@ Pigeon Island, St. Lucia Jazz Festival
8 May 2009
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Biography to be updated.
As the crowd started to drift away after the Amy Winehouse shambles,
I wanted to grab the microphone and plead with the audience to stay
and see my all-time favourite group from the Caribbean.
Little time was wasted before they appeared on stage with the still
beautiful lead female vocalist ‘Jocelyne Béroard’
in their midst. Band members stood resolute, peering into the large
crowd as if they wanted to apologise to each individual patron for
the previous ‘unprofessional performance’. They knew
they had to boost the crowd from the get-go.
The regional crowd had surged forward quickly, cheering (with relief?)
as they sprung into the vibrant zouk that they are so well known
for. ‘Ooh la, ooh ley’ had them singing along loudly
as they waved and swayed. I looked around and saw some of those
who were leaving suddenly turn around and gradually stop in their
Kassav band members’ language of preference is French/Creole.
However, this has not limited their artistic vision, which remains
largely carnival-like and very danceable. Kassav are a class act
and always have been – no need to be exhibitionists to gain
patron approval here, or anywhere in the Caribbean (as far as I
know). The male singer alone, with his deep throaty voice, sends
shivers up the spine.
Every kassav song is an anthem here. Patrons sang along throughout
- almost drowning out band members. At one point the male singer
shouted out dance instructions to the crowd, it was amazing to see
this huge swell of people moving in unison - to the right, then
the left in zouk-style fashion.
Kassav finished with their inevitable ‘Zouk la sé
sèl médikaman nou ni’ (zouk is the medicine
for us all), a huge cheer erupted from the audience which seemed
to go on for ever as they took their regal bow stage front. This
medicine had worked.
Carole Clemesha & Robin Francis
© Michael Valentine Studio Ltd.