'VINTAGE' SPLENDOUR: The iconic choir has a song for every occasion.
WITH every performance of the Jamaican Folk Singers, who mount an annual concert season in September, you are compellingly reminded of the rich diversity of the Jamaican folk songbook. You are convinced that there’s a song for every occasion – from the festive to the mournful, from hard labour to leisure and playtime.
But for the 2018 season, dubbed “Vintage Folk,” the iconic 20-member choir took it up a notch, infusing their presentation (divided into two parts) with rousing community-theatre spirit and infectious energy, pulling the audience into the celebration. Paula Shaw’s apt choreography nicely complemented the lovely blend of voices.
The song selections ranged from witty gems about domestic drama, suss and rivalry to nosy neighbours and characters as colourful and unforgettable as “that wutliss dry-yeye gal Fanny,” the brats who love to “peep inna mi pot pon fire” and poor young Helena, who mistakes poisonous bush for cerasee to cure her belly ache.
The Singers, whose speedy costume changes went from a bandana-and-white ensemble to semi-formal attire, dipped into the archives to deliver nicely arranged pieces offering sage advice (“Don’t board the wrong train!”), exploring our food culture (“Mango Time,” “Linstead Market”) and steeped in bans o’ excitement (“Sweepstake”).
A handful of children joined the performance for the History, Bible Knowledge and Geography lessons, which came at the top of the second half. That segment made way for some mento quadrille and contra quadrille, with the seven-piece band (drummers and guitarists) serving up a spirited interlude as they got their time in the spotlight.
With the Yuletide season fast approaching, the Singers closed the curtains with a couple of stirring Jamaican favourites – “Christmus A Come” and “Run Come Quick.” Truly, the Jamaican Folk Singers’ repertoire holds a song for every occasion.