013
Caribbean Beat Magazine Issue 124: November/December 2013
Caribbean Beat Magazine Issue 124: November/December 2013
Caribbean Beat Magazine Issue 124: November/December 2013
Caribbean Beat Magazine Issue 124: November/December 2013
Caribbean Beat Magazine Issue 124: November/December 2013
Caribbean Beat Magazine Issue 124: November/December 2013
Caribbean Beat Magazine Issue 124: November/December 2013
Caribbean Beat Magazine Issue 124: November/December 2013
Caribbean Beat Magazine Issue 124: November/December 2013
Caribbean Beat Magazine Issue 124: November/December 2013
Caribbean Beat Magazine Issue 124: November/December 2013
Caribbean Beat Magazine Issue 124: November/December 2013
Caribbean Beat Magazine Issue 124: November/December 2013
Caribbean Beat Magazine Issue 124: November/December 2013
Caribbean Beat Magazine Issue 124: November/December 2013
Caribbean Beat Magazine Issue 124: November/December 2013
Caribbean Beat Magazine Issue 124: November/December 2013
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Caribbean Beat Magazine Issue 124: November/December 2013

  1. 1. Proudly part of the world’s most awarded rum range 1824 Winner of over 50 international awards since 2005 Perfection E N J OY R E S P O N S I B LY Is not a goal... it’s a result crafted to perfection
  2. 2. please enjoy responsibly Best Rums in the the World! ... Explore the award-winning taste of El Dorado Rums www.theeldoradorum.com
  3. 3. Amazing! Shop online for the furniture, appliances and electronics you need for your home, from anywhere at anytime with just a few clicks. I just furnished my living room without getting out of bed.
  4. 4. M agnificent Magdalena grand Combine Tobago’s rich adventure and Magdalena’s great value for a vacation of a lifetime. 8 Phone: 868-660-8500 Fax: 868-660-8503 The resort offers 178 deluxe rooms, plus 22 one and two bedroom suites with private hot tubs, all with panoramic views of the ocean from large balconies and terraces. Enjoy sunning on fabulous decks surrounding 3 swimming pools while kids have their own club and play area. Activities include an 18-hole PGA designed golf course, tennis, dive center, fitness center, spa services and a variety of indoor and outdoor dining venues. There is a lot to see and do in Tobago! Visit the “True Caribbean”. E-Mail: info@MagdalenaGrand.com www .M agdalena g rand . coM
  5. 5. Contents CaribbeanBeat No. 124 November/December 2013 An MEP publication ISSN 1680–6158 76 52 EMBARK 19 Datebook Events around the Caribbean in November and December 26 Word of Mouth Discover Trinidad’s Divali Nagar, Miami’s international art fair, and Jamaica’s annual pantomime 32 The Look Jamaican designer Kesi Gibson draws on many influences to create her Kyu Mélange handbags 34 Bookshelf This month’s reading picks 36 Playlist Recent tunes to get your feet tapping 39 Cookup what about football? Not soccer — American football. Debbie Jacob talks to four young players with roots in Haiti, Barbados, and Jamaica — proud of their island roots, and changing the face of the NFL with their indelible Caribbean spirit. Meet Pierre Garçon, Ramon Harewood, Patrick Chung, and Trevardo Williams 48 snapshot making her claim In her debut book Chick, poet Hannah Lowe — born in the UK to an Afro-Jamaican father and white British mother — comes to terms with family history. She talks to Melissa Richards about finding her voice and identity in her poems 52 backstory the popop spirit In the Dominican Republic, Christmas is a time for feasting. But how do you recreate the taste of home when you’re far away? Clara Gonzalez gets creative Founded by artist John Cox in 1999, Nassau’s Popopstudios International Centre for the Visual Arts has become an international art contender while staying true to its family spirit. Sonia Farmer finds out how IMMERSE 58 Own Words the taste of home 42 closeup “you have to give them a good time every night” Caribbean athletes are known for cricket and track and field, but Trinidadian DJ Christopher Leacock, a.k.a. the Jillionaire, on recording off the radio, starting his first sound from island to end zone 10 WWW.CARIBBEAN-BEAT.COM 64 system, and the twist of fate that led him to the international DJ project Major Lazer — as told to Tracy Assing 61 Riddem and Rhyme Christmas skanking Garry Steckles isn’t a fan of traditional Yuletide music, “classics” like “White Christmas”. Luckily, Caribbean musicians have created their own genre of seasonal tunes, with a real reggae or calypso vibe ARRIVE 64 escapes green days by the river Marajó Island, in the mouth of the mighty Amazon River, is more than three times the size of Jamaica, and little known outside Brazil. Nicholas Laughlin discovers it’s not exactly the middle of nowhere, but Marajó is as good a place as any to be temporarily cut off from the rest of the world 70 round trip Float away In the Caribbean region, our lives our shaped by proximity to water — whether the expanse of the sea that surrounds our islands, or the mighty rivers that drain the South American mainland. Water can be a boundary, a highway, and also a playground — as in these five adventures afloat 76 offtrack Media & Editorial Projects Ltd, 6 Prospect Avenue, Maraval, Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago Tel: (868) 622 3821/5813/6138 Fax: (868) 628 0639 E-mail: info@meppublishers.com Website: www.meppublishers.com Editor Nicholas Laughlin General manager Halcyon Salazar Online marketing Caroline Taylor Design artists Kevon Webster Bridget van Dongen Sales Marketing Manager Trinidad Tobago Denise Chin T: (868) 683 0832, 622 3821 F: (868) 628 0639 E: dchin@meppublishers.com Sales Marketing Representative Caribbean International Karen Washington T: (868) 767 4878, 622 3821 F: (868) 628 0639 E: kwashington@meppublishers.com fifty shades of blue Just a hundred miles north of Caracas, the archipelago of Los Roques is the kind of island paradise that should only exist in the imaginations of guidebook writers. Except its white sand cays and azure waters are the real deal. Laura Montanari finds Los Roques is not too good to be true Follow us: Scan this QR code with your smartphone to visit our website www.facebook/caribbeanbeat wwww.meppublishers.com ENGAGE 84 green what lies beneath Dominica, the Antilles’ youngest island, is shaped by awesome volcanic forces beneath its surface — the key to an ambitious and sometimes controversial new geothermal energy project, as Nazma Muller reports 86 On this day palace of dreams Two hundred years ago, Haiti’s selfproclaimed king Henri Christophe completed his grand palace of Sans Souci. It was a sumptuous symbol of power, James Ferguson explains — but not for long www.twitter.com/meppublishers www.caribbean-beat.com Printed by Solo Printing Inc., Miami, Florida This is your personal, take-home copy of Caribbean Beat, free to all passengers on Caribbean Airlines Caribbean Beat is published six times a year for Caribbean Airlines by Media Editorial Projects Ltd. It is also available on subscription. Copyright © Caribbean Airlines 2013. All rights reserved. No part of this magazine may be reproduced in any form whatsoever without the written permission of the publisher. Website: www.caribbean-airlines.com 96 parting shot End the year with a bang at Paramaribo’s Owru Yari celebrations The Caribbean Airlines logo shows a hummingbird in flight. Native to the Caribbean, the hummingbird represents flight, travel, vibrancy, and colour. It encompasses the spirit of both the region and Caribbean Airlines. WWW.CARIBBEAN-AIRLINES.COM 11
  6. 6. Cover Washington Redskins wide receiver Pierre Garçon is proud of his Haitian roots — and brings Caribbean flair to a distinctly American game Photo Portrait by Jim Darling, background by Olga Bogatyrenko/ Shutterstock.com, digital imaging by MEP This issue’s contributors include: Jamaican Tanya Batson-Savage (“The view from the Roost”, page 30) is the author of Pumpkin Belly and Other Stories. Her career has run the gamut of teaching, cultural criticism, journalism, advertising, and creative writing. Find more of her writing at www.thebitterbean.wordpress.com and www.susumba.com. Angelo Bissessarsingh (“City of lights”, page 26) is a historian from Siparia, Trinidad. He is the founder of the Virtual Museum of Trinidad and Tobago heritage resource, and writes a column titled “Back in Time” for the Trinidad Guardian. Bahamian Sonia Farmer (“The Popop spirit”, page 52) is the founder of Poinciana Paper Press, a small fine press that produces hand-bound limited-edition chapbooks of Caribbean writing, based in Nassau. Her poems won the 2011 Small Axe Literary Competition, and have appeared in various publications. She holds a BFA in Writing from the Pratt Institute.  Debbie Jacob (“From island to end zone”, page 42) is a journalist and author of eight books. She is the head librarian at the International School of Port of Spain, Trinidad. Born in Venezuela, Laura Montanari (“Fifty shades of blue”, page 76) has lived in Spain, Italy, and Anguilla. She has written for Sint Maarten’s Daily Herald and the online young adult literary magazine pezlinterna.com. A passionate traveller in love with the Caribbean, she currently resides in London.  Melissa Richards (“Making her claim”, page 48) was born in Trinidad and now lives in London. She is a former journalist and has worked in publishing in both London and New York. 12 WWW.CARIBBEAN-BEAT.COM WWW.CARIBBEAN-AIRLINES.COM 13
  7. 7. From Team Caribbean Airlines Visiting relatives in London? Let Caribbean Airlines fly you there! W elcome aboard the best airline in the Caribbean! It’s that time of year when families and friends come together to share in the joy and festivity of the yuletide season, and at Caribbean Airlines, there is an air of excitement as our family ensures that your travel experience is filled with merriment. Whatever your plans this season, let us take you to the destination that you call home. Whether you’re looking forward to pastelles and parang in Trinidad, baked stuffed turkey and ginger beer in Grenada, or even Christmas carols and ice skating in London, we can take you there. Your checked baggage is free, the meals are on us, and we may even have some of your favourite seasonal movies in our in-flight entertainment presentation. It is a very busy season, and we hope you also take advantage of our cargo services to ship all your goodies this season. From perishables to valuables, we take care to have your belongings delivered on time and with utmost care. If this is your first time travelling with us, it is our pleasure to boast that we are officially the Leading Caribbean Airline. Yes! World Travel Awards has named us Leading 14 WWW.CARIBBEAN-BEAT.COM Caribbean Airline for 2013. That’s the fourth year in a row. And if you are one of our special loyal Caribbean Airlines travellers, we’re glad to see you on board again. It’s a great honour to have you on board today, and the fact that you chose us as your carrier reflects the hard work and dedication of our thousand-plus staff at our twenty stations system-wide. It has certainly been a non-stop year so far, and in that vein, we have recently started even more non-stop services on our most popular routes, like Toronto/Guyana and New York/Port of Spain. Our network connection is seamless and hassle-free. The response from our customers has been very encouraging, and reminds us of the loyalty we have earned on these key routes by offering reliable professional service and all-inclusive value. Caribbean Airlines has always linked the Caribbean and its peoples from across the globe, and we continue to do so. With our online reservations, booking, and check-in facilities, plus our great frequent flyer miles programme, Club Caribbean benefits, and the most reliable air cargo services, we are truly the Leading Caribbean Airline! In addition, the best pisaphotography/shutterstock.com The best airline in the Caribbean things in life are duty free. Visit our Duty Free Shop at Piarco International Airport, Trinidad, where we stock the best brands of liquor, perfume, and chocolates. Special purchases for the special people in your life. Our extensive route map reads like a GPS locator for the most successful communities of the Caribbean diaspora. London, New York, Miami, Toronto: some of the world’s most vibrant and ethnically diverse cities, where food, fashion, and music have exploded through the collaboration with Caribbean peoples and our unique energies, flavours, and natural bubbling warmth. The Caribbean community has reached out to the world through us, and we connect them all. We invite you to sit back, enjoy reading Caribbean Beat and watching our customised in-flight video magazine Caribbean Essence — or relax and start dreaming of your next flight on the Leading Caribbean Airline. We look forward to showing you why we keep winning accolades. Season’s greetings from our family to yours. Team Caribbean
  8. 8. Cal Events Karlene Thompson (left), Flight Attendant, hands over the Caribbean Airlines–sponsored door prize Thanks from Kiwanis Club in Jamaica Alicia Cabrera, Senior Marketing Manager, Caribbean Airlines, Brandon Moore, Inflight Purser, and Delia Bennett, Sales Executive, Jamaica, along with Chris Frost, Vice President, World Travel Awards. Caribbean Airlines wins Leading Caribbean Airline award fourth time in a row For the fourth year in a row, Caribbean Airlines has been named the “Caribbean’s Leading Airline” at the annual World Travel Awards function held in September at Sandals Grande Antigua Resort Spa. Accepting the award on behalf of the airline, Alicia Cabrera, Senior Marketing Manager at Caribbean Airlines, said, “This fourth win really cements our position as the region’s premier carrier. That the category is judged based on travel industry professionals’ voting makes it even more prestigious, as our customers and travel agent partners clearly recognise the tremendous effort put forth by the staff to make each flight special.” Caribbean Airlines Invaders live in concert Caribbean Airlines Invaders recently held “Versatility” The Concert at NAPA, Port of Spain, featuring acts such as former National Calypso Queen Karen Eccles, soca star Machel Montano, and young guitarist Jacob Tanker. Led by composer and arranger Arddin Herbert, the steel orchestra performed a wide repertoire to the delight of the captivated audience. We salute Caribbean Airlines Invaders Steel Orchestra on an excellent presentation. 16 WWW.CARIBBEAN-AIRLINES.COM Caribbean Airlines Jamaica recently lent its support to the Kiwanis Club of Mona for their Anniversary Wine and Cheese Cocktail event held at the Vice Chancellery at the University of the West Indies, Mona campus. The club has successfully undertaken a number of major charitable projects which have had significant impact in the communities served in the Liguanea, August Town, Standpipe, Mona, Gordon Town, Barbican, Tavern, and surrounding areas. CPL teams travel seamlessly thanks to Caribbean Airlines services Kudos extended to all Caribbean Airlines teams who worked assiduously, ensuring our Caribbean cricketers were able to tour during the summer peak for the Caribbean Premier League games.
