Saturday, 30 April 2016

FRESH TRACKS: 5 sizzling new tunes speak to matters of the heart

TESSANNE CHIN – “Love Suicide”
Few Jamaican songstresses can use the voice to connect with us as deeply as Tessanne. Undoubtedly, this is one of her darkest singles to date (a slow-tempo jam that pacifies and provokes), but with her flawless treatment, she manages to make it resonate, with the reminder that love is many things but easy is never one of them. B+
**

SHERIETA – “The Last Time”
On this achingly beautiful track about a relationship gone bad, the talented chanteuse (who has penned hits for Romain Virgo and Etana, et al) delivers sturdy vocal work steeped in regret and heartache that shows off her impressive range and knack for crafting memorable lyrics and soothing melodies. Breakups can be messy, but this girl keeps it classy! B
**

MR. VEGAS – “Identify My Love”
No stranger to baring his feelings on record, the veteran crooner speaks to matters of the heart (with his signature mix of emoting and melodic riffs) on this regageton-inflected tune that’s alternately spiky and sentimental. The many moods of Mr. Vegas gets another lyrical showcase. B
**

DRAKE feat. Popcaan – “Controlla”
The best of both worlds – hip-hop and dancehall – find common ground on this decidedly slow-burning track off Drizzy’s freshly released new album, Views. The brothers tackle the complexities (highs and lows) of intimate relationships, yielding tuneful results. A bit on the sleepy side, but it wins you over all the same. B+
**

BEYONCE feat. Kendrick Lamar – “Freedom”
Reminiscent of early Beyonce (circa Album #1), this groovy mid-tempo jam (off Album #6) zones in on the emotional toll, not to mention the beauty of commitment, that it often takes to make a relationship work, sacrifices and all. As ever, B sounds awesome and the lyrics, at their best, are simplistically gorgeous. A-






ARTIST SPOTLIGHT: Nile Saulter talks career, challenges, and Storm’s next feature film, Sprinter

UNITY IS STRENGTH: A scene from Everblessed, on view at the National Gallery.

Nile Saulter and Storm Saulter are a pair of filmmaking brothers who don’t mind collaborating on each other’s projects. Up next: Sprinter, Storm’s well-anticipated follow-up to the modern classic Better Mus’ Come, which won critical huzzahs from Kingston to Kenya. Without going into details, Nile says this forthcoming feature from his talented sibling will prove that his triumphant debut was no fluke.

“I don’t want to say too much about it, but people will be very, very impressed by Sprinter. I’m sure it’s going to be a great success,” Nile says, adding that they’re gearing up to commence principal photography in June. Sprinter is written (and will be directed) by Storm.

Though on a smaller scale, Nile is making strides in his own picture-making career. To wit, he is talking to TALLAWAH smack in the centre of the National Gallery, where his most recent project, the seven-minute short Everblessed, is among the more than 50 entries that make up the gallery’s just-opened 'Digital' exhibition, a stellar showcase of works that reflect the myriad ways digital media and new technologies are revolutionizing the visual art landscape.

“I’ve been working on a lot of different things, small documentaries, a bit of commercial work here and there, and some personal projects. I’m really focused on more personal work right now,” the 30-year-old tells us.

He is quick to report, too, that their New Caribbean Cinema family, which released the critically acclaimed experimental anthology, Ring Di Alarm, a couple of years ago, is still very much together. “We’re always working. When you have four individual and very talented filmmakers in a crew, there comes a time when everybody has their own individual thing to focus on,” he points out. “So sometimes you have to kinda disperse but not disband.”

Looking ahead, Nile Saulter hopes to bring a few of his fresh ideas to the big screen but, as ever, financial constraints are a challenge. “I’d love to have a budget where I can make a certain type of film, but I can’t say it will be one particular story, but just to express my ideas in a full-length project,” he says. “You have those filmmakers who’ve been in the game for so long that when people hear that they’re behind a particular project, you know it’s gonna be cool. That’s my aim.” 

> SCREEN GEMS: TALLAWAH takes a look at the National Gallery's new 'Digital' show






Friday, 29 April 2016

FLICK OF THE WEEK: Action-packed and dazzling, The Jungle Book gets a triumphant upgrade

WILD & FREE: Young Mowgli (Neel Sethi) and Baloo (Bill Murray) keeping a sharp look-out.

Loyalty, family and friendship rank high among the most powerful universal themes explored in the movies. Watching the new Jon Favreau-directed remake of The Jungle Book, a spectacular achievement, one is reminded of this. Action-packed and dazzling, the film moves at a break-neck pace, challenging us to keep up.

But it’s also heartfelt and humorous and anchored by an emotionally intelligent performance from young Neel Sethi, a gem of a discovery, who takes to the role of precocious man-cub Mowgli like it’s a part he was born to play. You root for him as he makes one narrow escape after another and proves that heroes come in all shapes and sizes.

