Tuesday, 30 June 2009

THEATRE ON THE EDGE: Passion, Humour and Drama

ON CRAFT: Jean-Paul Menou (right), Michael Sean Harris and Melward Morris in Playwriting 101: The Rooftop Lesson

FORMING part of the art-centric activities of Kingston on the Edge (KOTE) 2009, Theatre on the Edge, staged recently at the Philip Sherlock, shone the spotlight on a group of distinguished and on-the-come-up Jamaican theatre practitioners. This team of valuable players left the “ram-packed” audience craving only more with eight delicious 10-minute plays. Even performers with less familiar names left an indelible impression on viewers.

At the same time, directors, who must make a playwright's vision accessible and affecting for actors and audiences alike, also get their share of credit for thrilling the packed theatre comprising industry insiders and avid theatre lovers. For the most part, the eight small ensemble pieces delivered equal parts razor-sharp comic timing, profound emotional intuition and the occasional dramatic highpoints.

Among the winning highlights were the Pierre Lemaire-directed Apologies, starring Fae Ellington and Alwyn Scott. I only caught the last few minutes of this play but from what I took in, Ellington’s performance lifted the mysterious, hilarious and deceptively farcical piece. Jean Small, playing a heavy-hearted mother who goes to visit her son (Chris Daley) in prison in Too Late To Cry, was just as mesmerizing in her portrayal.

Then there is the blissfully rib-tickling Playwriting 101, featuring Jean-Paul Menou (The Teacher), Michael Sean Harris (The Good Samaritan) and Melward Morris (The Jumper) that wittily explored conflict, language and emotional investment in the art of playwriting. Entertaining and ‘educational’, the Brian Heap-directed piece offered one of the most enjoyable pieces of the night drawing attention to important and usually overlooked details of the craft. Also on the night’s bill: Carolyn Allen’s To Be Content (with Brian Johnson and Peter Parkinson); Keith Antar Mason’s For Coloured Boyz and August Wilson’s The Janitor, directed by Small.

IN THE DARK: Rishille Bellamy-Pelicie as Miss Burton

Making her long-awaited directorial debut, Nadean Rawlins capably gave direction to a brawny young cast and the effervescent writing of Amba Chevannes during Miss Burton Gets A Promotion, about a neurotic and overly-driven career-woman (a remarkable Rishille Bellamy-Pelicie) who clearly suffers from a severe case of high self-esteem. (A gem from Rishille: “This is not a diary; diaries are for weak people. This is a log book of my life. Legends should keep logs.”) Priceless stuff. Not surprising, since Chevannes is the writer behind such immensely engrossing mini-plays as Dinner With Eleanor and The Last Bloom. I wonder what she’ll give us next.

Noelle Kerr and co-star Shayne Powell were a juicy joy in Karl Williams’ refreshing Random about a young interracial couple (Dorothy and Jamal) grappling with love, drugs and religion in New York City. Continuing her impressive run on the local theatre circuit, Kerr savoured ever sap in the part, wringing all emotion from Williams’ informed writing while sharing discernible chemistry with her rookie stage partner. Williams knows how to write conflicted characters, particlaurly ballsy young women (see Not About Eve) and with Random he delivers more undeniable evidence of his gift. Overall, Theatre On The Edge 2009 saw some of Jamaica’s finest stage stars sharing great rapport, consolidating and sharing a group understanding of theatrical production.

LOVE & SEX & NEW YORK: Noelle Kerr and Shayne Powell in Random

After 16 years, VIBE magazine is shuttered

Jamaica's Sean Paul graces the December 2003 cover of Vibe

Magazine, the popular urban/hip-hop magazine, closed its doors down as of today, June 30. In a memo to the staff announcing the magazine's closure, Steve Aaron, CEO of Vibe Media Group explained "the company tried in vain to either find new investors or to restructure the huge debt on our small company. The print advertising collapse hit Vibe hard, especially as ad categories like Automotive and fashion, which represented the bulk of our top 10 advertisers, have stopped advertising or gone out of business," he wrote.

Started by Quincy Jones in 1993, Vibe enjoyed much success in the late 90s as hip hop, R&B, and rap began dominating music and pop culture. With a mix of a low readership and the onslaught of the global recession, the magazine gradually began losing footing. As Vibe joins King as urban mags that have been discontinued, The Source remains as the only surving publication that caters to the urban readership.