  9. 9. datebook jo crebbin/shutterstock.com Your guide to Caribbean events in November and December — from seasonal festivals to a cricket tour The brilliant colours of Bahamas Junkanoo B:276 mm S:260 mm T:276 mm We’re honoured to be one of the most highly awarded banks in the Caribbean. BAHAMAS Feel the rush But it’s our customers that deserve all the credit. At Scotiabank, we believe in serving the needs of our customers first. So much so, we were recently awarded Global Bank of the Year, Best Emerging Markets Bank and Best Internet Bank, to name a few. We’d like to thank all of our employees who have made these awards possible. And though the awards are nice, it’s really the success of our customers that we care about the most. Don’t miss . . . Trinidad’s Divali Nagar, page 26 To find out more, start a conversation with us today. Visit a Scotiabank branch or go to scotiabank.com TM Trademark of the Bank of Nova Scotia, used under license (where applicable). Discover what’s possible Miami’s international art fair, page 28 Jamaica’s annual pantomime, page 30 The Bahamas comes alive at year-end with the annual Junkanoo masquerade, as costumed dance troupes “rush” through the streets, performing their complicated routines to the sounds of cowbells, goatskin drums, whistles, and horns. Junkanoo festivities typically begin in the wee hours of the morning, and end somewhere around 9 am. The masqueraders’ elaborate and brightly coloured costumes are made from some combination of crêpe paper, fabric, cardboard, and wood, all in an attempt to capture the title of best Junkanoo group. While Bay Street in Nassau is said to be the best place to experience everything firsthand, Junkanoo parades also take place in Grand Bahama Island, Bimini, the Exumas, and the Abacos. When: 26 December and 1 January Where: Nassau and other venues around the Bahamas For more info: visit the Bahamas Tourist Board at www.bahamas.com WWW.CARIBBEAN-AIRLINES.COM 19
  10. 10. datebook ST VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES Nine mornings of carolling contests, competitions for the best illuminated communities and gardens, and early morning (4 am!) sea baths are just some of the things you can look forward to as St Vincent and the Grenadines celebrate their annual Nine Mornings Festival. And this year promises to be epic, as 2013 marks one hundred years of this unique tradition. A hundred-day countdown started on 7 September, there will be a special lighted street parade featuring traditional music, characters, and flambeau on 1 December, and the actual festival starts a couple of weeks later. With almost fifty-two communities involved across the islands, you can participate in something new each day — a quadrille, ring games, drama performances — and just revel in Christmas, Caribbean-style. Where: venues around St Vincent and the Grenadines When: 16 to 24 December For more info: call +784 451 2180 or visit the Nine Mornings Festival page on Facebook svg nine mornings committee Go a-carolling TRINIDAD NGC Bocas Lit Fest South Central When: 16 and 17 November Where: venues in San Fernando and Chaguanas What: TT’s literature festival puts on a special weekend-long programme of authors’ readings, performances, and workshops in the unofficial capitals of south and central Trinidad For more info: visit www.bocaslitfest.com We Offer Restaurant | Bar Grill | Gym | Pool | Conference | Free Wifi Experience international quality and service with a local flair at Guyana’s premier boutique hotel. Conveniently located minutes away from our capital city, Georgetown, Grand Coastal Hotel is the place to stay when travelling for business or pleasure. 1 2 Area M Plantation Le Ressouvenir, East Coast Demerara Guyana, South America Tel: 592-220-1091 Fax: 592-220-1498 www.grandcoastal.com reservations@grandcoastal.com /grandcoastal www.tdc.co.tt 20 WWW.CARIBBEAN-BEAT.COM Call: 1-868-675-7034 or visit our website: www.gotrinidadandtobago.com/trinidad/meetings • email: conventionbureau@tdc.co.tt
  11. 11. datebook nicholas laughlin Hosay When: 11 to 17 November Where: St James and Cedros What: Shia Muslims parade tadjahs (replica mausoleums) through the communities of St James and Cedros to commemorate the assassination of the Prophet Mohammed’s two grandsons. It starts with Flag Night (11 November) and ends on Teejah Day (17 November), when the tadjahs are destroyed in the sea. For more info: visit www.nalis. gov.tt/Research/SubjectGuide/ Hosay/tabid/565/Default.aspx? 22 WWW.CARIBBEAN-BEAT.COM Dancing the red moon at Hosay commemorations in St James BARBADOS NORTHERN LEEWARDS Embrace the stage In past years, the Caribbean Secondary Schools’ Drama Festival has been held in Antigua, Guyana, and Jamaica. Students from those three countries, along with peers from Anguilla, Bermuda, and Trinidad and Tobago, will all participate in the 2013 festival — the seventh one since it was founded — which takes place in Barbados this December. Apart from a series of plays by visiting delegations, says festival co-founder Icil Phillips, the programme will include “cultural exchanges with local secondary schools, a teacher’s workshop on assessing the performing arts, the annual general meeting of the festival, a workshop on tuk [Barbados’s indigenous musical genre] and Landship, and a youth forum that discusses the state of theatre in the CSME.” When: 8 to 15 December Where: Queen’s Park Steel Shed, Bridgetown For more info: email the Barbados Association of Drama Educators at drama.educators.bb@gmail.com, or call +246 238 5625 courtesy Bob Grieser and Jaqueline van de Weijer TRINIDAD Golden Rock Regatta When: 11 to 18 November Where: St Martin, St Barths, St Kitts, St Eustatius What: An annual event, the regatta includes seven races between the four islands. The weeklong programme will kick off with a party in Philipsburg, and end with a prize-giving dinner at Captain Olivers Restaurant in St Martin. For more info: email regatta chairman Juul Hermsen at juul@ goldenrockregatta.com, or call +31 40 2428392 WWW.CARIBBEAN-AIRLINES.COM 23
  12. 12. datebook MONTSERRAT New Zealand NEW ZEALAND Montserrat Christmas Festival When: 14 December to 1 January Where: Festival City, Little Bay Playing Field What: Calypso competitions, the Festival Queen competition, costumed troupes, choral singing, a performing arts festival, and fetes are just some of the things that make up this two-week extravaganza, as Montserrat celebrates everything that makes this island paradise unique. For more info: email culture@gov.ms, call +664 491 8555, or check out the Montserrat Annual Festival page on Facebook The islands of New Zealand are on the other side of the world, but come December, Caribbean eyes will be looking that way, as the West Indies cricket team heads off on a five-week tour. The Windies will play against New Zealand in three Tests, five one-day internationals, and two T20 matches from December 3 to January 15, 2014. The tour will take the team through some of New Zealand’s top holiday spots over the Christmas holidays, so cricket fans will get a chance not only to cheer their favourite team, but also to experience the land of Lord of the Rings fame at its best. And in between Christmas preparations back home in the Caribbean, true believers will be following the series avidly on television, radio, and online. courtesy WICB Media/www.windiescricket.com courtesy AZM Services Incde Weijer Keep score West Indies vs New Zealand, 2013–2014 tour schedule GRENADA courtesy wayne fenton Caribbean Rum and Beer Festival When: 22 to 23 November Where: Grand Anse What: For the second year in a row, Grenada will host the festival, with its taste contest, cocktail wars, culinary displays, and golf tournament. And that’s just a drop in a barrel, as connoisseurs sample some of the best rum and beer products in the world. For more info: visit www.rumandbeerfestival.com 3 to 7 December 11 to 15 December 19 to 23 December 26 December 29 December 1 January 4 January 8 January 11 January 15 January 1st Test 2nd Test 3rd Test 1st ODI 2nd ODI 3rd ODI 4th ODI 5th ODI 1st T20I 2nd T20I University Oval, Dunedin Hawkins Basin Reserve, Wellington Seddon Park, Hamilton Eden Park, Auckland McLean Park, Napier Queenstown Events Centre, Queenstown Saxton Oval, Nelson Seddon Park, Hamilton Eden Park, Auckland Westpac Stadium, Wellington Stories by Mirissa De Four Destination Hyatt Regency Trinidad. With a prime location in the heart of downtown Port of Spain, Hyatt Regency Trinidad is the premiere hotel for any type of getaway. Spacious suites offer spectacular gulf views, flat-screen televisions and our signature Hyatt Grand Bed, while our 9,000 square-foot locally inspired spa and rooftop infinity pool overlooking the gulf provide a luxurious retreat. World-class cuisine and deluxe facilities designed to accommodate weddings, events and parties of all sizes ensure guests will get the most out of their stay. For reservations, call 868 623 2222 or visit trinidad.hyatt.com. HYATT REGENCY TRINIDAD 1 Wrghtson Road, Port of Spain 868 623 2222 The trademarks HYATT, and related marks are trademarks of Hyatt Hotels Corporation. © 2013 Hyatt Hotels Corporation. All rights reserved. 24 WWW.CARIBBEAN-BEAT.COM WWW.CARIBBEAN-AIRLINES.COM 25
  13. 13. word of mouth Darren Cheewah Dispatches from our correspondents around the Caribbean and further afield City of lights Angelo Bissessarsingh recounts the sights and sounds of Trinidad’s Divali Nagar, an annual grand fair in the weeks before the Hindu festival of lights E very child in Trinidad and Tobago grows up with a rudimentary knowledge of the religion, culture, and customs of her peers, which is probably why this nation can serve as a model for social tolerance. We all know about Divali, the Hindu festival of lights, which ostensibly commemorates the return of Rama, the hero of the Ramayan epic, to Ayodha after his long exile. The goddess Lakshmi is also paid homage, in the hope that she bestows prosperity on her adherents. In Trinidad, however, Divali — which falls this year on 2 November — has transcended its ethnic and religious roots to become a national festival that reaches out to the wider Indo- and non-Indo-Trindiadian community. And long before the thunder of bursting bamboo echoes through the villages, and in anticipation of the night when tens of thousands of tiny oil-lamps called deyas transform the darkness into a palette of splendour, there is the Divali Nagar. 26 WWW.CARIBBEAN-BEAT.COM The Nagar is best described as a grand fair centred around Divali that blends the ancient civilisation of India with the heady pulse and tempo of life that make Trinis world-famous. Located just east of Chaguanas, the bustling unofficial capital of central Trinidad, the expansive space that is transformed annually into the gaudy extravaganza was designated for this purpose in 1986, after the original location in a shopping mall car-park proved inadequate. From day one, the Nagar, which opens a few weeks before the Divali holiday, proved to be a wild success, with hundreds of vendors flocking to the area. It has since been upgraded to include a pavilion, an air-conditioned indoor hall, a magnificent statue, and landscaped grounds. An old locomotive and bogie cart — silent reminders of the island’s sugar industry (the original impetus for labour from India in 1845) — stands to the rear of the compound. The National Council for Indian Culture is the body that oversees the Nagar, and ensures that the fair opens with a dramatic event that draws a wide spectrum of people from every walk of life, from government ministers to the burgesses of Chaguanas. To the first-time visitor, the Nagar experience assaults the senses. The aroma of pholourie, aloo pies, and saheenas frying in coconut oil clashes with the pungent curries being prepared just a few feet away. The riot of colour is almost psychedelic, as elegant silk saris, heavy with embroidery, mingle with delicate filigree jewellery crafted locally or imported from India. At all times, the fine sounds of classical Indian music can be heard, occasionally broken into by more invigorating Indo-Caribbean beats. It’s an addictive experience, as evidenced by the thousands of cars and buses which converge every day while the festival is in session — full of visitors, all with the expectation of imbibing the essence of the Divali Nagar.