Of course, The Jungle Book is a Disney adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s literary classic that takes us deep into the wild. It’s about a boy who, after his father is killed by ferocious tiger Shere Khan (played with heart-pounding menace by Idris Elba), is discovered by thoughtful panther Bagheera (a non-nonsense Ben Kingsley), who turns him over to a pack of wolves who raise him as one of their own. In no time Mowgli morphs into a mini Tarzan making the jungle his own, thanks to survival lessons from wolf leaders Akela (Giancarlo Esposito) and Raksha (Lupita Nyong'o) and Bagheera who regularly checks up on his progress.

But danger is never more than a stone’s throw away, and when Shere Khan gets wind of Mowgli’s presence in the jungle, he will stop at nothing to kill the boy. His guardians set in motion a plan to get him to the ‘man village’ and out of harm’s way. That’s how Mowgli meets Baloo (Bill Murray, hilarious), a giant of a lazy bear. The two become fast friends and a fierce team against the relentless Shere Khan.

Working with screenwriter Justin Marks, Favreau (the auteur behind hits like Iron Man) takes the beloved storybook tale and transforms it into a CGI-filled live-action epic that consistently awes and comes together in an exotic, hugely enjoyable package – armies of fleet-footed monkeys, majestic elephants and other talking creatures, skyscraping trees and golden sunsets and fire as “the red flower.”

The supporting cast ain’t too shabby either, with terrific voice-work appearances by, among others, Scarlett Johannson (as the monstrous serpent Kaa) and Christopher Walken (as orangutan kingpin Louis).

Home is where the heart is, they say, and in the case of courageous Mowgli that sentiment rings hauntingly true. Finding family (and lessons to last a lifetime) in the unlikeliest of places, he discovers friendship and loyalty, too. Tyrone’s Verdict: A






Thursday, 28 April 2016

SCENE & HEARD: Sean Paul rocks Coachella; Fraser-Pryce at Carib; PM Holness in MoBay, and more

KELLY & SHELLY: April 26, Kingston. Sprint queen Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce (right), whose Pocket Rocket Foundation was the event’s chief beneficiary, shares the frame with the JPS’ dynamic leading lady Kelly Tomblin at the Carib 5 Cinema, where the American Chamber of Commerce Jamaica on Monday hosted the Caribbean premiere of the inspiring biopic Race: The Jesse Owens Story, drawing a large turnout. (Photo: Sleek)

TO MARKET, TO MARKET: April 23, St. James. A recent working visit to St. James brought PM Andrew Holness to the MoBay market district, where he not only spent time rapping with the vendors but also purchased a few dozen ears of corn and other produce. You have to get your shopping where you can! (Photo: OPM)

ALL WE DO IS WIN: April 23, United States. Grammy winner Sean Paul (far right) is joined on-stage by fellow recording stars Nico, Akon and Vinz, as they put in work on Day 2 of the 2016 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival weekend at the Empire Polo Club in Indio, California. (Photo: Zimbio.com)

STARS OF THE SHOW: April 22, United States. The Prudential Centre in Newark, New Jersey, recently played host to Mega Mezcla 2016, where crowd-pleasers like Shaggy (sporting a sleek all-white look) shared the spotlight with ubermusicians Alex Sensation and Yandel. (Photo: Zimbio.com)

WALK THIS WAY: April 21, Kingston. An estimable local party, including culture minister Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange and UNIA President Steven Golding (among others), were on hand at the Norman Manley International Airport to formally welcome to our shores Prince Ermias Sahle-Selassie, grandson of the late Haile Selassie. (Photo: Sleek)






CHAT ‘BOUT: Quotables from Pearnel Charles, Basil Waite, Michael Frater, and more

“The society should have a conversation about how we fund education under an austerity budget. Removal of auxiliary fees in a context where you do not have sufficient numbers of trained teachers at the pre-primary level is populist, not socialist and definitely not in the best interest of our development. To say you are removing auxiliary fees and not replacing the existing fees in each school is explicitly a policy of defunding schools, which must lead to poorer quality education.” – Former Government senator Basil Waite, commenting on the widely publicized auxiliary-fees debate, in a recent newspaper column
**

“Bolt’s name is synonymous with Jamaica, and how we leverage that element of it, in determining the spin-off for the country, should have been explored more. Granted, there are issues because he himself is a brand, and therefore you will need that level of communication or dialogue with his team on the benefits for Jamaica.” – UTech lecturer Paulson Goldson urging local stakeholders to put more focus on capitalizing on Usain Bolt’s far-reaching legacy
**

“I have not always got along with the MPs from either side of the house, and I propose to treat them fair but firm right across the Parliament. Over 90 percent of parliamentarians are not involved in ruckus in Parliament. A small number of us allow journalists to refer to us as the ‘Gangs of Gordon House.’ If it means that our behavior and decorum can lift that image, I am prepared to lead that. There is a perception that we have to change, that our parliamentarians are involved in riots in Parliament. We must lift the standard.” – Speaker of the House Pearnel Charles speaking out on the controversial behaviour of some colleagues in Gordon House
**

“We’re been very dominant over the past 10 years, and I doubt we have lost a relay other than the World Relays last year. A lot of the guys are getting closer to the end of their careers, and Usain is saying he’s going to do this for about two more years. It’s the last go-round for most of us, and we are looking to continue our winning trend and end on a high.” – Michael Frater on the memorable farewell being planned for the Men’s 4X100M at the Rio Olympics this summer
**

