Even as hurricane Tomas stopped by, Dominica, or the Commonwealth of Dominica, to use its official name, once more hosted one of the world’s most exciting music festivals from Oct. 29 – 31.
Now in its 14th year, the “Annual World Creole Music Festival” – originally scheduled for three nights until Hurricane Tomas cancelled the show for the second night – brought together artistes representing various musical genres such as zouk, kompas, cadence-lypso, and other indigenous styles from East and West Africa, which were intertwined with other sounds of the Caribbean, namely: reggae, soca, calypso and rhythms.
For the nature lover, Dominica is the ideal location. When you add more than an ample dose of the best music in the world, “the Nature Island” personifies the word paradise. Before the start of the musical fare, attendees at the festival were able to enjoy some of the most natural and untouched sites to be found anywhere in the world.
The island, not to be confused with the Dominican Republic, is situated between Martinique and Guadeloupe in the arc of islands called the Lesser Antilles. It is the youngest island in the Caribbean, where erosion has yet to dull the sharpness of her terrain.
A visit to the countryside is breathtaking. One immediately becomes captivated by the rolling hills, secluded coastlines and virgin forests. For the most daring of travelers, a visit to mountain peaks reaching as high as 5,000 feet, would provide an amazing view of energetic rivers running vigorously to the sea. The landscape is also punctuated by 12 major waterfalls, which exist in harmony with six varieties of tropical forest. Intermingled with this fascinating landscape is some of the most varied fauna to be found in the Caribbean.
Visitors are usually amazed to find out that Dominicans, while cherishing and protecting the serene environment surrounding them, are equally adept at partying. The music festival provided the required respite for this purpose.
Patrons received with tremendous appreciation the performance of one of reggae music’s icons, the venerable Luciano, who was part of the Friday night line-up. This evergreen performer had patrons eating out of his hands with such memorable hits as: “Lord Give Me Strength,” “Over the Hills” and “It’s Me Again Jah.”
If Luciano provided spiritual inspiration and philosophical guidance to his fans, Jah Cure in his own style, infused a touch of romance to the proceedings. He caused the ladies in the audience to call his name with each note that he sang, ever so sweetly. From the invitation to “Call on Me,” he went on to entice with other soothing songs such as, “Never Find” and “To Your Arms of Love,” which won him critical and popular acclaim.
It was not lost on Luciano that he left one of his fans breathless, and decided to quench her thirst by offering her his bottle of water, which she proudly accepted and openly drank after him and got cheers from the audience. Such was his effect on the women.
Like wine, which gets better with age, British reggae group Steel Pulse lived up to its reputation as a crowd pleaser when it was their turn on stage.
The organizers were out to please the different musical tastes and moods of those who journeyed to Dominica and those who call the island their home. They did not disappoint as Triple Kay, the band known as “The Little Band” had the audience going wild with its burst of energy music, and WCK had everyone gyrating to the hot tempo.
In keeping with its theme of presenting Creole music to this franco-phone influenced island, Les Aiglons, a classic Guadeloupian band of the 70’s cadence era entertained the audience with hit songs like “Bidimbol,” “Mes Illusions” and “Le Cerveau. This band from the French Antilles borrows heavily from popular Haitian music from the 1950s to the early 1980s.
The morning after each late night of imbibing sweet world music patrons renew and reinvigorate themselves by taking a plunge into Screw’s Sulphur Spa, one of the most famous hot water springs on the island. If you ask any of the locals what to do while you are on the island, a trip to Screw’s is likely to be first on the list.