  14. 14. word of mouth The art of Ocean Drive Marta Fernandez Campa previews Miami Art Basel, the biggest contemporary art event around the Caribbean, and recalls some hits from recent editions of the fair 28 WWW.CARIBBEAN-BEAT.COM kicked off during the fair. It featured Julien’s installation videos Baltimore, Vagabondia, and Paradise Omeros, a combination of installation and photography paying homage to Derek Walcott’s Omeros and St Lucia, home of Julien’s parents. These works showed a unique sensibility in their narrative rhythm, which drew you towards their “silent” stories. courtesy ebony g. patterson/monique meloche gallery A rt Basel Miami Beach — also known as Miami Art Week — is a cultural experience true to its host city: eclectic and heterogeneous. With the main fair (running this year from 5 to 8 December) and over twenty satellite events spread across the city, art lovers can easily feel overwhelmed. Dozens of international galleries exhibit contemporary artwork by established and emerging artists, and to fully appreciate the sheer number of shows, openings, and other events happening simultaneously over the four days, you need your diary at hand and your walking shoes on. Admittedly, this look may clash with the trendy attire of many art-fair–goers, but being selective definitely helps. Considering Miami’s proximity to the region, it’s not surprising that Caribbean artists turn up at the fair. Jamaican Ebony G. Patterson was featured by Chicagobased gallery Monique Meloche in 2012, in Untitled, a new satellite fair curated by Omar Lopez-Chaboud. Untitled grouped artwork by forty galleries in a tent on the beach opposite Ocean Drive. Patterson’s mixed media drawings ref lected the artist’s distinctive aesthetics and focus on portraiture of Jamaican male youth and dancehall culture. Her work will once again be a focal point of Monique Meloche’s 2013 Untitled presentation, with a series of stunning gold-leaf paintings. Miami’s art museums also introduce special exhibitions during Art Basel. I will always remember Isaac Julien’s 2010 exhibition at the Bass Museum of Art, which Although most of the action is centered on South Beach, there’s a lot more to be seen around Miami’s Design District or Wynwood, whose booming art scene includes a series of amazing graffiti murals. And the Little Haiti Cultural Centre is a key location to appreciate the work of Latin American and Caribbean ar tists. Here, Miami-based Haitian artist Edouard Duval-Carrié has curated various versions of his Global Caribbean project. During Miami Art Basel 2011, this featured artwork by Cuban artist José Bedia, Dominican artist José GarciaCordero, and Duval-Carrié’s own work. The cosmological and spiritual visions of Bedia’s large paintings were set in conversation with Garcia-Cordero’s dark paintings of social critique and DuvalCarrié’s mythological focus. The opening of the show was accompanied by a brief preview of a Haitian opera based on the revolutionary hero Makendal. At this year’s Art Basel Miami Beach, apart from Ebony G. Patterson’s gold-leaf pieces, Caribbean art lovers can seek out new works by Trinidadian Christopher Cozier, who will be artist in residence at Untitled Lightz I (2013, mixed media on paper, 8.5 x 6.75 feet), by Ebony G. Patterson The exhibition also premiered Julien’s Ten Thousand Waves in the United States. This audiovisual installation of nine massive screens tells stories of China’s past and present, while remembering the twenty-three Chinese immigrant cocklepickers who died at Morecambe Bay in England in 2004, trapped by the high tide. I was completely taken aback by this installation, its poetic storytelling and audio-visual lyricism. the trendy Betsy Hotel in South Beach, creating a site-specific lightbox installation. And the Pérez Art Museum Miami will open its elegant new building with a series of exhibitions and projects including Guyanese-British artist Hew Locke’s For Those in Peril on the Sea, an installation of dozens of replica boats and ships suspended in one of PAMM’s new project spaces. I only wish I still lived in Miami so I could see them live!
  15. 15. word of mouth The view from the Roost t’s called the Roost. Otherwise known as the nosebleed seats: those perched at the very top of the Ward Theatre, the powder-blue grand dame of downtown Kingston. But to my eight-year-old self, as I gazed down at the spectacle taking place on the stage far below, they were the best seats in the house. annual pantomime, produced by the Little Theatre Movement: a bevy of spectacle, fuelled by catchy music, and populated by engaging sets and vibrant costumes. Jamaican pantomime is the love child of the British Christmas pantomime and Afro-Jamaican traditions pulling from Jamaican folk culture, history, Anancy play in 1949 (Bluebeard and Brer Anancy, written by Noel Vaz and Louise Bennett). In 1954 there was a forceful move towards indigenisation, with the first Anancy cycle of plays: Anancy and the Magic Mirror (by Greta Fowler) and Louise Bennett’s Anancy and Pandora and Anancy and Beeny Bud. T he product ions have benef ited from and help to defined and develop some of the island’s best acting, writing, directing, musical, and choreography talent, including the legendary Miss Lou, Ranny Williams, Charles Hyatt, and Rex Nettleford. Not only was it a training ground for many in theatre, but it was also responsible for the birth of the School of Drama, now a part of the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts. In its early days, the pantomime ran for a few weeks. Today, productions usually run for approximately three months. The themes over the decades The occasion was the 1983 pantomime Ginneral B, and my entire family and I were dressed, pressed, and out with a throng of other Jamaicans from across the country to see the production. Ginneral B wasn’t my first panto, but it’s the earliest one I can remember. The memories aren’t very clear. Apart from the sight of actor Oliver Samuels in a bright white suit, and a car that somehow made it onto the stage, it is the feeling of awe that I recall more than anything else. This has been the hallmark of Jamaica’s and contemporary realities. The panto has become a staple of the Jamaican theatrical diet, so much so that in his book The Jamaican Theatre Wycliffe Bennett describes the national pantomime as “uncompromisingly Jamaican as rice and peas and ackee and salt fish.” The first pantomime, Jack and the Beanstalk, was staged in 1941, and in those days it stuck close to its British origins. The panto had its first brush w ith Jamaicanised content in 1943 (Soliday and the Wicked Bird), and its first have been varied. Recent pantos have pulled from history in Combolo and Miss Annie, explored folk tales in Iffa Nuh So and Anancy and Goat Head Soup, and dealt with contemporary happenings in Runner Boy and Howzaat. The 73rd pantomime, The Golden Maccafat, will continue the tradition of exploring contemporary issues through a folk prism, fuelled by dance and music. It opens on Boxing Day, 26 December, 2013 — with more than a few awestruck youngsters in the audience. n Tanya Batson-Savage remembers the excitement of Jamaica’s annual pantomime Darren Cheewah I 30 WWW.CARIBBEAN-BEAT.COM
  16. 16. the look In the bag Jamaican designer Kesi Gibson of Kyu Mélange creates handbags inspired by different cultures Photography courtesy Kesi Gibson W e all know what it’s like to follow in our parents’ footsteps. With her mother creating mosaics using exquisite materials, it’s no surprise that Kesi Gibson made the jump from finance to fashion to create Kyu Mélange. This Jamaican designer and alumna of the prestigious Wharton School of business in Pennsylvania designs beautifully handcrafted bags for both men and women, drawing inspiration from different cultures and combining vibrant raw materials from countries such as Turkey, Argentina, and Jamaica. Each has a wonderful combination of fabrics, is incredibly fresh, and is a functional wearable piece of art. Look out for Gibson’s holiday collection this November, and her expansion to cool jewellery. Alia Michèle Orane style.aliamichele.com Above As seen on the Caribbean Fashion Week runway, the Lulu shoulder bag is for any woman on the go Left A balanced combination of leather and silk makes this Makeda clutch a must-have For more information on retail outlets and items for purchase, visit www.kyulmelange.com 32 WWW.CARIBBEAN-BEAT.COM WWW.CARIBBEAN-AIRLINES.COM 33
  17. 17. Bookshelf Jamaica in Black and White: Photography in Jamaica, c 1845–1920, by David Boxer and Edward Lucie-Smith (Macmillan Education, 304 pp, ISBN 9781405098878) The considered historical photography book can mean a broad significance of things: it may serve as an emotional treasury, a satellite to one’s past and the past of one’s predecessors. It may be a compiled series of waypoints by which archivists and historical aficionados might navigate the development of a nation, a phenomenon, or a collective identity. It has the potential to be both cultural criticism and sepia slideshow, dually. This new compendium of photographs gleaned almost exclusively from the David Boxer collection, with accompanying texts by Boxer, former chief curator of the National Gallery of Jamaica, and art critic Edward LucieSmith, is both emotionally resonant and historically illuminating. Known photographs from the late nineteenth into the early twentieth century do not encompass Jamaican slavery’s denouement — they begin in earnest from the early days of post-abolition, continuing through to the rebuilding of Kingston in the aftermath of the devastating 1907 earthquake. Events that contribute to the bedrock of Jamaican history are captured in still images by photographers of the age (notably A. Duperly and sons, though many of the featured photographs retain little to no significant source information). The Morant Bay Rebellion of 1865; the 1872 construction of Victoria Market; the heyday and decline of the island’s railway system: these scenes from the architectural, civic, and resistance archives of daily life find a generous berth of representation in these pages. The auxiliary texts of Lucie-Smith and Boxer are intelligent sideline additions: the images are always focal, compass points of an era in Jamaican history reinvigorated with vitality through contemporary examination. Of particular appeal are the book’s numerous portraits. From these, a sense of multi-faceted, many-chambered personhood emerges, in the formal and unforced studies of landowners, field labourers, ex-slaves, immigrants, children: considered as an extended treatment in human study, these images will both inform and fascinate. Shivanee Ramlochan, Bookshelf editor A Kind of Eden, by Amanda Smyth (Serpent’s Tail, 288 pp, ISBN 9781846688133) Amanda Smyth’s second novel is a poetically violent contemplation of contemporary Trinidadian life, experienced through the jaded yet hopeful eyes of British police officer Martin Rawlinson. The foreigner navigates the island’s lush terrain with an uneasy appreciation, finding fleeting yet heady comforts in the arms of a younger local mistress. The author’s prose enacts a half-loving, halfhorrified portraiture of a savage and terrifyingly beautiful place. As the novel’s dubious hero vacillates between ideas of identity and transplantation, the sympathetic reader feels Rawlinson’s fear: how so many of his personal dreams for peace unhinge in the chaos of one violent night, and the difficult decisions he must make in the wake of his family’s endangerment. Smyth guides the narrative smoothly, invoking terror and reflective disquiet alongside descriptions of natural splendour. SR 34 Santimanitay, by Nathalie Taghaboni (Commess University Press, 361 pp, ISBN 9780615873336) The much-anticipated second book in Nathalie Taghaboni’s Savanoy family series is a lot darker than its predecessor Across From Lapeyrouse, and deals with issues that most families would sweep under the carpet: alcoholism, mental illness, infidelity, and even more morbid reality. In telling Carlton and Helene’s love story, the author brings more of the Savanoys’ history to light. Without revealing spoilers, there is one passage where any woman who has had a child will put the book down to weep. This author’s ability to draw in and captivate a reader is quite unique. I don’t think I have ever been quite as invested in a book’s characters as I was with Santimanitay’s. You’ll leave this book feeling like the Savanoys are your own family. WWW.CARIBBEAN-BEAT.COM Bridget van Dongen WWW.CARIBBEAN-AIRLINES.COM 35
