2nd Rupununi Music & Arts Festival ends on a high

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Scenes from the recent Rupununi Music & Arts Festival

MUSIC was the message as the Mighty Gabby rounded off a weekend of diverse, interesting, popular and dynamic melodies from around the world at the 2nd Rupununi Music & Arts Festival.The Brazilians shared capoeira, samba and Brazilian “jazzed up” popular music to the delight of the audience; Suriname’s quintet, MAYA, performed with panache captivating the audience with

Scenes from the recent Rupununi Music & Arts Festival
Scenes from the recent Rupununi Music & Arts Festival

their soulful renditions; nine-time calypso monarch in Barbados the Mighty Gabby, had both the young and old grooving late into the night; JJ Kent, of the Oglala band in the USA, served up a mixture of traditional music and chants and country music that left the crowd wanting more and these were all complemented by dozens of young, talented, Guyanese artistes who danced and sang from their souls to add style to the weekend’s activities. Over 36 hours of music, dance, spoken word, arts and craft workshops, food and glorious sunshine!

For Gavin from the band, O B E, “the festival was a huge success, a beautiful weekend that brought together so many different people from different cultures for one collective experience. Each day had a unique glow about it, and for those as adventurous as my group, the days were made even better by our own agenda – such as exploring the savannahs and swimming in the river.”

It was Friday evening and the sun was slowly bidding farewell as Rock View came alive with sounds, rhythms and movements when the audience was invited to share a slice of Amerindian life in the specially built Macushi village on site.
The village scene was the setting for the opening of the festival with music, dance and poetry with cultural groups from Surama, Rupertee and Wowetta, culminating with the Minister of Indigenous People’s Affairs Hon. Sydney Allicock, entering on horseback to share one of his powerful poems, his memories of cattle- ranching in the area. Tradition with modernity in music and dress and you knew you were in a Macushi area. The village activities gave way to a few words of welcome from Minister Allicock and Minister of Tourism Hon. Cathy Hughes who assured the audience that they were fully supportive of the festival becoming an annual event!

The evening continued in a traditional cultural vein with Group Capoeira Angola Palmares enriching the space with skills, chants and movements that started slowly and gradually accelerated to show dexterity and agility. And then….OBE, a young band from Georgetown with some “wicked” Rock ‘n’ Roll that evolved into Guyanese folk and more “up tempo” rock music. The high- energy evening mood was set and Ras Camo on pan took the audience to another level around the Pool Side Bar and many folk, including friends from various government ministries were observed “moving and swaying’’ to the rhythms of calypso.

The youthful RegioJazz added their special Brazilian flavour to keep the night “rocking,” but it was “Chuckie” from Buxton Fusion and Gavin Mendonca from OBE who belted out some punchy Guyanese folk songs to bring down the curtain in the wee hours of Saturday morning!

For Ramona, “I wanted to thank you for the amazing opportunity you’ve given us as volunteers to participate in the Rupununi Music and Arts Festival. It was a wonderful experience and it’s safe to say that I’ve fallen in love with the Rupununi!”

Saturday and Sunday mornings were particularly special; J J Kent (flute) and Ras Camo (pan) were programmed to start at 5.30 am on top of Inspiration Rock and…they did.

Scenes from the recent Rupununi Music & Arts Festival
Scenes from the recent Rupununi Music & Arts Festival

Sunrise greetings, blessings for another beautiful day and lilting musical sounds that spoke to the power of creation, surrounded those on the Rock and those in bed. An experience of a lifetime!

Saturday early- morning activities continued in spiritual mood as Monica Brinn and the Capoeira group offered open classes in Yoga and Capoeira. Bodies and minds were being catered for and nourished!

When the activities began in the afternoon, the hot sun had many sitting in the shade, a distance from the main stage, but still enjoying the quality music and having opportunities to meander around the site. They dipped into a wide range of arts and craft workshops, observing many at work and having the time to chat and make purchases; all the visual- arts activities orchestrated by George Simon, Patron of and performer at the festival and a superb visual artist. Creative “keepers of traditions” shared ideas with other craft and visual artists and there was a buzz of excitement in the shady space they occupied.

Sunday very much followed the Saturday model with the early- morning session attracting more folk to the Rock to share in the experience and an even larger audience throughout the day. A packed, possibly over-packed programme, awaited everyone.

Inevitably there were hiccups and issues, but when these were brought to the attention of the organisers, they were positively, quickly and satisfactorily remedied, allowing the thousands who attended over the weekend to enjoy themselves. Given the logistics involved and appreciating that it was only the second event of this nature, the festival was a huge success on may levels and so said hundreds of visitors from within Guyana and the visitors from abroad.

Alas….. it had to end on Sunday evening and what better way to do so than with the Mighty Gabby who closed the event by sharing his many calypso hits with the excited audience. Sponsors, artistes, staff, volunteers, tutors, vendors, families and friends – a big thank you to ALL – as almost everyone who spoke to and contacted us…sent out the call…see you in 2016…and so they shall!
With so much positive feedback, Liz and Arthur from Georgetown added the icing on the festival with their beautiful summary: “Thank you for an awesome lifetime experience! For us, the festival was the bomb – the content was great, the atmosphere fabulous and the people wonderful! What more is there to say.” (Submitted by Dr. Bob Ramdhanie, Festival Director, on behalf of the Rupununi Music & Arts Festival team)