Movie Review: Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen

BIG BANG: Destruction reigns in Transformers 2

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (DreamWorks/Paramount Pictures)
Director: Michael Bay
Cast: Shia LaBeouf, Megan Fox, Josh Duhamel and Tyrese Gibson
Rated: PG 13
Running Time: 2 hrs 24 mins

Overall rating: C-

WEIGHED down by lacklustre dialogue, lifeless acting and intolerable length, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen might very well be the first big cinematic flop of the busy summer. It’s noisy and numbing. Michael Bay and his enthusiastic team of sound effects specialists serve up an unyielding assault on the ears and the brain. With its big-budget visual effects (some are superbly executed) and excitable tale of morphing machines, the film undoubtedly possesses box-office clout. But in the end it drowns in its ambition and overdone, overwhelming action-on-steroids.

The strained attempts to wring humour from successive scenes only add to the pandemonium. Where the 2007 prequel succeeded with a decent balance of absorbing action, a respectable plot and the expected crashing, cranking and burning, this new sequel suffers from a disturbing lack of soul and emotion. For most of the film’s 144 minutes, you are forced to endure a bombardment of metallic clashes, irritating conversations and general chaos. Young action hero Shia LaBeouf, usually engaging and charming, is largely wasted here. There is even a detectable absence of chemistry between him and the alluring Megan Fox, who plays his love interest.

Sam Witwicky (LaBeouf) has entered an exciting new chapter of his life as a college freshman but after some ancient symbols are inexplicably transcribed to his brain, he soon finds himself back at the centre of the clash between the peace-loving Autobots and the Decepticons, a rancorous and alien breed of non-biologicals out to destroy the world. It is soon left up to Sam and a supporting team comprising new friends and the military to defeat the enemy group, save lives and restore calm.

For all its over-the-top action sequences, high-octane explosions and a major showdown in the Egyptian desert (one of the longest action climaxes I’ve ever witnessed), Transformers 2 boils down to an overly energetic, overlong, chaotic and jangly metalfest. A study in noise and unremitting destruction, it lacks the requisite authentic appeal that audiences crave from summer blockbusters.

Konshens pulls out of Sumfest lineup

HIGH-RIDING dancehall star Konshens has reportedly pulled out of the lineup for Reggae Sumfest 2009. The decision was made as a result of agreements made by the artiste and his business partners in Europe regarding the release and promotion of an album recorded by himself and older brother Delus.

Acording to his camp, Konshens had made a commitment in November 2008 to return to Europe to promote the album titled Modern Revolution released by Irievibrations Records from Austria, as soon as the record is released and the season of festivals have begun in Europe. Feeling let down by the turn of events, Konshens said that his hands were tied and there was nothing he could do. He stressed that it’s not a "money issue" but his intention to stand by his word.

“I gave them my word and it’s an issue involving both me and my brother Delus, so I can’t think selfishly though it will do some harm to my solo career. I apologize to anyone who was looking forward to seeing me there, but mi ah guh deh round fi a while so no worry unnu self,” says Konshens. “Mi sorry mi ah guh miss Toni Braxton star, and mi know Tarrus ah guh bun it up especially wid di album about to drop. It mad."

Born Garfield Spence, Konshens earned the attention of fans with singles including Winner, This Means Money and Good Girl Gone Bad (featuring Tarrus Riley).

Friday, 26 June 2009

Rising Stars champ heads Dreamgirls cast

AND I AM TELLING YOU: Cameal Davis to star in JMTC's Dreamgirls

DIGICEL Rising Stars winner Cameal Davis will star in the Jamaica Musical Theatre Company’s (JMTC) summer production of Dreamgirls tackling the demanding role of Effie White. The JMTC version of the popular Broadway musical opens on Thursday July 9, 2009 at the Philip Sherlock Centre UWI, Mona and runs throughout July. The production will also feature recording artist Aisha Davis alternating in the role of ‘Deena’ and OJ Deru alternating in the role of Jimmy, along with the talented JMTC ensemble.

Davis became the first female winner for the popular talent competition in 2008 singing tunes like “Spotlight” by Jennifer Hudson. Coincidentally, Hudson played the role of Effie in the film version of Dreamgirls in 2007, winning an Oscar for her powerful performance.