  18. 18. playlist Creole Soul Etienne Charles Trinidad Calypso 1939–1959 Various artists Calypso conquered the world after Harry Belafonte’s 1956 Calypso album became an unprecedented success, but overseas fascination began far earlier, thanks to plentiful recording sessions that took place both in New York and Port of Spain. And many commentators agree that calypso’s “golden age” stretches from the late 1930s to the early 36 WWW.CARIBBEAN-BEAT.COM 1960s, which is the era profiled on this double CD. Humour is naturally a big part of the proceedings, with Kitchener demanding that his girlfriend return “My Wife’s Nightie”, Terror fretting that “Chinese Children Calling Me Daddy”, and Houdini bemoaning a lack of “Gin and Coconut Water” in the United States. Of equal interest are intriguing calypso adaptations of traditional tunes, such as “Hol’ Em Joe” by Sparrow, the excellent “Kalenda March” by Roaring Lion, and “River Den Come Down” by the obscure Island Champions. There are many perennial favorites, including Invader’s “Rum and Coca Cola”, Sparrow’s “Russian Satellite”, and Kitchener’s “Kitch”, but the uncommon gems bring the compilation to a higher level. For instance, there is a superbly sultry adaptation of the ribald “Fire Down Below”, credited to Beauty and the Brute Force Steel Band, and the pairing of actress Enid Mosier with a Trinidadian steelband for a rendition of Lord Melody’s “Boys Days” is an uncommon delight, as is Young Tiger’s “Calypso Be-Bop”. This fine compilation thus has plenty of interest for a broad audience, from the seasoned calypso hand to those not overly familiar with the form. David Katz Born in Trinidad, and now an assistant professor of trumpet at the Michigan State University College of Music, Etienne Charles is fast becoming one of the biggest names in current jazz music. He opens his fourth album, Creole Soul, with voodoo priest Erol Josué chanting in Haitian Creole. Inspired by a trip to Haiti, the first track, “Creole”, has an outstanding performance by drummer Obed Calvaire as he kicks off a fiery backbeat with a scintillating kongo groove. The tone then slows down for the ballad “The Folks”, which includes two excellent solos from Charles along with his tenor saxophonist Jacques Schwarz-Bart. To go along with the originals there are also four excellent covers. Two standouts are Bob Marley’s classic “Turn Your Lights Down Low” — given the obvious reggae treatment, but also including a mesh of soul and calypso. “Green Chimneys” (originally by jazz legend Thelonious Monk) is also arranged to showcase the calypso root in the melody. That chant at the beginning of the disc translates into “I’m bringing the news,” but what Charles brings us is a vibrant and exciting album that isn’t just jazz, but a mashup of everything Caribbean. Sheldon Cadet Single Spotlight My Allergy Depressed Optimist Since the inception of Irie Fire Studios in Antigua a couple of years ago, I’ve been keeping an ear open, keen to hear what they would come up with. With the recent release of “My Allergy” by Depressed Optimist, my optimism has been well rewarded. The band is fronted by the multitalented Hani Hechme, who not also manages the studio but also composed, arranged, played guitar and bass, and sang the main vocals on the track, which features a plethora of young Antiguan musical talent. It begins with a moody monologue by Che Ferris on drums (if you are in Antigua you should see him live, playing with his other band, Monkey Tee-Lee), then bursts into superb guitar playing by Hechme. The backing vocals add to the moodiness of the sound, and the old-school record-scratching from DJ Quixx brings everything together. Their sound is very different to anything currently being played in the Caribbean. I’m eager to hear what else will come out of this exciting new addition to the Caribbean music scene. Check them out at www.iriefirestudio.com. SC WWW.CARIBBEAN-AIRLINES.COM 37
  19. 19. cookup The taste of home Far away from her native Dominican Republic, Clara Gonzalez decides to recreate a traditional Christmas meal. But where do you find a pernil in Denmark — or Dominican batatas? Photograph by Clara Gonzalez I Pan de batata t’s easy to underestimate the importance of Christmas for Dominicans. Other countries celebrate many holidays with equal fervour, but this is not the case in the Dominican Republic, where Christmas is the year’s most noteworthy occasion. With the exception of the Lenten season, no other festivity has dishes that are indelibly connected with the feast. The Christmas Eve dinner brings Dominican families together — it is a time to celebrate the ties that bind us. And wherever we find ourselves, we’ll try to bring a little of the flavour of the homeland with us. If you happen to end up in an area remote and disconnected from the Dominican Republic, well, it just means a little more effort has to be made, but nothing will stop a Dominican from keeping the tradition. Over ten years ago I was in Denmark, where my husband hails from, spending the holiday season with his family. Cold as it was, I was determined to bring a little of my own culture into a celebration which in Denmark is also steeped in ancient traditions. I had the brilliant (read: insane) idea of treating everybody to an “authentic” traditional Dominican Christmas meal on 23 December. But, enthusiasm aside, creating dishes with ingredients native to, or popular in, the Caribbean turned out to be quite the predicament. To make matters worse, we were not even in the capital, Copenhagen, where finding some of the ingredients had a slightly better chance than a snowball in hell — or a snowball in the Caribbean, for that matter. Instead we were in a small tourist town far away from any major city. This idea of mine proved to be the type of challenge that reality TV is made of. Even under these conditions, I was still able to procure yuca (cassava) and platanos (plantains) in a nearby city, and with considerable diligence, a pernil. It’s easy to forget that what is common to the point of being unremarkable in our country may be considered exotic in another. For a country that consumes a heck of a lot WWW.CARIBBEAN-AIRLINES.COM 39
  20. 20. Pan de batata (sweet potato pudding) Pan de batata is a delicious dessert with a very exotic and spicy taste. The aroma of cinnamon and cloves and the touch of ginger make it the very embodiment of tropical cuisine. The variety of sweet potato used for this dessert, although common in the Dominican Republic, may be more difficult to find elsewhere. It is bright purple with greenish flesh, and very sweet once cooked. If you can’t find this type, you should add three tablespoons of cornstarch to the mixture to compensate for the lower amount of starch in other varieties. 2 lbs sweet potatoes 2 eggs 1½ cup brown sugar 1 cup whole milk 1 teaspoon salt ½ cup butter at room temperature (or 1/3 cup vegetable oil) ½ cup finely chopped coconut 2 tsp grated ginger 1 tsp cinnamon powder 1 tsp clove powder ½ tsp nutmeg powder Preheat the oven to 350ºF (175ºC). Use a teaspoon of butter to cover a nine-inch baking pan. Peel the sweet potatoes. Grate with the least coarse side of your grater or pulse in the food processor until you obtain a paste. Add all the remaining ingredients to the sweet potato and whisk until it is well mixed. Pour the mixture into the pan and bake until you test with a clean knife and it comes out clean (about thirty-five minutes). Cool to room temperature before removing from the pan. 40 WWW.CARIBBEAN-BEAT.COM immerse Christmas rice Each family seems to have its own version of this dish, which has become an inseparable part of the traditional Christmas and New Year’s Eve dinner. 3 cups long-grain rice 1 cup golden and dark raisins, mixed 1 cup of flaked blanched almonds 4 cups vegetable stock (see note below) 4 tbs oil Salt Heat the vegetable stock until it breaks a boil, and keep hot. Heat the oil over low heat in a cast iron or aluminium pot. Add two teaspoons of salt (but see note below). Add the rice and stir for about three minutes. The rice should change a bit in colour, but do not let it burn. Add the vegetable stock and stir (careful with splatters!). Cook over low heat, stir two to three minutes. When the water has nearly evaporated, add the raisins and stir. Cover and cook over very, very low heat for twenty minutes. Heat a skillet over medium heat. Add the almonds and stir until they turn light golden, but do not let them burn. Uncover the rice, stir, and add the almonds. Stir again to mix them. Serve immediately. Note: If you do not have homemade vegetable stock, you can use a store-bought version, or dissolve a vegetable bouillon cube in boiling water. Take into consideration that they contain salt, so taste it. If the amount of salt seems sufficient for the rice, omit the additional salt from the recipe. And since finding batatas (Dominican sweet potatoes) in cold Denmark would be akin to finding rødgrød med fløde being served in the Dominican Republic, I used the more common sweet potatoes (the ones with the orangey flesh) and some corn starch (they have less starch than batatas) for my favorite dessert of the season. While pan de batata (spiced sweet potato pudding) is not commonly associated with Christmas in the Dominican Republic, it has become a staple of our family Christmas celebration. Its spicy, gingery taste is the perfect ending to the night, and I wasn’t going to have a “Dominican” Christmas dinner without it. Adaptation, experimentation, sweat, and frustration were the words to describe that feat of stubbornness. I wasn’t sure how it would turn out, but that didn’t stop me. It worked. Everybody loved the dishes, the “exotic” flavors, and the idea of a Christmas from beyond the sea, transplanted from an island of palm trees to the land of Vikings. A holiday miracle! n Nadia Huggins of pork, finding a fresh ham in Denmark proved to be quite the achievement. Luckily, my in-laws own a hotel and restaurant. They have a good relationship with the town’s butcher, who got us one after a couple of days’ waiting. Whatever ingredients I couldn’t f ind, I adapted and substituted. No whole-grain bulgur for kipes (fried bulgur rolls)? I made kipes with peeled bulgur and added a bit of flour to help with the consistency. No yautia or ñame, Caribbean root vegetables? I made pasteles en hoja (traditional Dominican savoury cakes wrapped in plantain leaves) with yuca and platanos, and added a grated potato to add more starch. Since finding plantain leaves would be impossible in Denmark, I wrapped them in parchment paper. The most difficult part proved to be guandules (pigeon peas) for a moro de guandules (rice and pigeon peas). Nobody in Denmark had ever heard of them. They seem to be quite uncommon outside the Caribbean. So I gambled and bought mung beans, based on appearance only, and decided to try them. Their taste is similar to the “ashy”, nutty taste of guandules. It turned out not a lot unlike the real thing. Or perhaps it was homesickness that convinced me of that. 42 From island to end zone 48 Making her claim 52 The Popop spirit 58 “You time every night” a 61 Christmas skanking have to give them good Closeup Snapshot Own Words Backstory Riddem Rhyme A courtyard at Nassau’s Popopstudios shows traces of the handiwork of its community of artists
