February 13, 2009
Blues Fest postponed

by Jamila Soso-Vincent 13.FEB.09

The 2009 Homecoming and Independence celebrations have gained an unlikely bedfellow – St. Vincent and the Grenadines Blues Festival.{{more}}

At a press conference held on Monday, February 9, Minister of Tourism Glen Beache announced that the Blues Festival, scheduled to take place in the first week of March, has been postponed until October 9 – 10, 2009.

Described as: “… the best produced show in St. Vincent and the Grenadines by far,” Beache explained that finance was the major issue in the decision to postpone the highly anticipated music festival. Most Caribbean islands have their own music festival, and some, because “their pockets run deeper,” are willing to pay artistes whatever price they request. For other islands with considerably smaller budgets, such as SVG, this makes it difficult to secure artistes. “With a lot of these artistes, when they hear you’re from the Caribbean, somehow the price tends to go up!” Beache pointed out. That price does not include airfare, hotel accommodation and rider fees for the artistes and their entourage.

The Minister related that the organising committee had given itself until last Friday to secure the artistes they had pinpointed. Unfortunately, that deadline was not met and the decision to postpone was cemented. “In terms of negotiations and availability, the calibre of artistes that we wanted we couldn’t get them booked,” he explained. Beache further revealed that the decision was being pondered long before it was realised that they would not be able to attain the desired artistes.

The Blues Festival will now coincide with Independence and Vincy Homecoming – something Beache believes can, “…add to the festivities in October.” He also believes that putting off the show will provide the organising committee ample time and opportunity to ensure that negotiations are satisfactory and that the standard of the show is maintained. “We want to… continue to improve on the quality we give to visitors and locals.” It is anticipated that festival numbers will surpass those of last year because persons who will be here for the two other October celebrations will also attend the festival.

BET Jazz, which provides coverage and books artistes for the Blues Festival, has quite understood about the date change, and even recommended it. “We have a good relationship with them,” Beache affirmed.

As related by the Minister, the format of the show will be altered somewhat; with only one regional artiste and one international artiste. Beache promised a strong Vincentian line-up, making sure to highlight the yearly rotation of local artistes. Having received many enquiries about bringing the band Mattafix (whose front man is Vincentian-raised Marlon Roudette), Beache expressed a keen interest in having the band perform in October. “We’d definitely like to have him on board!” Interest was also shown in having Kevin Lyttle and Gamal ‘Skinny Fabulous’ Doyle in the cast.

He also announced that the Arnos Vale 1 complex and Rawacou are being considered as venues. Although currently under renovation, Beache is hopeful that Rawacou will be completed enough to host the event – which would definitely eliminate venue costs from the budget.