Organizers of this year’s World Creole Music Festival (WCMF) in Dominica, Oct. 29 to 31, will follow the pattern of past festivals by offering a mix of the Caribbean’s best known acts: Haitian Kompas stars T Vice, Nu Look, and Kreyola, Jah Cure and Luciano from Jamaica, and soca from Edwin Yearwood and Krosfyah from Barbados, alongside several generations of local musicians. Past masters to have appeared include Tabou Combo, Kassav, and La Perfecta.
The centerpiece of the 2010 celebration, to be held at Windsor Park stadium, is marked by a rare opportunity to hear two legends of modern Creole music: Les Aiglons of Guadeloupe and Exile One of Dominica, innovators who paved the way for current stars of creole music, of which Jocelyne Labylle, Princess Lover, Stefan Ravor and Costuleta — whose sound recalls Ivorian Coupe Decale,
Creole Fest 2009
While the untamed nature of Dominica — its misty mournful peaks, cool rushing streams, hot mineral springs and rugged shoreline beckon to the adventurous year-round, when the island unfurls its bright Creole patterns, the pulsing rhythms known to the Antilles come to the forefront and the city streets throb with its sounds and fill with music fans as the ideal time to visit Dominica
We arrived from Martinique on a night so dark the sky was indistinguishable from the mountainous coastline, lights twinkling on this two dimensional black canvas were not stars but from homes clinging to the mountains above Roseau. Just as random as the twinkling lights were the peeping sounds of the tree frogs that pierced the darkness after the hour-and-a-half journey. As we disembarked, the smell of the damp, fertile earth mingled with foods grilling, stirred from the unconscious memories of past visits. It was the pleasure of the traveler, a foreigner, who savored the moment as the locals rushed off to gather bags and meet friends, oblivious to the mystery of the moment.
Notwithstanding the new stadium and the renovated airport, visitors will find the island pretty much as they remember it, So it is with the Creole culture, ordinary and constant as Miranda’s wood smoked souse and the call of the women in the market in Roseau where we enjoyed our first cold Kubuli beer, that is, until the moment that corresponded with our arrival, when Dominica pauses each year to celebrate itself.
Arriving before the weekend? LIME Creole in the Park, October 25-28, from noon to 7:00 p.m. in the bucolic setting of the botanical gardens precedes the WCMF. The free event allows guests to take in family activities, traditional creole foods, dance, a musical line-up more comprehensive than the festival and no less compelling.
From youths performing quadrilles to a jing-ping band, to Queen Ifrica singing “Lioness on the Rise” and “Daddy”, sets by Midnight Groovers, Peter Ram, La Sel Difewanse, Waitukubuli Dance Theater, Newtown Labo Cabwit, Giraudel Jing Ping Band, Kompa Kila, Karifuna and Real Steel, to name just a few. Particularly enticing is the line-up of calypsonians such as Hunter, Daddy Chess, Dice, Bobb, Soul Puss, Prosper, Karessah, Tasha P, and Sye, who will perform in revue, backed by Dominica’s premier Calypso band, Swinging Stars.
If its a tough call deciding between Creole in the Park and a visit to the fishing village Scotts Head, Mero Beach, or a hike to the Emerald Pool or Trafalgar Falls, consider that many of the artists can also be heard on the bayfront or nightclubs such as The Cove.
If you are traveling at a more leisurely pace, consider traveling through neighboring Guadeloupe or Martinique. This is also an option for procrastinators who find flights into Dominica booked. Express des Iles offers ferry service between the islands and a more sensual arrival. Complete festival information can be found at www.wcmfdominica.com.