Summer Caravan IV: Jamaican Independence Jam
Yesterday as I was sitting in a cafe on Vanderbilt Ave in Brooklyn I saw two or three locals sporting green-black-and-yellow colors on their backs, or flags waving from the windows of their cars. I wondered what all the fuss was about until I remembered that it was Jamaican Independence Day. Later at the Canal Room, I joined a crowd of a couple hundred for Independence Day Reminisce, with performances by several Jamaican artists. The vibe was somewhere between a Negril dance hall and an open air roots reggae show, folks wearing white flowing garb bordered with red, green and yellow. Nuff dub poets and singers in the crowd. Jamaican/British/Brooklyn songstress Marcia Davis played for two hours, backed by a nasty Antiguan bass player known as Iobi, a dope West African drummer named Abu, Belizean keyboard player Eugene Catoose, a Japanese guitarist and soaring I-trees-like harmonies by her lovely backup singers. I appreciated the simple, insightful lyrics on "You Don't Know How to Love Me" and this one sparse tune with Nyabhingi style drumming about being homesick for your homeland.
Jamaica turned 44 years free on August 6. The celebrations continue tomorrow with an event at City Hall sponsored by the City Council and being promoted by my friends at the African Magazine. Here's the invite from the Editor:
"To my Carib New York gals, Jamaicans and admirers of Jamaican culture are
invited to attend this celebration of the island's independence from Great Britain. Activities include a screening of filmmaker Morenike Olabunmi's documentary
about African cultural continuities in Jamaica entitled Etu and Nago: The Yoruba Connection." -Ngwam-bho Nkweti
I have never met a group of people more creative or entreprenurial than the Jamaicans who I know. So this week I'm bigging up Jamaica and its flag, the colors of which symbolize that "the sun shineth, the land is green and the people are strong and creative.”