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Monthly Archives: April 2015

  • Musician Phil Nessy Releases New Music Video

    In his earlier days, he was called Rabbie Ocean with one of his most popular tune, “Carry On.” These days, he goes by the name Phil Nessy and is a St. Lucian musician based in the USA steadily rising on the music scene.

    Nessy recently released a music video for the tune; “My Life” which coincides with a “Love Your Life” campaign which he is currently undertaking.

    The Hospital Road, Castries born musician describes himself as a simple individual who enjoys singing, football and swimming. Nessy proudly describes his musical influences as the best in the business. Just listening to his music for the first time, one can easily associate his vocal ability and writing talents with that of his musical influences: Peter Tosh, Michael Jackson, Bob Marley, Marvin Gaye and Barry White. Some of his fans also link his melodious tone to Dennis Brown, Bankie Banx, Tarrus Riley, Peter Tosh and Beresford Hammond.

    Wherever and whenever Nessy performs, he is sure to have the crowd dancing and singing along to his positive and inspirational vibes. To date, Nessy has released three albums – Forward, Playing and Unchained. He is already working on his fourth album which is due to be released this summer. See link for “My Life” video.

    www.philnessy.com

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  • The Legendary Lionel Belasco: A Calypso Founding Father

    The Victor Recording Company’s sessions in Trinidad, which produced the first recording of calindas (the chants accompanying carnival’s stick fighting ritual) sung by Jules Sims, are also noteworthy for the virtuosic piano playing of Lionel “Lanky” Belasco. Born in 1881, Belasco, the son of an African-Caribbean mother and a Sephardic Jewish father, is considered among the most important musician of calypso’s formative years. The leader of Belasco’s Renowned String Band, which performed at elite society events in Trinidad, Belasco was also an arranger and a composer in addition to his role as manager and promoter for the London Electric Theater, the first silent movie theater/concert hall in Port of Spain. Belasco utilized the melodies of folk songs he heard in his travels throughout the Caribbean and South America to help shape calypso’s early identity.

    belasco

    In August 1915 Belasco sailed to New York where, over the next seven years he would record numerous calypso instrumentals at various sessions with string bands for the Pace Phonograph Corporation’s Black Swan label. In 1923 Port of Spain piano dealer H. Strong Ltd, also an agent for Victor Talking Machine Company, organized a plan with Belasco to send Guyana born vaudevillian singer Phil Madison to New York to record several songs that were part of his stage act. Madison also played the cuarto (a four stringed mini guitar, featured prominently in Trinidad’s parang music) on these recordings with Belasco accompanying him on piano. Among their joint efforts was the very first recording of “Sly Mongoose”, a Jamaican folk song that found immense popularity when performed in Port of Spain’s calypso tents, as early as 1915. Throughout these recordings, Belasco’s engaging, genre blurring style incorporated Dixieland jazz, Venezuelan folk, European classical music, and the era’s ragtime (with Belasco often referred to as the Scott Joplin of calypso), accented by a distinctive Caribbean lilt that established calypso’s acoustic foundation and gave the music its initial push outside of Trinidad.

    All vocal calypsos recorded before 1927, with the exception of those cut by Julian Whiterose and Jules Sims in Trinidad in 1914, were sung by vaudevillians, not tent calypsonians. But that changed when Belasco teamed up with New York City based calypsonian Wilmoth Houdini (born in Port of Spain as Frederick Wilmoth Hendricks in 1881). Between 1927 through 1929 Belasco and Houdini recorded almost 30 calypso sides for the Victor Recording Company. Belasco is said to have made some 278 recordings of Caribbean songs between 1914 and 1945, more than any other bandleader or singer.
    In addition to recording, Belasco ran a piano store in New York City, made piano rolls, (a continuous roll of paper with perforations, representing notes, punched into it, which are used to operate player pianos) and regularly returned to Trinidad for carnival, to hear the latest songs by the island’s calypsonians. In 1945, Belasco made his very first recordings with calypsonians based in Trinidad; some songs that Belasco copyrighted were purportedly the work of other artists who did not have his understanding of standard music industry practices.
    Lionel Belasco continued to record, in the United States and England, until the mid 1960s. He passed away in June 1967

    Patricia Meschino

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  • The First Recorded Vocal Calypso: Iron Duke in the Land

    The First Recorded Vocal Calypso: Iron Duke in the Land
    Two years after the first instrumental calypsos were recorded in the Big Apple, sound engineers from the Victor Talking Machine Company (the forerunner to RCA records) located in Camden, N.J. sailed to Trinidad in 1914 with the intention of recording a full repertoire of the island’s indigenous music. The cosmopolitan population of the larger island of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago is reflected in various cultural expressions but especially through its music: the earliest recordings done in Trinidad included Spanish language parang (a seasonal music heard in the months leading up to Christmas, rooted in traditions from nearby Venezuela), Hindi language east Indian music, from the descendants of indentured servants brought to the island from India in 1845, and the clangorous rhythms made from striking metal objects with sticks or an open hand, the forerunner to the island’s world renowned steel bands. Of all of the homegrown
    styles heard in these early recordings, calypso would prove to be the most commercially viable.