“I continue to maintain that there is a star in every ghetto youth. We understand your dreams, your ambitions, your aspirations, your energy, your enterprise and your industry, and the government has a duty to invest in that, to invest in you, and we are committed to doing that. We call upon the young men to exercise the right choice. Make a choice today. You are not going to be involved in the crime, the wrongdoing, the murder. And if every young men was to make that choice, the murder rate would go right down and the growth and employment would go right up.” – PM Andrew Holness delivering a strong message to Jamaican youth on Sunday at the New Testament Church of God in Montego Bay






SCREEN GEMS: The National Gallery’s ‘Digital’ showcase pays testament to the changing visual art landscape

SPACES AND PLACES: Henri Tauliat's "Flying Parade," one of the featured works in the show.

The National Gallery of Jamaica consistently raises the bar and pushes the boundaries with each new blockbuster exhibition that they mount. They’ve managed to do just that once again with their latest showcase, Digital, an engrossing celebration of how digital media and technologies are revolutionizing the contemporary visual art landscape.

Populated by over 50 works, it’s full of compelling concepts, powerful imagery and unique stories delivered by artists rapidly ascending to the height of their creative powers (Olivia McGilchrist, Oneika Russell) and some on-the-rise talents (Richard Nattoo, Jik-Reuben Pringle) who are blessed with fascinating ways of seeing.

Overall, it’s a mixed bunch of entrants – Jamaican, Caribbean Diaspora reps and a handful of international voices – but there’s an undeniable sense of genius in all of them.

For us, the filmmakers make the most lingering impression. Among our favourites: Trinidad’s Patricia Mohammed won us over with “Seventeen Colours and a Sitar,” her well-made musician-and-artist-in-conversation short (35 minutes) which, at its core, is an exploration of artistic sensibilities, delving into the techniques and approaches of two masters of their respective crafts. Of a lighter complexion, Mohammed’s “Coolie Pink and Green” explores Trini tradition (dance in particular) and natural beauty yielding some breathtaking results.

Known for his mojo behind the camera, Nile Saulter delivers the seven-minute-long triumph “Everblessed,” which examines the increasingly blurred line between dancehall and the church in Jamaica, the sacred and the profane. Pringle admirably tackles single fatherhood with the strongly acted “Day One.”

Elsewhere inside the sprawling gallery, you find a feast of diversity and dynamism. Prize-winning author Jacqueline Bishop (also an artist of some repute) submitted the nostalgic photographic video “Bodies of Water”, dedicated to her grandmother. Sheena Rose turned to GIF animation for her pieces “History”, “Mr. Fox and She” and “Diamond and the Artist” – all full-bodied statements about her experiences as a Caribbean woman coming of age in Barbados. In every room there’s something to engage the senses and provoke thought, conceived in a variety of digitally-inflected media (collages and illustrations, GIF animation, digital prints, photographic videos and video installations, etc.)

“Digital media has arguably been the fastest growing field in contemporary visual art and has been an area of major innovation and experimentation,” the gallery’s executive director Veerle Poupeye explains. “While traditional art media, such as painting and sculpture, continue to flourish and receive significant support in the Caribbean, there is now strong focus on digital technologies in contemporary art. This has led to new and very productive dialogues and exchanges of which this present exhibition is in fact a product.”

What’s more, ‘Digital’ marks a first for the National Gallery. “This is the first submission-based exhibition at the National Gallery that was open to the Caribbean and the Caribbean Diaspora, and we also received entries from Jamaicans living in other parts of the world,” Poupeye tells TALLAWAH. “So it’s almost a global exhibition, and we are very happy about that.”

> ‘Digital’ is on view at the National Gallery of Jamaica, Downtown Kingston, from April 24 to July 4, 2016.






Wednesday, 27 April 2016

ART FRESH: Talented teens seize the spotlight in this year’s Jamaica Visual Arts exhibition

PUTTING IT TOGETHER: Some young male artists getting creative for the annual competition.

Almost 250 entries (the cream-of-the-crop pieces), from the youth and adult categories combined, made it into this year’s Jamaica Visual Arts Competition/Exhibition showcase, dubbed Jamaican M.A.D.E, which got its official opening at the Jamaica Conference Centre on Sunday afternoon. Of the nearly 20 gold medals that have been awarded, the lion’s share was scooped up by high-school students from across the island, who brought their A-game to the competition this year, deeply impressing the judges with their hypervivid imagination and creativity.

Campion College alone produced three of these outstanding entrants: in the Painting category, talented teens Kaylee Reynolds (“Breakthrough”) and Felisceano Wright (“On the Edge”) showed off their impressive skills while Selina Chin (“Portrait of an Old Lady”) produced a stunning work-on-paper to cop gold. Just as fascinating: “Breaking Free” (by Daniel Simms of Newell High), a captivating portrait of a young man peeling back the layers of his identity to reveal his true self; and Darrel Dwyer’s (Pembroke Hall High) elegant sculpture “Water Woman.”

