Battle of the bands brings out the best

Big Eye Squirrel and Andrea Rivera were chosen as the two local acts to grace the stage at this year’s Jazz Fest.

Competing in the Battle of the Bands on Tuesday night at the Harquail Theatre, some of the best bands in the Cayman Islands performed a three-song set for a panel of judges including Donna Myrie-Stephen, Fred Sambula and Casandra Hibbert.

The event was well attended and featured acts such as Big Eye Squirrel, Love Culture, Bona Fide, Andrea Rivera featuring Los Tropicanos, the ReGeneration Band, Jamesette Anglin and band and the Earl La Pierre family.

Contestants were judged on a list of criteria that included performance, arrangement, audience participation, originality and vocal clarity.

Three other bands will be chosen by the Cayman Music and Entertainment Association and announced shortly.

Some musicians have voiced concerns about the Battle of the Bands process and questioned the integrity of having musicians chosen by musicians due to the conflict of interest. Some say they would love to have seen the Department of Tourism have neutral persons make such choices and not musicians, who could simply choose themselves.

However, Gary Dominguez of the Department of Tourism said the process was still evolving and as a result of this year’s constructive criticism, next year the department will look at whether the process needs more tweaking.

Cayman Music and Entertainment President Jean-Eric Smith said he was pleased to see the talent come out and represent so well.

He added that the Battle of the Bands was a great way for the Department to choose bands they would probably otherwise be unaware of.

Ms Rivera gleamed with excitement. ‘I am so surprised. Everyone did so well,’ she said. ‘I am just grateful and eagerly looking forward to representing Cayman at such a special event.’

Stuart Forster, one of the members of the band Big Eye Squirrel, had a simple message. ‘See you at the Jazz Fest.’