    Several vocal calypsos were recorded during Victor’s initial session in Trinidad with “Iron Duke in the Land” by Henry Julian a.k.a. Julian Whiterose, widely regarded as the very first. Whiterose was a chantuelle, the lead vocalist of the Whiterose masquerade band who made the transition to (calypso) tent singer. By the early 1900s English words began replacing French patois in calypso; “Iron Duke In The Land”, a charmingly boastful declaration, was sung predominantly in English, accented with an occasional patois expression; Whiterose’s vocals were supported by a lively, somewhat jagged chorus of background singers epitomizing the chantuelle’s African derived call and response oral tradition. Just like the instrumentation heard in the 1912 recordings done in New York City by Lovey’s String Band (which included violins, upright bass, cuarto, guitar, flute) the initial recordings in Trinidad provided a link between late 19th/early 20th century dance music such as the English waltz, the Spanish paseo, and strains of American ragtime intertwined with calypso’s embryonic aural identity.

    Whiterose recorded additional calypsos for Victor including “Bayonet Charge by the Laws of the Iron Duke” and the French patois calypso “Belle Marie Coolie”; “Iron Duke in the Land” is thought to be the only single from that historic session to have survived the past 101 years.
    While in Trinidad Victor also recorded calindas, songs that accompany the ritual of stick fighting, sung by Jules Sims. Piano solos by Lionel Belasco were also part of this pioneering endeavor, the first of its kind for the English speaking Caribbean.

    The same year the U.K. based Columbia Graphaphone company ventured to Trinidad and conducted would be the final recording session for Lovey’s String Band: Lovey (George Bailey) passed away in the 1920s.

    Patricia Meschino

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  • The Early Calypso Stars Coming to New York City

    Calypso is a style of Afro-Caribbean music that originated in Trinidad and Tobago during the early to mid-20th century. The roots and rhythms can be traced back to West African Kaiso, along with the arrival of French planters and their slaves from the French Antilles in the 1700s. Today the musical art form can be heard internationally, with many Caribbean islands presenting their own interpretation of what a Calypso song should sound like.

    In the early 1900s the largest number of black immigrants settling in the Northeast (New York City) was from the English-speaking Caribbean. These immigrants were only 1.3 percent of the New York City population and faced intense racism, but by 1923 they became a 12.7 percent of the city’s population. Many of these immigrants were young, unmarried men. Calypso was not far behind.

    According to many sources, the first Calypso records were made in 1914 and the Calypsonians who visited New York recorded throughout the 1920s. The giants at that time were bards the likes of Johnny walker, Sam Manning, Wilmoth Houdini, Atilla the Hun and Roaring Lion. New York became the Mecca for calypso away from Trinidad and Tobago. United States record labels Decca and Bluebird sent engineers with mobile recording devices to Trinidad annually and would record material that would later be released in cities globally. London was a major market at the time for calypso hits, but New York always was the home away from home for the genre. Atilla, Lion, King Radio, Lord Beginner and Growling Tiger were all recording in New York City, immersing themselves in the “Yankee” culture. It is important to note that by them immersing themselves on this side of the ocean, they were introducing the Caribbean to a new way of life causing the start of the Caribbean migration we see today.

    Calypso told of the struggles of a people. The New York recordings saw the same stars almost presenting a new way of living through songs. Calypso had arrived and the cultural landscape of New York City would never be the same.

    by Keran Deterville.

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  • Calypso-The First Recorded Music From the English Speaking Caribbean

    Calypso is often cited as the first genre to sell over a million copies: Harry Belafonte’s “Calypso” album released on RCA Records in 1956 holds that distinction. But the New York born, Jamaica raised Belafonte wasn’t an authentic calypsonian, a controversial issue addressed by Belafonte and others in the brilliant 2004 documentary “Calypso Dreams”. Belafonte’s “Calypso” was released more than 40 years after the very first calypso records were made-in New York City-but calypso’s lineage goes back much further, as the organically developed original soundtrack for the world’s ultimate street party, carnival in the southern Caribbean island of Trinidad.

