Local Vibes
February 5, 2010
Bequia Music Fest hailed a success

“The best kept secret in the Caribbean!”

These were the words of one delighted cruiser visting the Grenadines to attend the Bequia Mount Gay Music Fest for the first time. “I’ve been up and down all the islands,” she explained, “and to all their music events, but this one here in Bequia has to be the best of all – and the best kept secret in the Caribbean!”{{more}}

That sentiment was repeated throughout the weekend as music lovers from all over the world, from neighbouring Caribbean countries, from Bequia, the mainland and the Grenadines came by sea and air to enjoy a long weekend of top-class musical entertainment. Those who could not attend enjoyed a live broadcast and Internet stream of all the performances on Cross County Radio and Nice Radio, reaching a truly global audience.

Attendance at the four-day event was noticeably up from last year. Music Fest Co-Directors “Uncle” Louis O’Neil and Wilfred Dederer put together a programme of music which catered for all tastes and all ages, ranging from blues to jazz to reggae to hip hop to rock to soca. The event was attended by Minister of Culture Rene Baptiste, Tourism Authority COO Faylene Findlay-Scrubb and Director of Tourism Vida Bernard.

“It was fantastic!” said Findlay-Scrubb. “The appeal for domestic & international tourism on Bequia is incredible. The Music Fest offers visitors to the island a superb blend of music, as well as the opportunity to indulge in one’s passion, be it the cuisine or just soaking up the sun at Lower Bay or Friendship Bay while taking in the performances.”

After Thursday’s opening night at the Frangipani Hotel when the Elite Steel Orchestra from St. Vincent played to a record crowd, the event moved to the main venue in Lower Bay where the event organizers and the management of De Reef had created an impressive entertainment venue with high-tech, all black stage and an informal outdoor liming area complete with a huge projection screen which relayed the acts live to those who preferred to sit under the stars.

The Friday night performance of Mustique Blues Festival’s Dana Gillespie and her London Blues Band with guests Ian Siegal, Chris Jagger and Dino Baptiste has already been described by some as the best ever. The appreciative audience of visitors, yachtsmen and residents of Bequia and St. Vincent enjoyed outstanding performances all round, topped by an extraordinary duet by keyboard maestros Dino Baptiste and Julien Brunetaud who tempted the other musicians back on stage for a stunning impromptu encore finale just before 2am.

Basil Charles’ Mustique Blues musicians generously volunteer their performance in Bequia in exchange for a substantial donation by the event organizers to the Basil Charles Education Foundation.

Music Fest sponsor Bequia Beach Hotel provided the perfect venue on Saturday afternoon for a relaxing afternoon of jazz and blues by the beach under the shade of the palm trees, led by Louis O’Neil and his partner Jan Smith. With no admission charge and the perfect setting to draw the crowds, over two hundred people gathered to eat, drink and enjoy the music.

Saturday night saw the climax of the event with outstanding performances Amanda Gooding, Kyron Baptiste, Jamaica’s TRN band, Bequia’s world famous Papa Winnie, legendary guitarist Toby Armstrong with the Mount Gay Blues Band, and the hottest new band from Barbados, NEXCYX. This extraordinary group of young musicians fully lived up to their reputation with a thrilling closing act shortly after midnight. Lead singer Mahalia Phillips – and indeed the whole ensemble – displayed the kind of talent which leaves the audience in no doubt that they have seen future superstars in the making!

Sunday afternoon at De Reef in Lower Bay saw a relaxed and delighted crowd enjoy the Mount Gay Surprise Party with great performances by the Denzil Bacchus Blues Band from St. Vincent joined by award-winning guest blues pianist David Maxwell, Bequia’s Kings of String, The Country Relatives and the Bequia Blues Band. As the sun went down there was a surprise performance by NEXCYX before the closing set by the hugely popular RoadHouse from Barbados with a guest appearance by Toby Armstrong for a session of duelling guitars with the band’s lead guitarist Scott Zimmerman and acoustic guitarist Garvey Griffith.

Widely declared by those who attended to be “the best ever”, the Bequia Mount Gay Music Fest clearly has a winning formula, bringing together great musicians for a four day weekend of great music.

The Bequia Tourism Association and the Bequia Mount Gay Music Fest organisers wish to thank headline sponsor Mount Gay Rum (Barbados), and major sponsors Basil Charles, Karib Cable, CRS Music & Media, Barbados, SVG Tourism Authority, Hairoun Beer, Admiralty Transport, IK TV, Quik-Print (St. Vincent), Bequia Beach Hotel, Frangipani Hotel and De Reef, Bequia. Thanks, too, go to all the Bequia and St. Vincent businesses and individuals who supported the Music Fest in so many ways, and to all the musicians who made the 2010 Bequia Mount Gay Music Fest one which will be remembered for years to come.