Mona High’s Travis Barrett produced a memorable painting titled “Composition”; Manchester High’s Abigail Williams showed off her deft photographic eye with “Patterns” while Old Harbour High’s Christon Cheese yielded a clear winner with his clever painting “Conversation”, depicting a rooster and a chicken having a verbal exchange.

In the age 6-8 years category, Adam Christian (“Animals in Boat”), Juan Pablo (“Dorothy and the Lion”) and Jude Johnson (“Totem Pole”) won gold for their highly commendable pieces of artistic expression. They are all students of the American International School of Kingston, which rightly claimed the Summit Prize for Top School.

But the adults were not to be outshone, with the likes of St. Catherine-bred sculptor Winston Forth (“Natty”) and photographer Dane Hucey (“Threads of Addiction” and “Reflection”), also from St. Catherine, earning their golden stripes from the judges. Yet another son of St. Catherine, Nosbourne Lee, edged out his rivals to snag the Art Live Prize for his terrific sculpture/assemblage creation “Hound of Honour,” a canine masterpiece seemingly fashioned entirely from scrap metal parts.

In short, Jamaican M.A.D.E is a must-see exhibition. This year’s crop of vibrant, award-winning pieces (gold, silver, bronze and merit awardees) remains on view (free to the public) at the conference centre’s upstairs gallery, set up by the JCDC, through Sunday, May 8, when the awards reception will bring all the prize winners together. Acknowledging their favourite piece in the display, members of the public are invited to cast their vote to decide who takes home the coveted Viewers’ Vote Prize, sponsored by the Tourism Enhancement Fund.






Tuesday, 26 April 2016

ON THE RECORD: Singing sensation Chevaughn aims to make ‘a big impact’ through his art

NOTE WORTHY: "I would define myself as a breath of fresh air," says the singer, performing Sunday at the National Gallery (below), with guitarist Dario Morgan.

Hopeless Romantic is the title of the EP that Chevaughn Clayton released to formally introduce himself to the music world in 2014. A groovy mix of R&B-flavoured reggae and entrancing pop grooves, it struck a chord with listeners. “It got a lot of love, still getting a lot of love. I learned a lot about how to release a project because it was my first time releasing a project as a solo artiste, so it was a learning process,” shares the twenty-something crooner, who shot to fame singing melodious hooks for pals like Ding Dong, whose chart-topping track “Holiday” ruled the charts circa 2012 and introduced Chevaughn, then a relatively unknown talent, to a wider audience.

There’s more where that came from. As it turns out, the singer is hard at work on two full-length albums – one he’s co-producing (called From Scratch) and another (still untitled) that’s being spearheaded by hitmaking veterans Frankie Music and Bobby Digital. “Jamaican pop music with reggae and R&B influences” is how Chevaughn describes his sound. “I’ve been singing for years and now that I’ve officially entered the music business I would define myself as a breath of fresh air,” he tells TALLAWAH. “But it’s not about competing with what’s out there; it’s just to add to what’s already out there.”

On a crisp Sunday afternoon, the singer is chatting with TALLAWAH inside the National Gallery’s main foyer where moments ago, as guest performer, he thrilled a sizeable audience (attending the opening of the new 'Digital' exhibition) with a selection of tunes (some originals, a few covers) that gave everybody a mood boost. Chevaughn may not be versed in fine-art lingo, but he can appreciate the great work of fellow creative artists. “It feels good to be here among all these amazing artworks,” he says, with no shortage of modesty. “I was here three weeks ago to perform with Sherieta, so to be invited back to do a full set feels awesome. I’m extremely humbled.”
A member of the on-hiatus band C-Sharp, Chevaughn is a product of Portmore’s Bridgeport High School and the Edna Manley College. He hails from a musical family, who encouraged his dream of becoming a professional singer-songwriter. “From I was very little I was allowed to sing, both here and overseas, and enter competitions. I got full support from my family,” recalls the singer, who won the Tastee Talent Competition at age 10. “So by the time I decided to go to Edna I had already saved up, so I didn’t have to depend on my family. They wanted me to think of other professions as well, but they still looked out for me and expected the best from me.”

A sturdily built chap with a genuine gift for vocal gymnastics, Chevaughn has no intention of letting them down. He has his career game plan well mapped out. And that includes collaborating with iconic talents like Beres Hammond and Tarrus Riley (who may both appear on his upcoming CDs) and taking note of the valuable lessons the universe is sending his way.

“One of the things I’ve learned so far on this journey is that I’m much greater than I give myself credit for and my purpose here is much bigger than I imagined,” he says, waxing philosophical. “My main aim is to make a big impact through my music. People can forget my name; that’s fine. As long as I’ve played a part with my voice and my art, that means more to me above all things.”






PLAY IT AGAIN: Kingston’s The Free Willies combine jazz-rock energy with a playful spark

BORN 'FREE': The bandmates bring an eclectic mix of moods and grooves to their lives shows.

For a band that claims improvisation as the main thrust of their live performances, the Free Willies sure know how to put on a show that exemplifies craftsmanship, bold artistry and a rapport among the bandmates that seems effortless. The Free Willies is by no means a flawless outfit however – originality is not among their strongest assets. But these are talented musicians who love what they do so much that their act comes across more as playful entertainment than trying too hard, or taking themselves too seriously, to make an impression. The band’s tell-tale name should have been warning enough.