Dreamgirls is loosely based on the show business aspirations and successes of R&B acts such as The Supremes, The Shirelles, and James Brown to name a few, and follows a young female singing trio called "The Dreams", who become music superstars. But Dreamgirls is not just about the singing, dancing and the performing. The play is also about the behind-the-scenes reality of the entertainment industry and the business element of showbiz.

Following a one-year hiatus, The Jamaica Musical Theatre Company (JMTC) is proud to continue its tradition of staging first class, award-winning musicals such as “Bubbling Brown Sugar”, “Sarafina”, “Mama I Want to Sing!”, “Purlie”, “The Wiz” and “Disco Inferno”.

Thursday, 25 June 2009

TRIBUTE Video: "Remember The Time" - Michael Jackson: 1958-2009

WHO WOULD IMAGINE A KING?: Michael Jackson in youth

Icon. Superstar. Legend. Dancer. Controversial entertainer. Trail-blazing artist. King of Pop gone too soon. Michael Jackson was born to perform and was arguably the greatest that ever did it (no offence, James Brown). Truly incomparable and influential, Jackson's raw and ripping talent, glorious voice and charm made him a one-of-a-kind talent, a pop pioneer. "Thriller" aside, none of his music videos touched and entertained me more than "Remember The Time" (1991). How old was I then? All of six years. Peep the amazing and timeless video below.

ARTIST SPOTLIGHT: Cherine delivers in Sierra Nevada

SOUL OF A WOMAN: Cherine works the stage

San Francisco, CA - June 25, 2009

Soulful, radiant and powerful are but a few words that could suitably describe dancehall soulstress Cherine Anderson's performance at the 16th Annual Sierra Nevada World Music Festival in Booneville, California this past weekend. Anderson delivered a set that vouched for her vocal talent and growing popularity among international reggae audiences.

With the support of legendary musicians Sly & Robbie and the Taxi Gang, Anderson rocked the capacity sized crowds with hits like "Kingston State of Mind", "Good Love" and her most recent chart-topper "Shine On Jamaica". She got the crowd involved in her performance and looked at home as she sang both new and old tunes. Always appreciative of her fans, Anderson was especially attentive to the group of kids who flocked the side of the stage, signing autographs and taking pictures for well over an hour after exiting the main stage. Back in the media tent, several members of the press referred to Cherine as an ambassador for the music and her country and inquired as to whether she felt pressured to be a female on the current reggae scene.

STAR POWER: The singer in performance

In the midnight hours Anderson returned for a second performance at the festival, joining veteran selector Rory from the Stone Love movement in the Dancehall. Anderson entertained the jam packed dancehall with popular tunes as well as dancehall tracks from her 2008 mixtape Street Anthems which was hosted by Rory. The vibe was more hardcore but the fans loved every minute of it. After delivering her set, she was put on the spot to sing something a cappella and got an overwhelming response when she belted out "You & Me Against the World".

Up next for the busy talent are a couple of days of intense rehearsals with the Grammy-nominated band The Counting Crows and Michael Franti and Spearhead, for their joint upcoming July through September tour. She starts her European tour this Saturday, June 27 at the Shepherd's Bush Empire in London, England, opening for Spearhead.

SHINE ON CHERINE: Anderson gives her all

Sunday, 21 June 2009

QUEEN IFRICA: ‘Lioness On The Rise’

AFRICAN 'QUEEN': Ifrica returns with Montego Bay

BLAZING ‘fyah mumma’, rootsy rasta empress and soulful lovers rock songstress, Queen Ifrica is one chameleon we are definitely feeling. After storming the airwaves, widening her audience and stacking up awards with her first album, aptly titled Fyah Mumma, Ventrice Morgan is back for more with Montego Bay, her soulful, sassy and sensitive sophomore album that is sure to woo new listeners and satisfy her long-time loyalists.

With a melodic mix of reggae, soul and dancehall roots, Queen Ifrica channels her inner Marcia Griffiths on cuts like
Far Away and Lioness On The Rise but brings it hard and harsh on tracks like Streets Are Bloody, Coconut Shell and the pleasant title track for a balanced and ear-pleasing experience. TALLAWAH caught up with the busy woman to hear about staying true to her craft, the biggest lessons she’s learned in the fickle music industry and why she supports Etana.