  21. 21. closeup Who are the Caribbean’s best football players? No, the other football: not soccer, but American football, whose highest level is the National Football League. Unknown to most sports fans at home, Caribbean athletes have exuberantly infiltrated the NFL, bringing a distinctive spirit to the artificially turfed field of play. Debbie Jacob meets four football players from the islands who are changing the face of this all-American game hey are football players with Caribbean roots, but when these players dig their cleats into the artificial turf, they aren’t kicking around the soccer ball that defined their youth. They are playing American football — a misnomer for a game originally derived from rugby, but purposely changed in the nineteenth century when spectators lost interest in watching piles of players painstakingly pushing their way down a field. As boys, they didn’t know of this North American sport where scoring points depends mainly on a quarterback handing off the ball to a running back, or throwing it to designated receivers who never kick the ball. They never dreamed of playing American football, but — drafted or signed as free agents by a National Football League team — Caribbean players bring to the game the flair and confidence that defines the region. From the New York Giants’ wide receiver Victor Cruz, who celebrates his goals and his Puerto Rican roots with salsa dances in the end zone, to the New Orleans Saints’ outside linebacker Jonathan Vilma, known for his brutal tackles as well as his Haitian ancestry, the NFL currently lists fifteen players with Caribbean ties. They are colourful and controversial characters both on and off the football field. These Caribbean players have earned a reputation for being bold, tenacious, loyal, light-hearted, fiercely confident, and competitive. They play with all the pride they have inherited as West Indians, and they take every opportunity they can to claim their heritage. Their numbers are few, but there’s no doubt about it: in American football, Caribbean athletes are making waves. Pierre Garçon Washington Redskins #88 Born 8 August, 1986 6 feet, 0 inches; 212 pounds 42 WWW.CARIBBEAN-BEAT.COM ast year, wide receiver Pierre Garçon proved to be a key player in the Washington Redskins’ NFC East championship game. Best known for his passion for football and his pride in his Haitian roots, Garçon — formerly of the Indianapolis Colts — stamped an indelible image on the Colts’ 2010 victory over the New York Jets, when he celebrated by displaying the Haitian flag. “That victory was a week after the earthquake in Haiti,” says Garçon, WWW.CARIBBEAN-AIRLINES.COM 43
  22. 22. “The reality is, football is not a Caribbean sport,” Ramon Harewood explains. “You’re not born with a helmet and shoulder pads, and the deal-breaker for many athletes is the physical contact” “and I think I had the best game of my life. It was the blessings of everyone praying for me and my family and everyone in Haiti. I had a great hand in helping the team win that game.” Most people who are unaware of his background assume Garçon is French. He uses that misunderstanding to claim his Haitian roots. “My whole family is from Haiti,” he explains. “My three sisters were born in Haiti. I was born two years after my parents arrived in the US. I grew up speaking Kreyol at home and learned English when I went to school. I still have family in Léogâne, and my family goes there as often as possible. My mom is from Port-au-Prince. My Haitian roots are very important to me. It’s my identity,” says Garçon. “I tell people Haiti has the most beautiful people and beautiful beaches. It has the best food.” At home, Garçon savours his mother’s red beans and oxtail, creole shrimp and plantains. Being Haitian, Garçon says, serves him well. “It makes me appreciate life. It shows me how to work extremely hard through difficult times, because that’s how we have dealt with life as a people. We came through tough times throughout history, and we survived. “Being from Haiti gives me strength. As a football player, I never give up on anything or any task. I represent Haiti everywhere I go.” he Baltimore Ravens won 2013’s Super Bowl XLVII, the championship game at the end of the football season, with the help of Ramon Harewood, the NFL’s only player from Barbados. In September, Harewood became a free agent in search of another team after the Ravens released him. Still, he is the only Bajan with a Super Bowl ring. Harewood grew up playing volleyball, cricket, and rugby, and became a football player quite by accident, when an American Patrick Chung Philadelphia Eagles #23 Born 19 August, 1987 5 feet, 11 inches; 210 pounds Ramon Harewood Currently free agent Born 3 February, 1987 6 feet, 6 inches; 330 pounds 44 WWW.CARIBBEAN-BEAT.COM football scout vacationing in Barbados recruited him to play college football in the US. Harewood transferred from the University of the West Indies at Mona to Morehouse University in Atlanta, Georgia, where he earned a degree in applied physics and engineering. At Morehouse, Harewood had to learn American football from scratch. Drafted in the sixth round by the Ravens, Harewood spent much of his first two years with the team on injured reserve. Harewood credits his Bajan roots every chance he gets. “I was raised by an aunt after my mother died when I was ten,” he says. “I was raised to never say never — just keep fighting, and that’s all I did.” Harewood sees his success in the NFL as an anomaly. “The reality is, football is not a Caribbean sport,” Harewood explains. “American football is not a sport you can pick up and play. You have to want to do it. When you put those pads on, you separate the men from the boys. You’re not born with a helmet and shoulder pads, and the deal-breaker for many athletes is the physical contact. As much as I would like to push American football here in the Caribbean, it’s just not the reality here.” In the freezing Baltimore winters, Harewood often thought of Barbados. “I tell everyone Bajans are good, wholesome, decent people,” he says. “That’s what I miss most — the people, and my childhood friends. The majority of the friends I grew up with still live in Barbados.” hiladelphia Eagles safety Patrick Chung was born in Jamaica, where his mother Sophia George was famous for singing “Girlie Girlie”, a 1985 reggae hit. Chung migrated to the US with his family when he was ten. Far ahead of American students, Chung finished secondary school and enrolled at the University of Oregon at the age of sixteen. He describes himself as a Jamaican-American. Chung is often questioned about his Chinese name, and he spends time educating Americans about the ethnic diversity of his home country. “Growing up in Jamaica teaches you about diversity,” he says, “and it teaches you race doesn’t matter. It’s how you live life and how you treat people.” He still remembers settling into the US. “When I got here, no one could understand me when I talked. I was a young kid speaking a different language, Jamaican Creole.” One day Chung came home from school and broke the news to his mother that he wanted to play American football. “She said, ‘Can’t you be on the swim team?’ She didn’t want me to hit people.” Chung sports tattoos that remind him of his roots. “Kingston and August, my birthday, are on my right bicep, and Jamaica is on my left bicep,” he says. “I never forget my Jamaican roots.” He tells everyone that Jamaicans are down-to-earth, good people. Chung is a Bob Marley and reggae music fan, and he’d eat jerk chicken every day if he could. WWW.CARIBBEAN-AIRLINES.COM 45
  23. 23. Trevardo Williams hasn’t been back to Jamaica since migrating to the US, but he says, “I’m always going to be a Jamaican at heart. My best memories are in Jamaica” With his wife Celia, Chung recently launched the Chung Changing Lives Foundation, based in Massachusetts, to help children cope with school and life in poor areas. Eventually he hopes to expand his charity work to Jamaica. He credits his Jamaican roots with shaping him as a hardworking, relentless NFL player. “I realise I come from a small place,” he says, “but so many West Indians have shaped the US. I’m proud of that, and I know I can make a difference on the field. Jamaicans are fast and quick, and that helps us in football.” He adds, “I’m not just a Jamaican. I’m from the West Indies. That means pride, hard work, and being kind to people. My parents would slap me if they ever found out I wasn’t kind to someone.” nly one new West Indian player found his way to the NFL this year. At the 2013 NFL draft, the Houston Texans snatched up outside linebacker Trevardo Williams, who was born in Trelawny, Jamaica, just east of Montego Bay. Williams migrated to Connecticut when he was fourteen, to join his mother. He’s twenty-eight now, so he’s spent half his life in the US. But Williams still has a strong Jamaican accent, and at home he speaks Jamaican Patwa. “It’s cool to know I’m the only person from the West Indies in this year’s draft,” he says, when I inform him during an interview after football practice. Like other Caribbean players in the NFL, Williams says he’s sure his roots shape his morals and his work ethic. “In Jamaica, I was a church guy in the Pentecostal church,” he says. My values are home and family. I come from a tight-knit family.” Williams, who has a degree in sociology, hasn’t been back to Jamaica since migrating to the US, but he says, “I’m up-to-date with my culture, the food — my favourite is stewed chicken and fresh cabbage — and the music.” He dreams of returning to Jamaica to research his family tree. He vividly remembers Jamaica: playing cricket, dice, and the game “mama lash she,” and running through the countryside. “My mother came to America when I was four,” he says, “so I was raised by my maternal grandmother. I’m always going to be a Jamaican at heart. My best memories are in Jamaica.” n Trevardo Williams Houston Texans #54 Born 31 December, 1990 6 feet, 1 inch; 237 pounds HDPE Pipe, Fittings Fusion Machines Mimeco is providing procurement and service for the oil and gas industries globally. The oil and gas industry depends on reliability, quality and performance from electrical to PVF (pipe, valves and fitting) products for the energy industry. We have it all! Authorized Dealer for: Serving Trinidad and the Caribbean Exporting Worldwide Tel: 305.888.2405 | 305.888.4083 | Fax: 305.888.0529 | 7601 N.W. 74th Ave., Miami, Florida 33166 mimeco@bellsouth.net | www.mimecosupply.com 46 WWW.CARIBBEAN-BEAT.COM WWW.CARIBBEAN-AIRLINES.COM 47
