Buju, Bunji, Rocks Record Breaking Jazz & Arts Show
By Toni Nicholas
If one was wondering whether the Friday Night start of the Saint Lucia Jazz & Arts climax weekend would surpass the success of the opening at Mindoo Phillip Park, in terms of numbers, well, all doubts were put to rest even before the start of the event.
On Friday May 12, in what was billed as Caribbean Fusion night, Soca and World Music acts Bunji Garlin & Faye Ann-Lyons as well as International Reggae Superstar Buju Banton took the Saint Lucia Jazz & Arts Festival stage by storm, with a double dose of headliners. And from all accounts, all before a record breaking crowd.
Leading up to the event the show was already the talk of the town, with locals and visitors alike clamouring for tickets for the event. And by 6 P.M. that evening the bumper to bumper traffic leading to the venue, proved that the interest was more than just talk and that Saint Lucia Jazz & Arts Festival lovers had endorsed the billing for “Fusion Night.”
From all reports, the event surpassed previous records set at past Jazz events here including that of Beres Hammond a few years ago with a sterling performance before a crowd of eight thousand and counting.
Friday’s Caribbean Fusion night, from all indications passed the ten thousand (10,000) mark in terms of attendance, long before the headliners had sung a single note.
The event started off with the Ark Band of Saint Lucia (based in Columbus Ohio) warming up the audience as patrons settled into their spots for the night. With a repertoire of originals, Bob Marley covers and creole influenced music, the band offered a cool blend of roots rock and culture.
As the crowd quickly swelled, a number of Saint Lucian acts, as well as DJ Hollywood HP, entertained the crowd. Reggae act Zionomi and Soca artistes Ricky T and Ezra the fun machine all proved their worthiness of being on the Caribbean Fusion stage too. Unfortunately, another homegrown act Meshach, had to be cut.
By the time Bunji Garlin and Faye-Ann with their full band hit the stage, waists were already well oiled, throats fully refreshed from the well-stocked bars and appetites filled. The pair simply had to bring on the food of life; music, to the crowd and they did just that and then some.
The band was amazing and the duo went over and beyond to entertain and interact with the crowd amidst their numerous hits. From the opening of Hard Fete, to past hits such as “Get on,” “Differentology” and “Truck on d Road,” as well as some Caribbean hits teasers, they had their audience fully engaged. A short tribute to Saint Lucian producers “Pen and Ace” who contributed to some of their hits, was also graciously received, as fans from near and far remained riveted to the stage performance from start to finish.
During the set changeover, many remained glued to their spot, while other refueled before the grand finale of Buju Banton.
This was Buju’s first performance in Saint Lucia in more than two decades and the wait was finally over and was worth it as well.
As the band struck the first notes, screams and shouts of joy echoed into the night as Buju Banton made his triumphant entry onto the stage dressed all in white. From there the hits started to pour –“Untold Stories,” “I wanna be loved,” “Cry no more,” “Buried Alive”, “Murderer”; they just kept on going on and on as fans sang and danced along.
What more can be said, except that the full has never been told about this amazing performer.
When Buju made his exit about 2 am, the audience was left satisfied and awe-struck, yet seemingly longing for more.
One of the best indicators of a great event is when there is no great rush towards the exit at the end and Friday was one such example. We have seen, time and time again, at past Saint Lucia Jazz & Arts events, where hundreds rush for the exit midway into the headline act’s performance, perchance to beat the traffic. Not so on Friday, most stayed till the end and hanged back long after the lights had dimmed on stage. Around the bars and food area they converged, sharing their positive reviews over drinks. And more than one-hour later, traffic was still in a gridlock heading out of Pigeon Island. Many did not seem to mind, as they had truly received their money’s worth at this history making event. Hats off to all involved including Events Company of Saint Lucia, the Saint Lucia Tourism Authority who collaborated with LIT Entertainment for making Fusion Night a resounding success.