    The result of some 300 years of cultural interactions between African, Spanish, French and English traditions, Trinidad carnival’s celebrations are rooted in the elaborate masquerade balls staged prior to the Catholic Lenten season by wealthy French landowners and their slaves. Under the slave master’s restrictive eye, the Africans were permitted their own celebrations, referred to as jammette (in Trini vernacular jammette means outside the circle of respectability) carnival, which featured chanting, drumming, dancing and masquerading as African folkloric characters or as mockeries of their colonial subjugators.
    Following the 1838 Abolition of Slavery, the rituals of the freed slaves permanently altered the identity of the staid French celebrations. The call and response vocals of the chantuelle (French Creole for singer) led bands of masqueraders in stick fighting and cane burning rites. String instruments were added to the satirical and oftentimes risqué French Creole jammette songs, which became known as calypso. By the early 1900s, English language lyrics had been incorporated into calypso, which was now performed in makeshift structures called tents, which, to this day remain annual carnival attractions.

    In May 1912, five years before the first jazz recordings were made, Lovey’s String Band traveled from Port of Spain, Trinidad, to New York City with the specific intention of making records. Founded sometime in the 1890s by Lovey (b. George Bailey or Baillie), a violinist, Lovey’s String Band was reportedly Trinidad’s most popular act of the era performing a broad selection of dance music usually at elite dances or fancy masquerade balls.
    According to a report in the Port of Spain Gazette, Lovey’s String Band departed Trinidad in May 1912 and seemingly spent most of June and early July in New York City where they recorded several sides, all instrumentals, for the Victor Talking Machine Company and the Columbia Phonograph Company. Many of these instrumentals had Spanish titles including “Manuelita”, “Cavel Blanco”, “666 Trinidad Paseo”, “Oil Fields-Trinidad Paseo” and “Mary Jane (Mari-juana)”(marijuana was still legal in the U.S. at the time of this recording, although by 1914 its usage would be restricted in several states, including New York, a precursor to the plant’s illegal status at the federal level in 1937). The Spanish influence, especially from nearby Venezuela, on Trinidad’s string music as heard in Lovey’s recordings, presented multi cultural marketing strategies for Victor and Columbia Records.

    Ninety years after these sessions took place, in 2002, American ethnologist Dick Spottswood unexpectedly came across Lovey’s recording of “Mango Vert” (adapted from a traditional Trinidadian folk melody) for Columbia. Spottswood’s discovery led to the National Recording Board of the Library of Congress selecting “Mango Vert” for preservation, in perpetuity, in the United States’ inaugural “Top 50″ list of recordings.

    While the 1912 recordings by Lovey’s String Band bear little resemblance to the calypsos that would be recorded throughout the 1930s and 40s, which ushered in the first calypso craze in the United States, these recordings remain significant in bringing exposure to calypso beyond Trinidad’s shores, while authenticating its status as the first recorded music of the English speaking Caribbean.

    By Patricia Meschino

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  • Going Green for Carnival

    Tropicalfete inc 2015 Labor Day Presentation for Brooklyn Labor Day Carnival will be going Green more information coming soon.

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  • The Big Apple’s Core Relationship to Calypso: A TropicalFete Immigration Heritage Week Special

    The years 2012 and 2014 marked the 100th anniversaries of two important developments in the trajectory of Caribbean music: in 1912 Lovey’s String Band traveled to New York City from Port of Spain, Trinidad and made the first instrumental recording designated as calypso; two years later, the first calypso record with vocals was recorded in Port of Spain by Julian Whiterose, for New York City based label Victor Records. So began the close, collaborative, musical relationship between Port of Spain and New York City.