  24. 24. snapshot Making her claim The daughter of an Afro-Chinese Jamaican father and a white British mother, writer Hannah Lowe grew up feeling “white” but at the same time different. Coming to terms with her father’s life and death prompted her earliest poems — and publishing her debut book Chick has forced a reckoning with her own identity. Melissa Richards learns more Photograph by Tim Ridley D espite the swell of her belly, Hannah Lowe is perched, apparently comfortably, on a wide bench at the British Library in London. The child who is coming will bear her father’s name, she says. “It’s important for me not to lose the name, because the child won’t feel the connection to the Caribbean that I do.” Chick, Lowe’s first collection of poetry — published in February 2013, and shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best First Collection — is also named for her father. A mixed-race Chineseblack Jamaican immigrant to Britain, Chick was a professional gambler who was already in his fifties when Lowe and her brother were born. They grew up in Ilford, just outside London, where their white British mother was deputy head teacher at a primary school. The complex legacy of her father’s life is at the heart of Lowe’s writing. Not only was he a gambler, 48 WWW.CARIBBEAN-BEAT.COM he was also willing to stack the odds in his own favour. Lowe and her brother knew their father gambled for a living, but that he played dishonestly was something they saw only in glimpses. Her brother caught him ironing cellophane around a pack of cards, to make them appear new; in a hall cupboard there was a little guillotine for shaving the sides off of cards; there were pots of ink, penknives, and scalpels around the house, and a dentist’s drill her father used for loading dice. These objects inhabit her poems, but only past childhood did she make sense of them. “When I said to my mum later, ‘Where was Dad doing this?’ she said, ‘Oh, love, he’d be doing it wherever you weren’t.’ The way that that sort of shifts the memories of your childhood is quite incredible,” Lowe explains. “And then these little things start to make sense: I remember seeing him loading dice and not knowing what he was doing, and the door sort of being pushed shut in my face.” All of this within the façade of white middleclass family life. Both children looked white. “We both really identified as being white, because we were both treated as white. We are white in one way, but I think there was always the sense of feeling very different as well,” Lowe says. More than just the presence of their black father, there was, for example, the fact that they ate Jamaican food. Their father spent nights out gambling, returning to the family home at dawn, then much of the day asleep, but he did all the cooking. “He was a house husband. But he wasn’t like a traditional man — he was happy to do all the cooking, make cakes and puddings. He loved all that.” Lowe’s was a childhood full of contradictions. Her father both was, and was not, part of family life. They all went on family holidays together, but Lowe says he sometimes felt like a lodger. He ferried the children around, but Lowe was known to tell friends he was a taxi driver her mother had sent to collect her. “I was always having to explain him to other people,” she says, “but it wasn’t just the fact that he was black and I was white. It was the fact that he was so old. He looked like a grandfather, and often he’d just got out of bed because he’d been playing cards all night, so he was this old dishevelled man with his hair stood on end.” One of the difficulties about promoting Chick, she says, is getting across that it’s “not just about having a black dad,” but about all the things her father was. R alph Lowe (“Chick” was a gambling nickname) had a tragic upbringing. Born in Jamaica in 1925 to a Chinese immigrant Hannah Lowe’s was a childhood full of contradictions. Her father both was, and was not, part of family life. They all went on family holidays together, but Lowe says he sometimes felt like a lodger WWW.CARIBBEAN-AIRLINES.COM 49
  25. 25. shopkeeper and his black servant, he believed that his own father had “bought” him from his mother to use as a lackey in the shop. Lowe says her grandmother gave up all claim to her son and later refused to acknowledge him, and her father found a receipt which seemed to indicate money had changed hands. Ralph was brutalised by his father, and would often run to his mother’s house, begging her to let him stay, only to be sent back. Lowe says her father was haunted by the knowledge that his mother didn’t want him. Much of what Lowe knows about her father’s early life is from notebooks and tapes he used to document his own story. Lowe was studying literature at university, “and I kept doing courses in black women’s writing and postcolonial literature, but I wasn’t putting it together. I just thought, Oh, I’m interested in this. I was just beginning to realise that perhaps I was interested in the story of his life, and in my identity and how race is constructed, all of those things — and then he died.” Because of his age and lifestyle, her father had been ill for much of her childhood, but was diagnosed with cancer while she 50 WWW.CARIBBEAN-BEAT.COM was at university. The cancer went away, but came back two or three years later, by which time Lowe had started a master’s degree in refugee studies. It was just three weeks between this new diagnosis and his eventual death. Her mother called her at university and told her to come home. “By the time I got there, he could hardly talk any more. It put me — without being overly dramatic — into a sort of psychic crisis. I realised that I needed to know his story, and he was going to die, and there was nothing I could do to bring him back. It was just too late.” When he lost consciousness, Lowe was completely grief-stricken. “But it was not just the grief of losing a father, it was a sort of cultural grief, really.” For “years and years and years after,” she would dream he was still alive. “In these dreams I go out into the street. I’d be looking for him, the road signs would be all wrong. They were sad dreams. I can laugh about them now, but I was always dreaming that I had the chance to talk to him again.” Long after his death, and after many years of academic writing, Lowe began writing poems about Ralph. She joined a creative A decade on, with the publication of Chick, Lowe may finally have gone as far as she needs to into her father’s life. Although her racial identity remains an open question writing class, and it became a running joke that every week she would bring in a new poem about her father. A decade on, with the publication of Chick, and having just found a publisher for a family memoir which intersperses chapters about her own childhood with fictionalised chapters about 1930s Jamaica based on her father’s notebooks, she may finally have gone as far as she needs to into her father’s life. Although her racial identity remains an open question. A t a recent history conference, Lowe witnessed an eminent white historian being challenged by a woman in the audience, who wanted to know when he felt the narrating of black history should be in the hands of black people, and what he was doing to facilitate this. Lowe seems personally affected by having witnessed the exchange. She says that after years and years of never making any claim on a black identity — “for all the reasons that I wouldn’t, because I have had all the privileges of a white upbringing, to the extent that I know those privileges still exist” — the experience of publishing Chick made her realise that hers is accepted as another black British voice. “But to hear that woman say that — I still can’t square it.” The only thing of which she is certain is that there are no absolutes. “Twenty or thirty years ago in Britain, when minority literature, black literature, started getting studied, things were said like, ‘These are voices from the margins that have unique insights,’ and I think things that I can say complicate that a bit, because I’m not a voice from the margins at all.” She wonders if the things that she can say might make people think about “passing” and ideas around it — “because, let’s face it, two hundred years ago, if I’d been born in Jamaica, I’d have been a slave. On the ‘one drop’ theory of racial purity, plantations in Jamaica had people working on them who looked like me . . . Does it make people think, actually, what is race, what does ‘black’ look like?” Lowe wants the child she is carrying to share the legacy of her father, although she’s still unsure how this will be communicated. Will it involve having to say something like, Oh, my dad was black? “For years and years and years I never said anything like that. It was in poetry that I got to make a claim.” n WWW.CARIBBEAN-AIRLINES.COM 51
  26. 26. Nadia Huggins backstory When artist John Cox decided to turn a small family cottage in Nassau into a modest studio and gallery, he had no idea that Popopstudios — named for his grandfather — would grow into the driving force behind contemporary art in the Bahamas. Fourteen years later, Popopstudios International Centre for the Visual Arts is becoming a contender in the international art world, but as Sonia Farmer explains, its creative community still has a family dynamic 52 WWW.CARIBBEAN-BEAT.COM Nadia Huggins The Popop spirit R Popopstudios’ colourful façade welcomes visitors to meet its community of artists olling up to Popopstudios International Centre for the Visual Arts on any given day is a bit of a risk. Not because the art space is nestled in the heart of Chippingham, a once well-to-do west Nassau neighbourhood that has fallen into disarray — in fact, the cheerful yellow picket fence enclosing psychedelic pink porches emits a welcoming glow, a sign that a special community thrives here. It’s because any member of that community could be huddled away in one of eleven or so studio spaces, or installing work in the main gallery, or teaching a workshop, or gathered around one of those porches for a quick chat that gradually and inevitably develops into deeper meditations on life and art. At any given time, ready to welcome any visitor could one be artist, or two, or all of them. Every person who has become part of Popopstudios’ community has contributed a particular energy to its ebullient spirit. The building reverberates with a constant hum of creative energy that rises and falls in pitch depending on who inhabits the space. Almost always, you get lucky, and spend hours touring the studio spaces, on the receiving end of some true Bahamas hospitality from the varied resident artists — who at any given time might include painters, photographers, sculptors, ceramicists, filmmakers, jewellery-makers, and quilters, and who might hail from Nassau, from the Caribbean region, or even the wider world. If you’re really lucky, you might even become part of the family and begin to tap into the intangible core of what Popopstudios is all about. WWW.CARIBBEAN-AIRLINES.COM 53