“It’s a free movement,” frontman/lead vocalist and guitarist Omar Francis, a tall and bespectacled fellow with short locks, tells TALLAWAH, minutes after thrilling a tidy Friday-night crowd at the Redbones Blues CafĂ©. “We like the informal thing. We don’t really rehearse. We mainly just come together and play. We’re not trying to be rich and famous.”

But their selection of tunes, predominantly rock-jazz classics, honour world-famous musicians (including some of their idols and a few rock-and-roll hall-of-famers) who are. I’m talking about Jimi Hendrix (“Machine Gun”), Verve (“Bittersweet Symphony”) and the freshly late Prince, whom Francis honoured with a moving interpretation of “Raspberry Beret.” Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song” brought a slice of reggae.

Francis and his bandmates (drummer Jeremy Ashbourne, keyboardist Jerome Tulloch and guitarist Carlton Jarrett) can’t get enough of the jazz/funk/rock/alternative fusion – an eclectic mix – that’s come to define their sound after 10 years and counting. One member even brought out a harmonica to the stage on Friday night. 

No surprise that they have their pick of guest vocalists who regularly work out with them, including the lovely and talented Desiree Dawson, whose glorious cinnamon vocals (think Corinne Bailey Rae meets Ellie Goulding) spiced up renditions of “I Will Survive”, Fela Kuti’s “Centre of the World: Africa” and Adele’s “Hello”. 

Wild and free seems to suit these fellas and their friends just fine, but worryingly they seem to favour covering classics over crafting original content. But the night is still young on their careers for them to produce a few anthems of their own for the growing fanbase. “We record singles every now and then, but it’s not for commercial purposes,” Francis admits, emphasizing that whatever music they play must speak to humanity and freedom. That perhaps explains why they have such a thing for improv. “It’s about taking a piece of music and making it into something beautiful,” Francis rhapsodizes. “It’s kind of a policy. The music has to feel free.”






Monday, 25 April 2016

STATE OF THE NATION: General Secretary Paul Burke talks about the PNP in repair, Lisa Hanna, and holding the JLP to account

TO TELL THE TRUTH: "I'm a relic of the past," Burke admits, "because I can't see myself going out there and buying votes." 

Resilient, outspoken and manically energetic are only a few of the adjectives that spring to mind in reference to embattled PNP General Secretary Paul Burke, a man who’s proven he can take the heat, plowing ahead no matter how many torpedoes are fired in his direction. Given the rebuilding process that presently characterizes his beloved party, these days Burke has a lot on his mind and a lot on his plate, including meeting regularly with comrades to hear their grouses and update them on plans for the future. The Jamaica Conference Centre was the scene for their latest gathering, on Sunday, as the New Foundations Group met with party faithful. For the second instalment of our ‘State of the Nation’ series, the 63-year-old Burke spoke with TALLAWAH about the PNP’s healing process, his mixed feelings about Comrade Lisa Hanna, what the JLP must deliver, and why he’s a relic of the past.

TALLAWAH: Mr. Burke, the PNP has had an eventful last few months, to say the least. Where do things stand in the party at the moment?
Paul Burke: The party has stabilized. We have two things happening simultaneously. We are examining the reasons for our defeat [in the Feb. 25 General Elections]. There is an appraisal committee that is interviewing comrades, different leaders and also persons who are not within the party, as to what they think contributed. But it’s obvious that there is no one single factor but a number of factors. But while we are doing that we are also preparing for the Local Government Elections, which are due by December 2016, and the party president has indicated a programme, where she is meeting with the different parish organizations. So far the meetings have been positive, very very positive. And that will resume when the Budget Debate is finished.

TALLAWAH: So as the PNP rebuilds, what should the focus be on?
Paul Burke: Right now the party’s focus is on the Local Government Elections. We are strengthening the organization – both the general party structures and also the Election organization.

TALLAWAH: In retrospect, do you think the PNP lost the 2016 General Elections fair and square? 
Paul Burke: Put it this way, there are always glitches in the electoral process, but the truth is, had our base and our supporters turned out, those issues would have been non-issues. We saw a phenomenon, which has grown: I have no quarrel with JLP supporters not going out to vote because they don’t get a payment. I have a major issue with PNP supporters sticking up the party on Election Day and saying if they don’t get something they’re not going to vote. And many of our candidates were confronted with that situation. On a personal note, I’m a relic of the past because I can’t see myself going out there and buying votes. But maybe it’s the only way to go in this present dispensation, in this context. And that programme must be addressed one way or another. The long-term solution is for the party to do its political education to make its messages clear.
TALLAWAH: As General Secretary, you took a lot of heat and faced heavy criticism for some of the decisions that were taken in the run-up to the polls.
Paul Burke: All the decisions I took and what I communicated were decisions taken either by the NEC or the democratic process. I know the decisions were approved by the executive committee of the People’s National Party. There is not one decision that Paul Burke sat down, by himself, and took because the PNP doesn’t function that way. But I am the voice that had to communicate some of those decisions that were not so popular. So I understand the resentment, I understand the anger. People in the PNP must be angry about losing an Election the way we did.