    Calypso Project1
    In observance of New York City’s 11th annual Immigrant Heritage Week, April 17-April 24, which celebrates the contributions of New York City’s diverse immigrant communities, Tropicalfete Inc, a non profit Caribbean cultural arts organization, is pleased to announce their multi media program which will highlight the contribution calypso music, created on the island of Trinidad and popularized throughout the Caribbean, has made to New York City’s diverse cultural fabric. Conversely, Tropicalfete will also examine the role New York City has played in calypso’s evolution through the efforts of record labels, concert promoters, artists and entrepreneurs who call New York City their home.
    On April 21th, veteran journalist Patricia Meschino and journalist/artist Keran “Fimber” Deterville will start at the beginning, 103 years ago, when the very first calypso record was made, and through a series of articles, songs, and related information, to be published on Tropicalfete.com, various social networks and other media platforms, they will work their way through the decades of the music’s development, offering invaluable conversations about the New York City area record labels that specialized in calypso recordings; the prestigious Manhattan venues such as the Village Vanguard that regularly featured calypso shows; the calypsonians that became big stars in the Big Apple; calypso’s celebrated run on Broadway; the immigration challenges faced by Trinidadian calypsonians at Ellis Island and so much more.
    Tropicalfete’s partner in this important endeavor is popular radio personality Trevor Wilkins, host of the “The Trevor Wilkins Calypso Show”, the world’s longest continually running calypso radio program, which has been broadcast since 1997 on WNYE (91.5 FM), a non-commercial radio station operated by the NYC Media Group, a division of the New York City Department of Information, Technology and Telecommunications.
    Tropicalfete Inc is proud to present this program for Immigrant Heritage Week 2015, which began on April 17th, which was the day, 108 years ago, when the greatest number of immigrants from sailed into Ellis Island to start new lives in the United States.

    Because the calypso story, and New York City’s relationship to that narrative, continues to evolve more than a century after it began, Tropicalfete’s curated segments will extend beyond Immigrant Heritage Week and will run throughout Caribbean American Heritage Month (June) with supplemental programs to be created for broadcast on New York City television and radio stations.
    For further information, please email: info@tropicalfete.com

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  • On 2 Stellar Nights, Reggae Star Omari Banks Takes to the Stage of Moonsplash 2015

    On 2 Stellar Nights, Reggae Star Omari Banks Takes to the Stage of Moonsplash 2015

    omari

    On 2 stellar nights under the starry sky of the beautiful island of Anguilla, reggae star Omari Banks took to the familiar welcoming stage of Moonsplash 2015 at The Dune Preserve.

    This year marked the 25th anniversary for the the longest running independent music festival in the Eastern Caribbean which has become a top showcase for vintage reggae acts and emerging talent. Omari first hit the Moonsplash stage as a young child alongside the festival creator, his father the legendary Bankie Banx, but on the 25th anniversary, Omari took the stage on night 1, the international night as the bonfaide reggae star he has become.

    Omari gave patrons an hour of pure musical delight by belting such hits as “Move On”, “Jehovah Message” with his cousin Lateef Banks”, “Still the Youth You Blame”, “Run Around”, “Oh Africa”, “Bruised Inside”, “Unafraid”, “We’ve Seen It All” joined by his father Bankie and to the delight of the crowd, “Prince of Darkness” the father, son favorite collaboration. Omari was also joined on stage by local rapper Raskim Browne to perform his blockbuster hit single “No Point To Prove”.

    Third World’s band member Cat Coore called on Omari to joined them onstage to perform “No Point to Prove,” An extraordinary and much successful Moonsplash by all accounts, Omari reflects “Moonsplash 25 was epic, it will go down as one of the best Moonsplash on record. I am overjoyed about it alll, it was fitting for this momentous occasion. I know my Dad and the entire family working Infront and behind the scenes is very happy. I enjoyed every second!”

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  • Grammy Award Winner Lady Saw Controversial Hit Single “Scamma” (Hot Steel Riddim) Out Now on iTunes!

    Grammy Award Winner & Certified Platinum Lady Saw Hit Single “Scamma” (Hot Steel Riddim)

    Digital Vibez Entertainment produced single “Scamma” performed by Grammy award winner Lady Saw is now available on all major digital platforms such as iTunes, Rhapsody, Amazon and Google Play among many others.

    The outspoken dancehall Queen who sings “Mi want a scamma man from mobay .Cah mi hear she dem money se a waymi woulda gi him my body every day cah mi know she money afi pay.” has received some scrutiny by several radio stations who deemed the subject too controversial to air. The witty Lady Saw cleared the air and took time to explain the lyrical content, she explained “I record the song “Scamma”, because scamming is a big thing right now. I came up with the title after performing at a show in Mobay,”

    “Hot Steel Riddim” also features multi-award winner Capleton “Stay Suh”, Bramma “Fashion Police”, up and coming artist from Capleton’s David House crew Ffurious with “Out A Me Life”, rising star Da’Plan “Waste A Time” and CeeGee “Gweh” and will be available on iTunes in the spring.

    lady saw

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  • “Supernatural” from Billboard Artist iakopo Releases on iTunes Along with Lyrics video

    “Supernatural” from Billboard Artist iakopo Releases on iTunes Along with Lyrics video

    “Supernatural”, the highly anticipated single from Billboard artist, iakopo, has officially released along with a visually appealing lyrics video.

