KAABOO adds local bands to festival lineup

Rico Rolando will perform on the KAABOO stage. - Photo: Sam Lancaster

Derrick McKay thinks KAABOO will be good for his punk band and a handful of other Cayman-based groups that were chosen last Saturday to perform at the two-day festival in February.

Playing in front of 10,000 people, he said, will force the local bands, which he says are already good, to push themselves to be even better.

“I think it’s an amazing platform,” Mr. McKay said of the festival. “Now we need to step our game up. I think it will push us to work harder at what we do.”

Mr. McKay is a member of Suckerbox, which was chosen, along with Rico Rolando, The Lion Fish and Shameka Clarke, to perform at KAABOO following a battle of the bands contest Saturday at Royal Palms Beach Club. Danny Loops was also picked to be part of the lineup for the Bask Night Club on the first night of the festival, where a mix of local and imported DJs will perform.

Henry Smith is the manager and drummer for The Lion Fish. He said the band is entering a new phase because of KAABOO.

“Before, we were just doing cover versions of songs,” Mr. Smith said. “This made us look at becoming songwriters. [Band member] Jason Brown is a very talented songwriter. We’re showcasing his songs.”

The Lion Fish formed four years ago almost on a whim, when a group of colleagues came together to play the company Christmas party. Since then, the band, whose seven members play a range of music from reggae to rock, has played some of the island’s big events, such as Taste of Cayman. KAABOO is different, he said.

“It’s great to be on the same bill as some of these great performers,” Mr. Smith said, adding that it’s possible the headliners might draw people influential in the music business. “You never know who might be in the audience and what it might lead to.”

If he does not meet any movers and shakers, he’s at least looking forward to the chance to hang with the stars.

Members of Suckerbox, from left, Derrick McKay, Reno Ciantar, Robert Neesome and Mark McTaggart.

“There’s some legends,” he said of the KAABOO lineup, “Bryan Adams, Duran Duran, Counting Crows, Blondie. I won’t be ashamed to say I’ll be bringing my autograph book and trying to take a few selfies.”

Mr. Rolando sees the festival as an opportunity for local bands to get broader attention.

“It’s a great showcase for Cayman talent,” he said.

He will be showcasing some new work. Until recently, Mr. Rolando said he was playing mostly covers of Top 40 rhythm and blues. Now he’s working on his own material and expects to release an album in May 2019.

“I’m going to be writing some new material and performing three new songs in the set,” he said.

Between now and February, he said, his eight-member band will be keeping sharp by playing other local gigs. In December, they will play for Cayman Fashion Week.

Mr. McKay said Suckerbox will also be pushing hard to prepare for the big gig, even writing a couple of new songs for their set.

“I think it will enhance the music scene,” he said of KAABOO’s influence. “We’ve got some very talented people here. It’s a matter of putting it all together. KAABOO is kind of the fire to get things going.”

The festival will be Feb. 15 and 16. More information is available at www.kaaboocayman.com.

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