WCMF 19: possibly… the greatest
With 12 regional and international as well as nine local acts WCMF # 19 promises to be one of the best ever. Why, you may ask?
Well, the marketing budget provided by Government for the Festival has more than doubled; there is greater enthusiasm from patrons, bands and other stakeholders, perhaps because the festival was sorely missed last year and according to local promotion guru, Leroy Wadix Charles, for the first time the Dominica Festival Commission (DFC) has introduced the visual impact of billboards, particularly in the French Antilles where more that 70% of the patrons come from.
Finally, the experience and innovativeness of Val Cuffy, a former director, now consultant, has added his brand to the exuberance of Wadix and to a more sedate and analytical Kelly- Ann Williams of the DFC. Cuffy leads the trio following the resignation of the short-lived executive director.
Next week, from October 28, Dominica will explode with some 10 different Creole genres on stage-from indigenous Cadence and Bouyon of Michele, Ophelia , Groovers, Triple Kay, OBP, WCK ,Asa Bantan , the Jazzy –pop quintet of Breve and compass of Extasy Band ranging to the Reggae of Gentleman, Morgan Heritage, to the Compa/Zouk of Timaya ,T Mickey, Le Grand Merchant Zouk,Kreyol La, Dede Prix combined with the Soca elements of Kes and Mr Killa all merged with the International Grammy Award winners Wyclef and Akon- all in just three nights at the National Stadium.
In an interview with Wadix, the ace promoter for the Festival, he acknowledged, as I have in several articles, the potent rhythmic structure of Dominica's music particularly the Bouyon element in recent times needs improvement in particular its lyrical content, moods, musicianship/instrumentation and engineering output.
Wadix also hopes to see the day when the Festival will once again reintroduce the educational aspects of the event; the coming together of minds in the formation of Creole committees aimed at studying the language, forging of relationships to integrate the Creole cultures as was done during the formative years of the WCMF.
However, this is not to say that local bands should by this time have put their CVs together and or/have requested to meet with promoters of mega stars such as Akon or Wyclef, with a view to having them listen to their music or arranging (via a dinner or outing) to dialogue with their publicity teams for assistance through collaborations, engagements.
Though promotions, hotel bookings, flight arrangements and the Stadium all seem to be in order, there is always concerns about the disparity and quality of the sound experienced by Dominican bands in the past. While the Government has given scholarships to study medicine, law and engineering not much attention have been paid to the arts in that respect. In fact, up to about a few years ago it had been more than 30 years since someone had been trained in any aspect of the arts at a first degree level. It has been all about courses ranging from a few days to a couple months- not sufficient. Also like everything else a level of internship is required where one can understudy a professional on the job.
It would serve an aspiring Dominican sound engineer well to have a 6-month attachment with Kassav or with a prominent Jamaican Reggae group on tour so that this experience can be transferred locally. These are some of the things we would like to come out of the Festival also. One can have the best equipment and if you are not trained to manipulate it to get the desired sound it's useless. We all saw what happen at our Calypso finals last year as well at as so many other national events- poor sound quality.
In addition, shouldn't organisers of the Festival and the country be concerned about the annual influx of Jamaican bands to our shores, and they go away with our EC currency which they usually request to be converted to US dollar, without any reciprocation? What are the implications on our balance of payment?
Notwithstanding the above, although I am not one of those who will be part of the revelry in recent times, I do love our culture and I am concerned how this is showcased to the world.
In conclusion, I wish all Dominicans a wonderful, crime-free Festival and in all that we do don't forget our Lord and Saviour; we should find some time within all the revelry to glorify His name having spared us this year…thus far.