Reggae stars capture hearts

Reggae music has evolved in many different directions over the decades but at least the original foundation classics are still going strong.

John Holt

John Holt

A Red and White Affair promised the line up of John Holt, Jimmy Riley, his son Taurus Riley and Tami Chynn. No wonder a huge crowd turned up at the Lions Centre last Friday. Few were disappointed either because they all performed magnificently. Sponsored by Hot 104.1 FM radio and the Cayman Islands Football Association, the evening lived up to all expectations and promoter Olav Monteith deserves maximum props. Many in the crowd had made the effort to wear red and white and some had evidently blown a big chunk of their salaries to impress.

A round of local Cayman artists started the evening. They were Jah Shann, Paul Train and Chemel Wright. The Praise and Worship Group from the Vision Church of God also performed superbly. They consisted of Novelette Ferguson, Carl and Rina Cargill and Sherie Ebanks. Tami Chynn opened the international set with her sultry vocals that included the hit Hyperventilating.

Then the big boys stepped up. First Jimmy Riley, the veteran crooner, opened with the wonderful Love and Devotion, ran through a number of hits including Give Me Your Love and Everybody Needs Somebody before finishing with the anthem Good Conversation.

What a starter! That was worth the entrance fee alone. Taurus came on, fittingly clutching a bunch of red roses, distributed to an enthusiastic crowd. A few signature tunes, including his version of John Legend’s Stay With You and then the whole place erupted to She’s Royal. That song is already nearly a year old yet it’s still growing in popularity. Brilliant tune and very appropriate around Valentine’s Day. Women were in raptures as he rinsed every note and nuance. He’s obviously learnt the art of showmanship from dad.

All the while, the legendary tenor sax Dean Fraser was buzzing around playing and marshalling his tight 809 Band with the three Angels backing singers adding an extra dimension. Taurus invited the Angels to sing little solos and a couple of band members did cameos.

The crowd was sorry to see him go but when John Holt appeared in immaculate red suit and white shoes and opened with Love That Is Real, the legendary performer took it to the next level. There are few reggae artists with a body of work comparable to Holt’s and he spent the next hour proving it. Stick By Me was followed with such gems as Help Me Make it Through The Night, Wear You to the Ball and Never Never Never.

Holt bowed, blew kisses and disappeared. Thankfully, there was an encore, coming back with If I Was A Carpenter. The Rileys joined him on stage for the obligatory communal singing and arm waving of One Love. Monteith is putting on a similar show in a couple of months. It will be hard to top this one.