TALLAWAH: Looking ahead, what’s your challenge for the ruling Jamaica Labour Party?
Paul Burke: I’m not watching the JLP; my eyes are not on the JLP. [Our] party has said that they must honour their promises. And I believe that also. There is the integrity of politics. You have said something; you have put it on record, you must deliver. And the party is going to make sure, as much as possible, that they deliver. Some of these promises are beneficial to the Jamaican people. The removal of auxiliary fees, for example, is something that we support 100 percent, as long as it doesn’t negatively impact the quality of education to be delivered.

TALLAWAH: Looking back, how did you know that politics would be a part of your life?
Paul Burke: Politics, to me, is a way of life, and if you have strong views about the way your country should go, then you need to be involved, at some level, with the politics.

TALLAWAH: One final question: Are you a Lisa Hanna fan?
Paul Burke: I respect Comrade Lisa Hanna; I think she brings value to the party. I think she has done some good work, but I have criticisms of how she operates and functions within the party. And I’ve already indicated those things to the party.

More:

> METRY SEAGA on Expo Jamaica, trade, and national growth






AN APPRECIATION: The Bolivar Gallery’s closure evokes a wave of nostalgia – and a worrying trend

TALK TO ME: Artist Annabella Proudlock (right) and journalist Barbara Gloudon catch up at  Proudlock's final show at the Bolivar in 2014; (below) Hugh Dunphy and the gallery's interior.

One can’t help noticing the striking similarities that connect Kingston’s Bolivar Gallery and Bookshop with its north-coast cousin the Harmony Hall Gallery and Gift Shop. Quaint, inviting and oozing old-world charm, they both bring rustic-chic sophistication to the local art scene. But where Harmony Hall has survived and is still going strong, the Bolivar Gallery, it saddens us to report, has closed its doors for good.

But kudos to Mr. Hugh Dunphy, his companion Janet and their small, hardworking staff for keeping it open and serving the community for as long as they did – since 1979 to be exact. In truth, the signs of the gallery’s impending closure loomed large in recent years. Still, it’s a deeply felt loss.

The demise of the Mutual Gallery (and indeed other cultural landmarks like the Pantry Playhouse and the Barn Theatre) is what I think of when reflecting on the Bolivar’s unfortunate exit. It’s a stark reality that, if nothing else, is challenging us to give greater consideration to our collective responsibility of safeguarding our national treasures. Like other public institutions, they need solid support to stay alive. A society can hardly thrive without a vibrant art scene.

What’s more, the Bolivar Gallery brought to Jamaica’s art landscape a wonderful mix of exhibitions (providing an outlet of expression for established and emerging talents), a fascinating collection of rare books, and exotic artifacts from all over the world that combined form and function, telling unique stories with a universal outlook.
Among TALLAWAH’s most memorable trips to the Grove Road-based gallery (off Half Way Tree Road): attending Annabella Proudlock’s final Kingston show in 2014 and taking in some truly lavish photography displays that formed part of the annual Kingston on the Edge festival.

Always a breezy, people-friendly atmosphere and the company of compelling, conversation-starting works of art.

It remains to be seen what will become of the enchanting property. Janet, who is overseeing the transition on behalf of the 82-year-old Dunphy, tells TALLAWAH over the phone that they’ve adopted a wait-and-see approach. Several of the pieces from the gallery’s permanent collections have been sold; others are in storage. When TALLAWAH stopped by recently the yard was awash with yellow and brown leaves.

By and large, the closure of the Bolivar Gallery marks a sad moment in the ever-evolving life of the Jamaican art world. Here’s hoping that by some twist of fate, this important cultural space will instead be reimagined for the future. But, whatever the ultimate outcome, the Bolivar has made its mark.






Saturday, 23 April 2016

CHAT ‘BOUT: Quotables from Usain Bolt, Garnett Silk Jr, Barack Obama, and more

“We needed some new pairs of eyes with a new energy. He has a wealth of experience and lots of contacts, both here and overseas, as well as some visionary ideas – including screening the festival in 3D. This will be the first time it will be done. It’s going to be amazing. Also we’re looking at doing a North American tour.” – Robert Russell announcing Downsound Records’ Joe Bogdanovich as the new Chairman of Summerfest Productions, which puts on the annual Reggae Sumfest concert series 
**

“Community policing is the way to go. These young people that we have now are fast forming their own culture and if we, as adults, as police managers, don’t influence the attitude that they have towards the formulation of this culture, it is going to be to our detriment.” – Senior Superintendent of Police Steve McGregor emphasizing the importance of law enforcement at the community level in the fight against crime
**

“Personally, I don’t really want to continue for years and years because it’s getting hard. I have to sacrifice more and more. It takes up so much of your time. I’m never going to come out and joke or be a joke in a season. I believe in winning. I hate to lose. I will never come out and say it is a farewell tour. I will want to compete at my best, go to the championships and win again. – World’s Fastest Man and Time 100 honoree Usain Bolt addressing retirement rumours in a recent CMC interview
**