TALLAWAH: Your eagerly-awaited sophomore album, Montego Bay, hit music shelves last week. What does this new CD bring to your audience and those yet to experience your sound?

Queen Ifrica: The album is just an extension of my thoughts. I have a cause where my music is concerned and that’s what I bring with this album. It’s dealing with serious topical issues that people are experiencing right now, but we are having fun while doing it.

TALLAWAH: Listening to a couple of the tracks, I realize that you have taken a more soulful and sensitive direction with this album.

Queen Ifrica: I believe there is always room for improvement and you shouldn’t stay in one place with your music. But sometimes when writing my songs, I try to get a vibe from the rhythm and that helps me in creating the lyrics. I always like to do my love songs in a special way, and on this album there are some sensual songs that I know people will love.

TALLAWAH: What else do you hope listeners take away after hearing the 13 cuts on Montego Bay?

Queen Ifrica: I hope I have touched on topics that people can relate to. Songs like Montego BayDaddy are very strong tracks that paint pictures and are talking about real struggles and real issues. There are also tributes to people and places. It’s real personal but at the same time, I know people can relate to what I am talking about. and

TALLAWAH: I admire your dedication to your message and your craft. What does music do for you?

Queen Ifrica: It gives me meaning and makes me feel like I belong. So with my music I try to give of myself and keep it real and I think that is why people gravitate towards me.

TALLAWAH: Artistes always have interesting on-the-job stories to tell. What has been the most eye-opening thing about the music industry in your experience?

Queen Ifrica: One of the biggest lessons I’ve learnt is that there are a lot of people in the industry who will go out of their way to sabotage your career. The industry is very disunited but I try to stay on the straight and narrow. What we do is avoid negativity and focus on the positive. But I have to give thanks that the negativity is part of the minority. You have to give thanks for the blessings.

TALLAWAH: On the positive side, what has been the most startling feedback you’ve received from fans and well-wishers?

Queen Ifrica: It’s overwhelming. I’ll be at a radio station overseas and when I come outside there will be people of all different ages with gifts and portraits waiting to talk to you. I love the comments I get, especially at the airport. It makes me feel good about what I do.

TALLAWAH: What are you most proud of about what you’ve accomplished so far in your career?

Queen Ifrica: I am happy that I was willing to learn and understand the biz instead of getting frustrated, discouraged and giving up. I am proud that I am on of those who hold on despite the struggles because at the end of the day, it is worth it and I have to give thanks.

TALLAWAH: Recently, reggae-soul singer and fellow Rastafarian empress Etana got baptized in a Christian church as part of her ongoing personal transformation. As expected, her decision sparked controversy. What are your thoughts on the whole thing?

Queen Ifrica: It’s kind of sad that something like this should become news and controversy. We need to look at stuff like this for the good in it instead of looking at the divisions between Christianity and Rastafarianism. For Etana, the decision was about self-development. So when I see something like this I can only encourage her. She is trying to find out who she is.

TALLAWAH: What makes you angry?

Queen Ifrica: I don’t like when people deliberately fight against people who are succeeding. That makes me angry.

TALLAWAH: What always makes you smile?

Queen Ifrica: I love the fact that I can be friends with other artistes like Ce’Cile and Lady Saw and we can all live in the music industry and be happy and successful.

YENDI PHILLIPS: From Her Bookshelf

BOOK BRIGHT: Yendi Phillips shares her faves

Rising Stars
host Yendi Phillips loves to curl up with a good book. Here she shares with you five of her most important reads:

* Angels and Demons* (Washington Square Press) by Dan Brown

* The Audacity of Hope* (Vintage) by Barack Obama

* Conversations With God* (Putnam) by Neale Donald Walsch

* Think Big: Unleashing Your Potential For Excellence* (Zondervan Press) by Ben Carson

* The Measure of a Man: A Spiritual Autobiography* (Harper) by Sidney Poitier

YENDI SAYS: “These are all inspiring books for anyone seeking some motivation. For a good nail-biting thriller you should definitely read Angels & Demons.”

Related Posts:

* In Support of Miss Phillipps: An end to the Yendiphobia, please!

* Talking back: TALLAWAH readers react to Yendiphobia story.