  27. 27. finally gave contemporary and experimental artwork a platform in the Bahamas. Cox was surprised that people sought out the space, in order to see how Bahamian art was progressing. “At the beginning,” he says, “we wanted to create a community of artists who shared the same philosophical stance. It was about having similar intentions with our work — kind of bucking the system and its nostalgic view of the landscape, and challenging presentation. “My work and work of close friends were not seen as part of the mainstream,” he adds. “The older generation had done their thing, but I felt like there was such a generation gap. I felt like we could cultivate something that took that momentum they started for Bahamian art and take it even further.” The chance to expand the community came in 2007, when Cox’s aunt Iris Dillet-Knowles, proprietor of Dillet’s Guest House, handed the property over to him. The guesthouse was previously the family home, cobbled together by none other than Pop Pop himself. A self-made man who left school to pursue a prosperous career in the building trade, Pop Pop regularly added to a modest Lisa wells “At the beginning,” says John Cox, “we wanted to create a community of artists who shared the same philosophical stance. It was about having similar intentions with our work” Artist John Cox, founder of Popopstudios convoluted every day.” He adds, “We need to understand those things, and we need to realise how important they are.” He expresses constant amazement at how Popopstudios, which started as his personal artistic practice, has grown into something beyond his ability to define. It began in a cottage on the family property in Chippingham, built by his grandfather Edward Dillet — known affectionately as “Pop Pop.” In 1999, in the large working space he built next door to the cottage, Cox exhibited a series of dynamic chair designs branded “Pop.Pop Studios.” For the next seven years, Popopstudios existed as an alternative gallery space in both cottage and studio, not only for works by Cox but also for several of his peers — Toby Lunn, Heino Schmid, Blue Curry, Michael Edwards, and Jason Bennett. Their group exhibitions, approaching subject matter, material, and installation in unconventional ways, 54 WWW.CARIBBEAN-BEAT.COM central structure to make space for extended family members, eventually ending up with more of a compound than a house. Cox never met his grandfather, who died in 1964 — almost a decade before Cox was born — yet he remains in many ways a reincarnation of Pop Pop’s exuberance, kindness, and creativity. The property, too, he decided, needed a reincarnation worthy of its eighty-five-year-old history. “ W hen we came here for the first time, I remember driving through Chippingham and thinking, Oh gosh, where are we?” says artist Danielle “Dede” Brown. “I love it here, the whole vibe of the property.” In 2008, when Cox turned the numerous bedrooms of the house into a collection of artists’ studios for rent, Brown and Left Collaborating on a Popopstudios silkscreen Below One of the art centre’s studio spaces her partner Dylan Rapillard were among the first to snatch up a shared space. Since then, they have been constant pillars of the Popop community. Brown credits Popop with changing her perspective on her creative practice. “The support from everyone here is so natural and informal — Popop is my art family,” she says. “You go through those moments where you question yourself and the way your work is going, and then someone like Dylan or John would come in and give feedback. It’s definitely very personal and emotional — you don’t feel like you’re just renting a space.” When artist Heino Schmid returned home to Nassau in 2003 after studying abroad, he quickly formed a creative kinship with Cox and became a central member of the Popopstudios community. “There was no other place I could think to go for contemporary Bahamian work,” says Schmid. “People underestimate how important it is for an artist to feel like they can activate an area. It’s very important to feel like you can manipulate the physicality of the space your work exists in,” he explains, “because it sort of thickens the content. There was no other place on the island that allowed for that opportunity.” Now, in his role as Popop’s exhibitions director, Schmid pushes for shows that generate conversation about contemporary Bahamian art. And in March 2013 there was a chance to expand that conversation, when Popopstudios ICVA represented Schmid’s work at the VoltaNY Art Fair in New York City. To fund the VoltaNY project, the community rallied behind Schmid, as he organised a special exhibition of his work in Popop’s gallery space. The turnout, says Schmid, showed that people not only support him as an artist, but recognise the relevance of the institution. His work at VoltaNY went on to be viewed by an estimated fifty thousand guests. “There’s no other place like it,” says Schmid of Popopstudios. “If I had to work someplace else — I don’t actually know where that would be. I tell people all the time, when I travel and I get homesick, I don’t miss my house — I miss my studio.” Nadia Huggins feel like, in a way, that’s the mysticism of Popop,” says its founder, Bahamian artist John Cox. “It kind of manifests itself in different bodies, in different ways. There is a compassion there, and sometimes it manifests itself in warm and inviting and welcoming ways, and other times it comes across as kind of a dragon, more ferocious. Both things are important.” For Cox, balance is not so much a goal as a constant exercise in conscious creativity. His mixed media paintings and assemblages often engage the life cycle of balance: struggle, transcendence, and acceptance. This drive encapsulates not only his creative work, but also his pitch as curator at the National Art Gallery of the Bahamas, his mentorship of emerging artists as a professor at the College of the Bahamas — and his journey to build a hub for contemporary Bahamian art at Popopstudios. That journey now faces a crossroads, as the space tries to find the right approach to stand on its own in a globalised conversation about art. “We’ve always been a place that is about the ‘art’ part of art,” says Cox, “because art has a lot of parts, the majority of which are not about art, and which become more matthew cromwell I “ I n 2010, Popopstudios gained non-profit status, and became an International Centre for the Visual Arts: part of a push towards expanding its community beyond the Bahamian artists based in its studios. Workshops and critical discussions, offered by resident artists as well as artists from the wider community, were the beginnings of what Popop hopes will become a rigorous education programme, making the space a dynamic school of arts. Artists’ residencies are also part of the plan. Popopstudios’ residency programme is twofold. On the one hand, visiting artists-in-residence get to expand their artistic practice in a new context, while also providing the Bahamian community with glimpses of the international contemporary art scene. On the other, Popop’s Junior Residency Programme — a partnership with the D’Aguilar Art Foundation and artist Antonius Roberts — gives young Bahamian artists a chance to find their bearings in the art world. Now in existence for five years, the Junior Residency Programme has proven to be a turning point for its participants. Veronica Dorsett, a 2012 Popopstudios Junior Resident, recently participated in Caribbean Linked II, a residency based in Aruba. Dorsett credits her time at Popopstudios with giving her a context for her artistic practice, and the confidence to apply it to other creative opportunities. “During the residency,” she says, “the reality of creating my own points of interest and subject matter was the biggest eye-opener. Popop gave me an inkling of hope that I could be a functioning artist.” WWW.CARIBBEAN-AIRLINES.COM 55
  28. 28. ARICO F SO C O RIC M EARS R CA IC With 117 branches, and more than 6,000 employees serving more than 1 million clients, RBC Royal Bank has served the region for over a century. OF CA RBC® blends experience in the region with global expertise to bring value to our customers and communities every day. Our strength comes from being part of the world’s soundest banking system. As a responsible bank, we are committed to corporate integrity, positive community and economic impact, environmental sustainability and we strive to deliver value for our customers and employees. 40 OAR O S BA D BA R M CO C C www.rbc.com/caribbean A MINIC UA C DO C 0 TIG A 4 Y M 40 AN RBUD BA THE MAN CAY NDS A ISL CARI S TT S KI VI T. NE S SABA C C 40 Y O CA OF O RIC M CU BO RAÇ NA AO IR E E 40 Y ST. MAARTE ST. MAARTEN T M ICO ST AN . VI GR D NC EN TH EN AD E T IN ES F F F F F F F F F F F F F OF CA C C ARS S YE S COM RI C C F CAR 40 YE M F F F F FC FC FC FC OF C C C ERRAT MONTS EARS C OF A Lisa wells C C Serving the Needs of the Caribbean Community EARS WWW.CARIBBEAN-BEAT.COM THE AMAS BAH E S E S E S E S EA S S S S S S S YE RS 56 40 Y M 4 TM SO AR F Over the years, the mission of Popopstudios has shifted from its anarchic origins into something more allencompassing: a community that thrives on its own internal debates about art C C S OF C T he expansion of Popopstudios ICVA has brought both exciting oppor tunities and har rowing realities as it looks to the future. The biggest anxiety is an all-too-familiar struggle for art spaces: fundraising. The second-biggest is a little harder to define, but includes the shift of responsibility for running the space. Along with a new board, Popopstudios has gained a manager of operations to move the space through its new set of growing pains. Jay Koment is a freelance art dealer who previously ran New Providence Art and Antiques. No stranger to the less glamorous details of running an art space, Koment knows the importance of the big picture, but is aware that the devil is in the details. “Popop needs to be a place where people can do what they do, which is make art,” he says. “That’s the endgame. People have to be comfortable making their work here.” Slowly, over the years, the mission of Popopstudios has shifted from its anarchic origins into something more allencompassing: a community that thrives on its own internal debates about art. In a way, Popopstudios ICVA is John Cox’s single greatest creative work, if only for its struggle to find the perfect balance between maintaining its inspiring organic pace and recognising the need to harness, categorise, and formalise that inspiration, to make Popop a weighty contender in the regional and international art world. Popop’s biggest hope is also, paradoxically, its biggest fear: what if its growth and the attendant bureaucratic realities begin to formalise the space in a way that hinders its very spirit? What if the family becomes too big for the space? But like his grandfather Pop Pop before him, Cox knows there is a way to make room in the house for everyone. “The most important thing is the spirit of Popop,” says Cox. “The most meaningful part is the hardest thing to articulate, and what we are trying to do is expose people to that experience.” “I’ve been blessed enough to have this experience over and over again, and most artists know what I am talking about. We want to take that to everyone.” n SU RIN AM E O IC AR O C C EA 0Y R YEAR M 4 S S S F S F S OF C ARUBA C C CIA EA 0 0Y 0Y R 0Y R 0Y R 0Y R M 40 ST. LU C C EA 40 JAMAI CA TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO OM O RS F Artist Michael Edwards leads a workshop at Popopstudios Global Expertise, Local Impact ® Trademarks of Royal Bank of Canada. Used under licence. KS TUR OS C CAI NDS ISLA
  29. 29. Own words “You have to give them a good time every night” Trinidadian DJ Christopher Leacock, a.k.a the Jillionaire, frontline member of the international DJ project Major Lazer, on starting off with bootleg cassettes, negotiating fame, and taking Caribbean music to new audiences around the world — as told to Tracy Assing Photograph by Lou Noble M y thing is, I’ve just always kinda been a lucky fella, you know. As a kid I didn’t have enough money to buy albums — I was buy ing bootleg cassettes, mix-tapes. I remember recording off the radio on a Saturday morning, which was kinda difficult, because even though they playing all the hits on 95 FM, you still had to clean the house. The earliest song I remember taping off the radio was Prince’s “When Doves Cry”. I don’t think my first inclinations were to the mix-tape, but I liked listening to the DJs: Chinese Laundry, Tweeze, and The Professionals. We had a sound system called Mount Zion One Sound System, and we used to listen to a lot of [sound] clash tapes. At the time, the only place you could get those in Trinidad was in the Drag 58 WWW.CARIBBEAN-BEAT.COM Mall [a collection of small craft stalls, packed tightly together, which once stood at the corner of Frederick Street and Queen Street in Port of Spain]. We used to play a lot of roots reggae. Even from that starting point, we were already like, yo, let’s try and get the freshest tunes. We were all about playing the records before anyone else had them. That was the thing that would make you stand out. It wasn’t like now, where you go to a torrent and you download the Beatport Top 40. It was a lot more competitive, and you had to be a lot more creative as well. Then, I linked up with Hypa Hoppa [DJ Kwesi Hopkinson] and became part of [hip-hop group] Radioactive. It was a movement. There were so many people involved, and there were people that were quote-unquote “a part of it,” you know. But the thing about a sound