“As I grew older and started digging deeper, trying to find out more about my father and started listening to his music, I started to accept and acknowledge how much of a great man Garnett Silk was and what he means to people. It started to inspire even me in the greatest way possible.” – Rising star Garnett Silk Jr (whose upcoming album is called Let Reuben Live) on the influence of his legendary father
**

“Few artists have influenced the sound and trajectory of popular music more distinctly or touched quite so many people with their talent. ‘A strong spirit transcends rules,’ Prince once said – and nobody’s spirit was stronger, bolder or more creative.” – President of the United States Barack Obama paying tribute to music icon Prince Rogers Nelson, who died at age 57 earlier this week






Friday, 22 April 2016

OUT AND ABOUT: Sean Paul and Chronixx hit up Coachella; Grange and Tufton support Expo; Bolt attends Hublot grand opening

TIME WELL SPENT: April 19, United States. The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum was abuzz with activity on Tuesday, as luxury watch-makers Hublot celebrated the grand opening of their new Fifth Avenue flagship store and the 10th anniversary of their All Black Collection in New York City. Jamaica’s Usain Bolt (centre), a longtime Hublot ambassador, joined fellow sporting legend Pele (second left), Jean Francis Sberro, Ricardo Guadalupe and Justin Rose at the glitzy event. (Photo: Zimbio.com)

STRENGTH IN NUMBERS: April 18, St. Andrew. A former education minister and champion of youth achievement, PM Andrew Holness recently welcomed Jamaica College’s high-energy robotics team and their chaperones to Jamaica House, where he urged them to continue their innovative and game-changing streak. (Photo: OPM)

FUN TIMES: April 17, Kingston. Among the government officials who came out to support the entrepreneurs on show at Expo Jamaica 2016, culture minister Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange was spotted sharing a light moment with President Metry Seaga of the Jamaica Manufacturers’ Associaion, as they made a stop by the Bartley’s All in Wood display inside the National Arena. (Photo: Expo Jamaica)

TASTE AND SEE: April 17, Kingston. As former head of the Jamaica Exporters’ Association Bev Lopez looks on, health minister Christopher Tufton and his obviously approving son sample one of the many refreshing beverage options that were on offer inside the National Arena at last weekend’s Expo Jamaica showcase. This year, well-deserved awards went to the likes of Home Choice Enterprise (the Buy Jamaican Spirit Award) and Salada Ginger Tea (Best New Product). (Photo: Expo Jamaica)

TRIPLE THREAT: April 16, United States. California’s premier annual concert series Coachella got a hefty dose of Jamaican star power this year, thanks to appearances by Sean Paul (left), Chronixx and Dutty Di General, who shared a fraternal moment for the cameras. Roots-reggae prince Protoje also hit the stage, making his long-awaited Coachella debut. (Photo: Sean Paul)






FLICK OF THE WEEK: Winter’s War heats up the screen with dueling queens, spellbinding sorcery

HIGH SEAT: Blunt (seated) and Theron play sisters with a thirst for power. Below, Hemsworth and Chastain.

The Huntsman: Winter’s War is a bewitching and highly entertaining blend of sorcery, sibling rivalry and the dark side of human nature. Does love truly conquer all? That timeless nugget is put to the ultimate test in this Cedric Nicholas Troyan-directed, fairy tale-inspired flick whose wave of star power yields divine performances from Emily Blunt, Charlize Theron, Jessica Chastain and Chris Hemsworth reprising his titular role.

Heartbroken by a devastating betrayal, Freya (Blunt) flees her sister Ravenna’s (Theron) kingdom to establish her own as The Ice Queen. Her reign of terror over a frozen wonderland finds her waging epic wars against the kings of the North and rescuing kids to be trained as recruits for her army of elite huntsmen. That’s how she discovered Eric (Hemsworth) and Sara (Chastain), who would grow up to become “the best ones” in her army – but also rebels who fall in love and long for their freedom. But Freya will not hear of it and her ruthlessness sets into motion a sequence of events that puts Eric’s and Sara’s bond to the test.

Fast forward several years and Ravenna’s mirror (of “Mirror, mirror on the wall” fame) is up for grabs, and Freya wants it so badly she would do anything to get her hands on it. But, as they say, be careful what you wish for.
As far as origin stories go, Winter’s War (with its stunning cinematography and eye-popping 3D visuals) stands as a far superior product to 2014’s Snow White and the Huntsman, in which Twilight’s Kristen Stewart duked it out with Theron. This time around, it’s Theron and Blunt going at it, but their fighting is more passive-aggressive sisterly bitching. The real action surrounds Hemsworth and Chastain (who reveals yet another dimension to her gifts as a tough-as-nails butt-kickin’ heroine), playing the good guys battling some of the ugliest evil imaginable.

But for all the dark magic and malevolence that Winter’s War throws at us (not to mention some dazzling-ravishing costumes sported by the queens), there is enough heart and dignity in this bubbling pot to remind us that the most memorable fairy-tale narratives are full of bittersweet resonance that don’t always end in happily-ever-after. Tyrone’s Verdict: B+

> ALSO PLAYING THIS WEEKEND: Kevin Costner plays against type in the gritty action thriller Criminal, while Same Rockwell and Anna Kendrick are certified bad company in the comedy-drama Mr. Right.