BAD MAGIC: Peter Heslop and Carlene Taylor in Ras Genie

Ras Genie (YANA Entertainment)

Director: Dahlia Harris

Cast: Peter Heslop, Rowan Byfield, Dean Martin and Natalee Cole
Venue: Pantry Playhouse, New Kingston

Tyrone’s Verdict: B-

FANTASY and reality, magic and superstition, good and evil clash in playwright Andrew Roach’s latest theatrical offering, Ras Genie, a likeable and modestly entertaining production that benefits from good writing and decent performances. However, it falls short of the consistency necessary to keep it afloat. Commendably directed by Dahlia Harris, the play introduces us to Wingie (Carlene Taylor) and her best friend Chin (Natalee Cole), both exotic dancers and unapologetic gold-diggers, who live at a tenement yard shared by a pushover pastor (Rowan Byfield) and owned by a no-nonsense landlord named Mr. Stennett (Dean Martin).

One day Wingie encounters a strange bottle which when opened liberates a foul-smelling Rastafarian genie (Peter Heslop), who becomes her mystical source of information on the colourful folks living in the yard. Additionally, she is the only one who can see and hear him. Before long, ‘bangarang’ ensues with the landlord and the pastor intent on ridding the yard of the new visitor.

Ras Genie engages when the focus is on the chemistry shared by Heslop and Taylor, who turn out to be a likeable duo. Roach, who impressed with his award-winning script for Strength of a Woman, manages to create some funny out-of-the-ordinary situations for his characters through his writing. But this time around, the overall results are mixed, with several scenes being overly outlandish. The acting styles are predictable and the action onstage is sporadically funny but the set design and lighting get high marks.

Overall, Ras Genie is a serviceable and intermittently funny comedy made satisfactorily enjoyable by the comical antics of its lead characters and an amusing story, though it falls short of winning us over completely.

ART ON SHOW: Final Year Exhibition - Edna Manley College




KEMOY MORGAN: Fragile Reflection

JABARI BROWN: The Other Half

ART ON SHOW: Final Year Exhibition - Edna Manley College




ROHAN MITCHELL: The King & Queen


ART ON SHOW: Final Year Exhibition - Edna Manley College



DANIELLE STENNETT: Artist Stennett (right) raps with two viewers of her jewellry pieces

JOELLE SALKEY: Expo III (Leaves on mesh wire)


OPEN HOUSE: The 2009 Final Year Exhibition (currently running) put on by Edna Manley College School of Art offers an idyllic setting and thought-provoking artwork from the region's next generation of visual artists. From acrylic to automotive, the young artists employ a wide range of media to showcase their impressive creations to bring attention to art as rebirth, art as community and art as metamorphosis.

FILM OF THE WEEK: The Taking of Pelham 123

MAN ON FIRE: Denzel Washington gets into character in Pelham 1 2 3

The Taking of Pelham 123 (Sony Pictures)

Director: Tony Scott

Cast: Denzel Washington, John Travolta, James Gandolfini and John Turturro

Running Time: 1hr 35 mins

Tyrone’s Verdict: B+

DENZEL Washington may be ‘undergoing the effects of time’ these days but, thankfully, his magnetic on-screen presence has not waned an iota. In fact, I think he is improving as his evolution intensifies. With his latest role in the thriller The Taking of Pelham 123 as a veteran New York City subway dispatcher his performance both tugs at your heart strings and engages the mind. Alongside fellow seasoned silver screen star John Travolta, Washington delivers to the satisfaction of viewers, while breathing life into a character that played by any other actor could have turned out uninteresting and clichéd.

Directed by kinetic action addict Tony Scott with an adapted screenplay by Brian Helgeland, The Taking of Pelham 123 is an engrossing, fast-paced but balanced remake of the 1974 original that puts front and centre the physical and internal conflicts one man must overcome in a bid to help save lives. Washington stars as Walter Garber, whose normal day on the job as a subway dispatcher is ruined when one of the passenger trains he oversees is hijacked by a crazy and angry criminal mastermind named Ryder (Travolta) and his gang of hooligans, who demand a high ransom for the release of passengers to be paid in an hour.

