Thursday, 10 July 2014

WHEEL AN' COME AGAIN: Jamaican Folk Singers' yearly folk fair celebrates pieces of the past

TO MARKET, TO MARKET: The celebrated choral group incorporates a series of props into their annual performances.

One of the ways the Jamaican Folk Singers are preserving the legacy of their late founder Dr. Olive Lewin is through strict adherence to the traditions she instituted and building on them.. Not least among them, the annual folk fair, aptly called Pepperpot, which brings together disparate elements from old-time Jamaica into a flea-market type setting, providing a trip down memory lane for the older folks and a wonderful learning experience for the new generation.

"The aim is to get in touch with the past," explains the group's current Musical Director, Christine McDonald-Nevers, standing inside the St. Luke's Church Hall in Cross Roads, the new venue for the event, which previously drew huge turnouts to the Mona Community Centre. "For the Jamaican Folk Singers, preservation of our folk culture is very important; it's not just about making money for the sake of making money to further our mission. There is always a lesson in the process."

Pepperpot, which borrows its name from an album the group put out in 2006, is now all of 16 years old, a period that has allowed the organizers to further deepen their relationship with the folk traditions to offer patrons an authentic and richly satisfying experience. In addition to stalls and a market-style arrangement, Pepperpot features demonstrations in everything from candy-making and bammy-making to the derivation of chocolate tea from the pod to the steaming finished product.

Used books, clothing items and a selection of plants in full bloom, an array of Jamaican dishes (vintage and modern) and delectable pastry items - not to mention intermittent performances complete the full day-long package.

"It's a worthwhile initiative not just for us but for the people who regularly support Pepperpot," insists veteran chorister and attorney-at-law Coleen Lewis, who was on the weekend officially made President of the Rotary Club of Trafalgar/New Heights. "People like the traditional experience, the folk experience, so it is something that we look forward to each year." 




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