    Although it’s simply a lyrics video, the teasing visuals follow a beautiful island girl romping around the beach, flowing with the mesmerizing melodies of “Supernatural”. Produced by Gramps Morgan (Morgan Heritage) under his DaDa Son label, “Supernatural” is iakopo’s first official release following his success in Japan with singles “Tonite” “Whatcha Say” and many more.

    After spending months in Jamaica recording and soaking in the vibes (Watch iakopo in Jamaica Documentary HERE), iakopo is back in Japan preparing for his annual “Island Fever” event and a few promotional appearances. In late April, iakopo will return to Jamaica for the premiere of the “Supernatural” official video.

    “Supernatural” is now available on itunes.

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  • St. Lucia Jazz & Arts Festival with a Difference

    Saint Lucia Jazz and Arts Festival 2015 with A Difference

    What started out as a small annual festival to promote and increase the tourism industry in Saint Lucia, has now evolved into an annual mecca for thousands of music revelers scattered globally. Over the years the Saint Lucia Jazz & Arts Festival has not only cemented thousands of solid friendships, but has increased the fan base of many performing artistes at local, regional and international levels.

    According to Director of Tourism Louis Lewis “for more than two decades, the Saint Lucia Jazz and Arts festival has featured legendary names in music and this year’s line-up is no exception.”

    The festival, now in its twenty-fourth year has continued to increase and expand its programme. Through the creative works of the Saint Lucia Tourist Board, this year’s festival focuses not only on the performing artistes, but will again incorporate ways of showcasing the island’s rich heritage by fusing an arts and educational component to the festival.

    With the introduction of an Arts Village which will be staged in the north of the island between two major shopping malls at Rodney Bay, it is expected to highlight the artistry of the many local artisans from across the island alongside a cultural explosion of dancers and musicians performing spontaneously for live audiences.

    A fashion show with a difference ‘Hot Couture’ in its third year will be staged displaying exciting clothing lines from top designers both local and foreign.

    The Festival will again place the spotlight on the development of Music, Dance and Culinary Technical Skills through a series of training workshops. These workshops will be conducted by professionals in their respective fields before and after the festival, for both beginners and seasoned practitioners.

    Community oriented events, which play a vital role in the Saint Lucia Jazz & Arts Festival, will be announcing their various exciting line ups in the coming days. The line ups are expected to include creole music alongside many other genres that are electrifying.

    In 2015 the free interactive mobile App has been totally revamped. Available via Google Play and Apple App Store, the App connects smartphones and tablet users with Android or ISOS Powered ‘ON THE GO’ devices to the complete festival line up, show dates and venues among other things.

    With collaborations, partnerships and new initiatives, this year’s festival promises to be a festival with a difference!

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  • World Music Caribbean Forum April 18, 2015

    World Music Promotions
    Presents
    World Music Caribbean Forum I 2015
    New York, New York

    world music

    Professional Development
    World Music Management 101
    Tailored for Caribbean Artists

    IIDEA Group LLC
    347 West 36th Street, Suite 605
    New York, NY 10018

    Saturday April 18, 2015
    TIME: 3PM-5PM

    Registration Deadline April 10, 2015
    http://www.wmcfnyc.org/registration-form.html

    “Women doing it for themselves”

    Panelist: Alice Backer, Social Media Professional, Lawyer, Curator of La Caye Musically Thursday & Moderator of this forum; Shirley Menard, Entertainment Lawyer, Label Manager of Jatta Records & Artist Manager; S. Madison Bedard, Branding & Marketing Expert: Consumer Package Goods and Entertainment; Cynthia Karaha, Founder of World Music Promotions, Artist General Manager: BélO & Feet of Rhythm Dance company & Artist Career Developer.

    Event Manager: Nadia Dieudonne

    Panel Discussion Outline:
    Are you an artist from the Caribbean looking to perform at the World Music level, but not sure how to manager yourself while looking for a manager? Are you a manager who needs some guidance on how to get your artist moving in the right direction? This workshop will give you some insight on how to navigate through the complexities of the genre / sub-genre of World Music and where to situate your music. This panel of experts will present some real life challenges with practical solutions. You will be given helpful tips on how to promote and manage your music more efficiently.

    Topic of discussion
    *Management, marketing, promotions, social media and the legal side of the World Music entertainment industry.
    *Navigate through the complexities of the genre / subgenre of World Music
    *Practical tactics that will help artists to find their niche.

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