With the clock ticking away and the cops unable to make a breakthrough, Garber has to pull on his experience and knowledge of the city’s rail system and simple common sense to outsmart Ryder and restore calm to the bustling city. The on-screen pairing of Washington and Travolta provides some humorous moments and their regular negotiation chats recall that Christian Bale/Heath Ledger match-up in The Dark Knight. Travolta brings manic energy to the role, even though his portrayal does come across as campy at times.

James Gandolfini takes a departure from his Tony Soprano mobster characterizations to tackle the part of the mayor, who is out to protect his citizenry at all costs. Never mind that he does a lousy job any way. After all, he’s no Rudy Giuliani. Scott, who directed Washington in 2006’s Déjà Vu and 2004’s Man on Fire) employs his signature quick-action film-making style to offer a wild and sizzling ride. He lets the action play out without much interference and this works to the benefit of the picture as things move along quite stylishly, with equal parts intrigue and tension.

Absorbing and action-packed, The Taking of Pelham 123 is quite possibly the most successful collaborative effort between Scott and Washington. The informed pairing of Washington and Travolta is equally worth your time and the price of admission.

MOVIE REVIEW: The Proposal

'CRAZY' IN LOVE: Ryan Reynolds and Sandra Bullock in The Proposal

The Proposal (Touchstone Pictures)

Director: Anne Fletcher

Cast: Sandra Bullock, Ryan Reynolds, Mary Steenburgen, Craig T. Nelson and Betty White

Running Time: 1hr 47 mins

Tyrone’s Verdict: B+

THE Proposal is a fresh, funny and light-hearted romantic comedy that sails smoothly via the effortless chemistry shared by lead stars Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds and a storyline that is as amusing and appealing as it is unforgettable and believable. Like most good romantic comedies, it offers a worth-your-time examination of matters of the heart while reminding you of the possibility of finding love when you least expect it and in the most unlikely of places and situations.

Bullock (who got good comedy exercise with such hit vehicles as Miss Congeniality) stars as Margaret Tate, the uptight editor-in-chief at a New York-based publishing house. Her job is her life and she devilishly overworks and intimidates her subordinates, including her hardworking secretary/assistant Andrew (Ryan Reynolds), who is hungry for a promotion. When immigration authorities threaten to deport Margaret back to her native Canada, she blackmails Andrew into feigning a relationship (engagement and impending marriage) to keep her in the country.

With no choice but to play along (and convincingly too), Andrew takes Margaret to meet his folks in a small sea-side town in Alaska, where we encounter his sweet mother (Mary Steenburgen), adorable grandma (Betty White) and demanding father (Craig T. Nelson). But can the “crazy-in-love” couple keep up the charade over the course of their visit, or will they crack under the pressure? It doesn’t help them either that a suspicious immigration officer (Denis O’Hare) is breathing down their necks.

The Proposal has a talented and competent ensemble cast that delivers, not to mention a gifted screenwriter (Pete Chiarelli) whose witty lines easily roll off the tongues of the actors. Reynolds (known for starring turns in such flicks as Definitely, Maybe) is flawless and with Bullock (I forgive her for accepting that horrible role in The Lake House) he forms an attractive, likeable and impressive on-screen pair. Overall, The Proposal provides a refreshing romantic adventure, bolstered by strong acting, fine writing and emotional heft.

FASHION FRENZY: Caribbean Fashion Week Wrap-up

DESTINY FULFILLED: R&B singer Kelly Rowland strikes a sexy pose

DOUBLE CHIN: Songbird siblings Tami and Tessanne smile for the camera with fan Toni Simone

YOU BETTA WORK: Models strut on the CFW catwalk at the National Indoor Sports Centre

FASHION CHATTER: Cherine Anderson catches up with stylist Anatoli Smith

FASHION FRENZY: Caribbean Fashion Week Wrap-up

PRETTY WINGS: Dancehall-soul star Cherine Anderson hangs with young fans after a sizzling performance

CLOSE UP: Dancehall disciple Wayne Marshall hangs tight with young fan Toni Simone

GOLDEN GIRLS: Models work the CFW runway

HOT IN BLACK: Dancehall-pop singer Tami Chynn goes for simple chic as she performs for the fashion lovers


Relapse (Shady/Aftermath/Interscope Records)

Artiste: Eminem

Tyrone’s Verdict: B

YOU can say this for Eminem: it’s impossible not to have an opinion about him. The controversial rap star is back with a hard-hitting mix of the old and the new. Relapse, his first album in nearly five years is chock-full of catchy rap tracks, familiar rhyming patterns and engaging lyrics that will thrill fans and college deejays. Whether he’s addressing drug addiction or another personal and social issue, you can tell he believes in what he’s talking about and having fun while doing it. As such, Relapse offers the rappers mix of unapologetic humour and thought-provoking lyrics.