system or a DJ group or whatever you want to call it is that it could only really have one or two or three stars — you know what I mean? All ah we cyar be in that spotlight at the same time all the time. I kinda recognised that from early, and I’ve never really been a spotlight kind of person. I like the music and I like the vibes of it, you know what I mean? I like the lime and I like participating. I like choosing what tunes we should play and what dubs we should voice, and that type of thing. That’s where it all comes from, in terms of being a good selector, and even now that’s kinda like my thing. Sometimes it is still weird, because I am not really trying to get on stage and say: hey, allyuh, look meh! T he first time I saw Wes [Thomas Wesley Pentz, a.k.a. Diplo, founder of Major Lazer] deejay was in west London, YoYo’s at the Notting Hill Arts Club. We met that night. That was the first year I went for Carnival. I had some Jah Melody vocals for him. I remember standing outside, genuinely having no idea who I was going to meet, and then he came out and he grabbed us and he played the Machel Montano and Destra “It’s Carnival” road mix. I can’t take any credit for introducing anybody to anything. These fellas all have a rich musical background. What I did do was be a huge nuisance, and say all the time, you should work with these guys. Now we’ve done tracks with Machel Montano, Swappi, Bunji Garlin, Sherwin Winchester. Just this year we’ve hooked up with a bunch of guys and hopefully will keep working with them, build that relationship. they come to have a good time, they come to have a memorable experience, and you have to give them that every night. Major Lazer is a very close family. If you come backstage, we’re very lowkey. We’re very much to ourselves, and it’s cool, because we’re all friends as well, and we were friends before this and we’ll be friends after this. I think the cool thing about Major Lazer is that it allows people to do something outside their regular zone. Anybody who is singing music, or is in a band, or whatever it is, has a relationship with reggae music, with Caribbean music. I’m even doing a little production now, and it’s weird, because it’s still kinda new to me, and I am still very useless at it, but I think I work best in a collaborative format. I think I fancy myself a kind of P Diddy or Rick Rubin type of producer, where I have an ear for what sounds good. I know what arrangement will work, but I’m not really the best person to be sitting at a console pressing buttons and twisting knobs and putting on filters and things like that. I can sit with my buddy Richie [Beretta] or I can sit with my brother “I’ve never really been a spotlight kind of person. I like the music and I like the vibes of it, you know what I mean? I like the lime and I like participating” In the beginning it wasn’t as glamorous as some might think. It was a lot of hard work and dedication. I was still running the Corner Bar [formerly on Ariapita Avenue, Port of Spain], and I had to make a decision: I could either go out there and pursue this DJ thing, or I could stay in Trinidad and go back to IT consulting. I tell people I slept on every couch in every secondary market in America. It was a weird experience for me, because first of all I wasn’t really like eighteen years old, going, I wanna be a DJ. But when I had this opportunity present itself, I was just like: well, OK, cool. When you step out there and you look out and you see ten thousand people, or however many, Hanif [Tawab, a.k.a. Phat Deuce] and be like: here’s a song, this is what we should be working on, this is what I think it should sound like. I could write a drum pattern or I could write a synth line. I could come up with ideas, and then we could turn those ideas into songs. From the very first time I started travelling, I would meet kids who were doing amazing things, who were way more talented than I was, who were building scenes in their own towns, and they were making their own music and having a lot of fun doing it. With my label, Feel Up Recordings, these were the first people I signed. It’s stuff that we’re all passionate about and we think should be heard. The people that I work with are people that I am passionate about, because they are passionate about what they do. I’ve always been interested in meeting more people who are doing cool stuff. So it’s always like, yo, maybe there is something cool that we can do together. That’s always fun. n WWW.CARIBBEAN-AIRLINES.COM 59
  30. 30. Riddem rhyme Christmas skanking “Jingle Bells”? “Deck the Halls”? Ubiquitous on the radio come October, the usual Yuletide “classics” fill Garry Steckles with dread. But reggae and calypso musicians have created a whole genre of Christmas music rooted in the Caribbean and with a vibe to persuade any Scrooge Photograph by David Corio Jamaican producer Lee “Scratch” Perry gets festive WWW.CARIBBEAN-AIRLINES.COM 61
  31. 31. 62 WWW.CARIBBEAN-BEAT.COM aRRIVE “Christmas Day”, and the Maytals’ “Merr y Christmas”. The latter include a bunch of the great Jacob Miller’s previously hard-to-find reggae takes on Christmas (think “Deck the Halls” with lots of colly), and reggaefied standards by A-list vocalists such as Holt, Don Carlos, Peter Broggs, and Freddie McGregor. Speaking of A-list vocalists, it’s not widely known that a not-too-shabby reggae singer by the name of Marley — first name Robert — recorded a couple of Christmas songs during the Wailers’ early years with the aforementioned Clement Dodd’s The tried and trusted Christmas melodies are transformed when they’re recorded with a soca, reggae, or calypso riddim. And the equally tried and trusted lyrics take on a new life with a light rewrite introducing a touch of island wisdom or humour Studio One label. There’s a slow, semi-ska version of “White Christmas” (“not like the ones I used to know,” sings Bob) and the full-tilt ska “Sound the Trumpet” (the melody of which incorporates a straight steal of “Santa Claus is Coming to Town”), the highlight of a various-artists album titled Reggae Christmas from Studio One. T he other great hotbed of Christmas music in the English-speaking Caribbean is Trinidad. The annual celebration of parang, brought to the island from nearby Venezuela, is as much a part of Christmas in Trinidad as midnight mass, ham, turkey, and sorrel, and parang musicians, known as paranderos, trek through neighbourhoods serenading residents, who traditionally show their appreciation with seasonal food and drink. Trinidad also has an abundance of Christmas music on record by just about all of its leading artists, including Sparrow, Baron, Scrunter, Daisy Voisin, and Machel Montano. My personal favourite Trini Christmas album, though, is a venerable sixtune gem titled A Calypso Christmas, starring three vintage Christmas songs by the incomparable Lord Kitchener: “Christmas Greetings”, “Bring de Scotch for Christmas”, and “Father Christmas”, all showcasing the Grandmaster’s sublime melodies, and all touching on the ample supply of beverages, not of the non-alcoholic variety, on hand for the celebrations. Christmas with Kitch. I’ll drink to that. n nicholas laughlin I ’m not, I have to confess up front, a huge fan of traditional Christmas music. I’ve heard Bing Crosby sing “White Christmas” more than once too often, and I’ve heard dozens, if not hundreds, of people trying to do something new and different with the same song, probably the best known of all Christmas standards. The overkill doesn’t help, either. Come late October, no matter where you go, it’s virtually impossible to avoid “Feliz Navidad”, “Mary’s Boychild”, and “Deck the Halls”. I did get some light relief from these staples during a couple of Christmases spent in the United Arab Emirates not so long ago — but that’s another story. Despite these misgivings, most years, come lateish December, I’m perfectly happy to get into the spirit of the season — and no, I don’t just mean rum. I’m talking about Christmas music. Caribbean Christmas music, that is. The tried and trusted melodies are transformed when they’re recorded with a soca, reggae, or calypso riddim. And the equally tried and trusted lyrics take on a new life with a light rewrite introducing a touch of island wisdom or humour. My real favourites, though, are something that’s a rarity in most parts of the world: original Christmas music that embraces both the spirit of the occasion and the region it’s being celebrated in. Let’s start with reggae, and with one of Jamaican music’s greatest producers, songwriters, arrangers, singers, and studio maestros, Lee “Scratch” Perry. The song I’m thinking about is one that’s been on heavy rotation Chez Steckles, and not just at Christmas, for the past decade or so. It’s called, simply, “Merry Christmas, Happy New Year”, and it’s one of the greatest numbers ever recorded by Perry, whose CV includes more reggae classics than perhaps any producer other than Clement “Coxsone” Dodd, Scratch’s employer, teacher, and mentor in his apprenticeship era. The basic riddim’s downright hypnotic, the melody’s equally addictive, and Scratch’s quirky vocals are complemented by Sandra Robinson’s sweet alto. “Merry Christmas, Happy New Year” also happens to be included on a collection that I’d recommend as a one-stop shop for anyone wanting to add a collection of seriously good Christmas reggae to their music collection: Trojan’s Christmas Reggae box set. It features a smattering of original Christmas compositions and a slew of reggae versions that breath new life into the classics. Among the former are Yellowman’s “African Christmas”, the Ethiopians’ “Ding Dong Bell”, John Holt’s “Lonely This Christmas”, Alton Ellis’s “Merry Merry Christmas”, Desmond Dekker’s 64 Green days by the river Escapes 70 Float away Round Trip 76 Fifty shades of blue Offtrack Fishermen on the Paracauary River, Marajó
  32. 32. ESCAPE Green days by the river In the mouth of the mighty Amazon River is an island more than three times the size of Jamaica, home to unspoiled beaches, vast stretches of forest and savanna, and many, many water buffalo. Little known outside Brazil, the Ilha do Marajó is not quite cut off from the world — but it’s a good place, Nicholas Laughlin finds, to pretend that you are Photography by Nicholas Laughlin O n weekdays the Praia do Pasqueiro is almost deserted. But on even a somewhat overcast Sunday the neatly thatched huts lined up above the high-water mark are full of holidaymakers eating and drinking away the hot hours. Waiters ferry trays of drinks and food — fried fish, rice, salad — from kitchen sheds further back on the beach to the plastic tables and chairs clustered in the palm-thatch shade. Closer to the water’s edge, a handful of sunbathers recline in deckchairs, and a dreamyeyed couple canoodle under a large striped umbrella, sharing sweet nothings and plates of seafood. Youngsters prance on the wet sand and plunge into the shallow waves. Teenagers stride out into the warm water until it’s nearly deep enough to swim. Terns skitter along a sandbank. Far away and above, clouds sail along an oceanic horizon. But the slight tang in the breeze isn’t sea salt. It’s something greener, muddier, more vegetal. The Atlantic swells far out to the north, but its currents only rarely make their way to this beach. And the flotsam fragments scattered on the sand around my feet are bits of jungle detritus: twigs with glossy green leaves, the seed pods of unknown trees, a piece of palm trunk covered with four-inch thorns. The expanse of brown water that stretches as far as my eye can see is in fact the outflow of the world’s mightiest river. I am standing at the north-eastern tip of Marajó Island, in the mouth of the Amazon — the world’s largest island surrounded by fresh water. 64 WWW.CARIBBEAN-BEAT.COM Morning traffic on the Paracauary River WWW.CARIBBEAN-AIRLINES.COM 65

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