Wednesday, 20 April 2016

MADE IN JAMAICA: Expo Jamaica’s youngest exhibitors cut a dash with their ‘Bresheh’ bags

TAKE YOUR PICK: Bresheh bags on display at 2016 Expo; Carlene Davis and Tommy Cowan, with Randy, are fans. Below, Davian and his model strike a pose.

WHAT: Bresheh Enterprises’ custom-made bags
WHO: Davian and Randy McLaren

Bresheh might be the amusing Jamaican word for breadfruit, but in the world of whip-smart entrepreneurs Davian and Randy McLaren, brothers in their 20s who could almost pass for identical twins, it’s the name of their company, which specializes in all-Jamaican custom-designed bags that are as creatively crafted as they are practical and great to look at. “One day when I was in high school, I pulled apart a Jansport knapsack and then put it back together, and everybody liked how I’d re-created it,” explains Davian, 23, sharing the experience that planted the seed for the bag company.

Officially established in August 2015, Bresheh Enterprises has been making strides over the course of nearly a year and counting. Original creations are the specialty and their bounty includes everything from backpacks, travel bags, pencil cases and messenger bags to satchels, gym bags, lunch kits and tablet/laptop totes. This year, the brothers held the distinction of being one of (if not the) the youngest exhibitors at Expo Jamaica inside the National Arena.

For the McLaren brothers, nothing compares to standing out as on-the-come-up businessmen who pride themselves on being designers and manufacturers of quality customizable products. 

“It’s a fairly new company, and it’s been going wonderful so far. We enjoy the work and there’s never a dull moment. It all depends on the material that the customer wants. As far as I can see, the only thing that they (the competitors) have been doing is importing, and we need to cut it down,” he says. “So that’s where our idea came from. We can make our own bags with as many local products as possible.”

You know your product is making a dent in the popular psyche when the stars come knocking. “The response has been great. The artistes are coming on board, and we’re thankful for that. We recently made a bag for Miss Jamaica [Sanneta Myrie] and we also got orders from Emprezz [Golding] and Chronixx,” Davian points out, adding that I-Octane was recently added to their growing clientele.

As for the future of Bresheh Enterprises, the possibilities are limitless, but for now Davian McLaren has set his sights on market dominance: “We want to get Jansport and all other foreign bag companies out of Jamaica.”

> Live the ‘Bresheh’ life! Contact the entrepreneurs at 893-9713 or visit www.bresheh.com.






Tuesday, 19 April 2016

LEND ME A TENOR: Mona Campus Male Chorus strike mellifluous notes at UWI Chapel debut recital

LAUGHING MATTER: The choristers enjoy a light moment as they honour their legendary leader.

“This is our first performance and we’re a little nervous.” Thus declared Noel Dexter, under whose directorship the Mona Campus Male Chorus gave their debut performance – ‘Songs of Joy & Inspiration’ – before a packed University Chapel on Sunday evening.

If the boys, smartly attired in red blazers and matching bow ties, white shirts and black pants, had any pre-performance jitters, those quickly ebbed away as they got into their act, delivering an ovation-worthy performance of sacred music, Negro spirituals, folk gems and popular standards – all shaken and stirred to produce a chocolate-y rich, soothing and stirring package.

Think of the University Singers meets Il Divo, with an extra shot of testosterone, and you’d come up with the Mona Campus Male Chorus, a 27-voice aggregation who look good and sound great. Tenors and baritones in glorious harmony.

Mr. Dexter and ace musician Djenne Greaves aside, they have an excellent leader in first tenor Shane Wright, a piano-playing secret weapon whose deft arrangements of a poignant gospel medley (including popular contemporary praise numbers) and the Mother Hen tribute “Because You Love Me” were as tuneful as they were rousing.

That said, there were numerous highlights on the brisk programme that benefitted from two key assets: brevity and balance. The selection of Negro spirituals was divine: reflective takes on “Standin’ In the Need of Prayer” and “Heab’n Heab’n” made way for Dexter’s iconic interpretation of “Psalm 23” and Barry Chevannes’ melodic, drum-assisted “Black Up.” Dr. Kathy Brown arranged for them a jaunty treatment of “Wonderful World, Beautiful People”, while Greaves, a maverick of the neo-modern musical arrangement, served up a medley of the Michael Jackson classics “Man in the Mirror” and “Will You Be There,” beautifully led by Wright as soloist.

But Wright, a son of Clarendon, was not the only star of the show, as soloists like his namesake Shawn Wright, who seems to have a thing for hard-hitting gospel, had his shining moment, as did Ricardo Johnson and Recardo Campbell, among others.

Overall, these talented male singers gave a memorable concert that made it clear that they are here to stay. Hugely enjoyable and full of flavor and powerhouse vocals, the group’s recital underscored the fact that choral music has always been rapturously alive at Mona, but the time has come for a new dimension – the all-male dimension.

> You’ve got male! Connect with the Mona Campus Male Chorus on Instagram at uwimona_malechorus.