Such tracks as Déjà Vu, We Made You and Stay Wide Awake will stay in your head long after you’ve ended your listening session. Still, there is not much on the album to blow you away. It’s all recognizable and safe. Eminem (born Marshall Mathers) proved his unmistakable talent for riding bass-laced beats, particularly those cooked up by long-time collaborator Dr. Dre on such discs as The Marshall Mathers LP (2000) and Encore (2004). Relapse, for what it’s worth signals the return of the controversial rap figure, who is going to say what he wants whether you share his views or not. At least, he makes it an interesting ride on this long-awaited comeback album.

Friday, 12 June 2009

SPOTTED: Here, There & Everywhere

CHILLIN IN THE CLUB: Sean Paul hangs at the Opium Nightclub at Seminole Hard Rock in Las Vegas recently

BRAVO: The University Singers cheer the audience at the end of a performance of their 51st Season, now on at UWI Mona

HOW WE DO: Cherine Anderson grooves with a fan during her recent performance at the UCLA Jazz & Reggae Fest in California

DIVA: Soprano Ana Strachan lights up the stage during the University Singers 51st Anniversary Concert Season at UWI Mona

FOR MY PEOPLE: Cherine Anderson belts one out for the masses during a recent US concert performance, days before the start of her world tour.

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

EVENT PREVIEW: Caribbean VeggieFest

FROM Friday, June 12 to Sunday, June 14, wellness enthusiasts and experts and folks from across the region interested in leading and promoting healthy lifestyles will gather at the Hilton Kingston Hotel for the 2009 staging of the Caribbean VeggieFest, Spa and Wellness Conference. Now in its fifth year, the festival is being held in partnership with the Hilton Kingston, also the title sponsors and co-producers of the eagerly anticipated event.

Under the theme
Wellness Tourism: A Global Phenomenon with a Caribbean Flavour, Caribbean VeggieFest stakes its claim as a ‘unique wellness professional trade show and conference’ that promises to showcase the best the region has to offer in wellness tourism and healthy living. The fest is expected to draw some 15,000 attendees over the three days. Representatives from wellness centres, health spas and salons, exercise and fitness gurus, spa equipment manufacturers and technicians, as well as students of spa management programmes will be in attendance.

“We recommend this Wellness Conference and Trade Show to persons from ages 12 to 80 who feel that good health is the most important thing in life. In addition, we produce this event as a celebration of the vegan lifestyle,” shares Sharon Parris-Chambers, co-founder and co-producer of Caribbean VeggieFest.

For Parris-Chambers, a wellness enthusiast in her own right, there is much to be thrilled about concerning the upcoming event. “We are most excited about the culinary showcase with six master chefs preparing 'finger-licking' gourmet vegetarian foods, headlined by Dr. Aris Latham, a food scientist and founder of Sunfired Foods and De-tox Centre, based at Coyaba Gardens in Ocho Rios,” she says.

Meanwhile, Parris-Chambers says there are plans afoot to ensure the growth and survival of Caribbean VeggieFest. “We certainly will build on the VeggieFest product. We have been invited to Panama in October 2009 to build the VeggieFest, Spa & Wellness Conference ‘brand’ and we have been approached by other wellness companies to engage in exploratory discussions,” she explains.

Adds Parris-Chambers: “We are looking at working collaboratively with Jamaica Wellness Cluster, guided by Jamaica Business Development Corporation; Caribbean Export Development Agency based in Barbados; Caribbean Spa and Wellness Association (headed by Steve Andrews of Soothing Touch Spa in Barbados.) and Group D1 S.A., a destination management company in Panama. These representatives will be attending our VeggieFest conference. We welcome other entrants who will help the wellness industry move from fragmentation to amalgamation. The overall objective is to widen the value chain and to firmly establish Jamaica as the ‘wellness capital’ of the Caribbean.”