Thursday, 26 June 2014

EDITOR'S PICKS: KOTE kick-off at Redbones; an indie rocker impresses; a docu screening hits hard at Liberty Hall

TALENT SHOW: It's that time of year again when Kingston on the Edge (KOTE) has the city in its grip, with some 26 arts-based events happening at 22 venues across the capital. Things got off to a splendid start on Friday evening with a hugely entertaining opening ceremony at Redbones, which has been transformed into a veritable cultural oasis. The urban arts festival has become known for bringing together performers from all facets of the cultural arts, so attendees were in for a delightful mix of live music (Jason Lee Worton, the funky Brainstorm and the Brazilian bombshell Orisha Sound); visual art (exhibits by Charl Baker, Richard Nattoo, Katherine Silvera et al); and dance (a collaborative piece featuring Veronique's exotic jewellery and mesmerizing choreography by Neil Ebanks, pictured above with Oneil Pryce). A jolly good time was had by all.

THE KID: KOTE event locations are terrific spots to reconnect with longtime favourite artists and to discover fantastic new talents. I got a chance to chat with Worton, a uniquely gifted indie-folk rocker who marches to the beat of his own drum. Offering sturdy originals and covers, he gave a solid yet minimalist performance at the KOTE opening ceremony. As it turns out, he also plays guitar as a member of Protoje's Indiggnation band. "I've always had my solo projects, so even when I started playing with him, I had been doing my own thing. But I'm definitely busier now because we tour a lot," says the 35-year-old, who's working on his first solo album, with influences ranging from Bob Marley to Jimi Hendrix. On life as an indie musician, he concedes, "Sometimes it's better being an unknown artiste than a big artiste with too much hype." And where does he see himself in 10 years? "I really want to be producing. And it's a dream of mine to be making Jamaican guitars."

TRUTH TO POWER: With North Parade, Downtown Kingston, all abuzz on Sunday, what with the Ward Theatre Project taking centrestage, I headed over to Liberty Hall on King Street for a screening of the documentary Hidden Colors: The Untold History of People of Aboriginal, Moor and African Descent, Tariq Nasheed's powerful look at reasons Black people have been left out of the pages of history. I was blown away. Relentless and informative, the doc combines interviews (scholars, historians) with archival footage to paint a compelling portrait of the woefully undersung roles Blacks have played for centuries in everything from science and art to sports and military technique achievements subjected to the horrors of prejudice and racism. A three-part series, Nasheed's production is an important document every living Black person should witness. Hidden Colors is available on DVD and can be found among Liberty Hall's extensive film collection.

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