Date: Saturday 23rd & Sunday 24th May 2009
Location: The Masquerade. Atlanta, GA
Promotions: Atlanta Carnival, LLC
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Veteran Atlanta promoter, Wasi Philbert, has done it again. With such events as 'Soca In the City' and 'Jazz in The City', laying credit to his name, it was no surprise that the 1st ever Caribbean Festival Village would kick off in fine style.
As we arrived the venue, we were astonished to see that a place like this even existed in Atlanta. Wow ... absolutely beautiful. To best describe it, we have to do a list check off. So here goes ... security, entrance, parking, bars, food, indoor facility, main stage, restrooms, VIP area, and not to mention ... enough room to party. Complimenting the setting, were a cast of top line entertainers. Everything was set. After speaking with Wasi, the intent behind the Caribbean Festival Village was to present a family type setting where parents and children can spend quality time together, while enjoying the culture of the Caribbean. The fortune of it all, is that this event was over a two day period where patrons could have a chance to enjoy all of the above, two days in a row ... a first of it's kind in Atlanta!
Another aspect of the event were the 'workshops' put in place to entertain the children. Workshop featured the likes of the original 'Batman,' a character once introduced as one of the founding masqueraders that roamed the streets during carnival time in Trinidad. Portrayed by Matthew Whiley, the 'Batman' character kept the children enticed and occupied for a few hours. There was even a costume building workshop, a 'Moko Jumbie' workshop and our favorite - a cooking workshop put on by Calabash Kitchen. Yum Yummmm ... niceeeee!!!! And by the way, talking about food, Tassa Roti Shop was also on the premises.
Though we got there early on both days, the rain didn't do promoters any favors by coming down in buckets. On the other hand, and certainly a plus to the Atlanta Carnival, LLC team, were the number of volunteers on hand to ensure that things went smoothly. Event coordinator, Yana Cooke, had everything under control ... from where TJJ were to where we needed to be - it was serious organization! Yana, great job x2!!
On Day 1, before the backing band started up, DJ Stephen and a host of other DJ's kept things going. The Cutters Riddim Section out of New York struck up a tune and didn't stop until the end of the day's events. As the patrons came strolling in, it was time for the live performances, and who else better to kick things off than Jadine 'The Soca Diva' representing Montserrat. Jadine brought the numbers from afar to front and center waving their Caribbean colours. Patch, de Commess in De Place Man' was next with his hit tune for 2009 "Rum and Roti". After that, things began to flow. Next was Peter Ram, Skinny Fabulous and last but not least, Mr. Iwer George with his "Ready, ready, ready. ready, ready, ready, ready, ready, ready AND Wine, wine, wine, wine, wine, wine, wine" selections. And as timely as he could be, as soon as he started his 2005 hit song "Water", it was rain for so ... and we not joking! The good part was that no one wanted to leave. It was almost as if the rain made things better!
Day 2 was history in the making, not just for TJJ, but for the patrons. Like the day before, the workshops were in session and the vendors were all present. The vendor stall 'Maracus Bay' had a long line of patrons waiting for their many Trinidad delicacies available. Culture Dan kicked things off on Sunday evening, a much more relaxed day. However, the rain started again. By this time, and probably for the first time in many years, patrons would see two veteran calypso singers gracing the stage - The Mighty Shadow and Black Stalin. But the rain came down before they could get to the stage. In stepped in TJJ to the rescue, who offered to shelter them in our vehicle. That's right! We even got to do a "5 Minutes With" interview with them. By the time the interview and the rain was over, we were surprised to see a large crowd gathered in front of the stage waiting for them to perform. In Shadow's words, "I ready for the people, because I am sure they are ready for me!" So as the rain held up, Hunter kicked things off again. Black Stalin then rocked the house ... especially with his classic "Tonight De Black Man Feeling to Party". This just opened the doors for Shadow as he, decked in an all black suit (as always), with dreads hanging on either side of his shoulder, had an aura about him that was just spectacular. Shadow closed the show with a huge round of applause from the crowd, who braved the weather to be there for him.
As the night came to a close, we could say, "All is well, that ends well." A great show, with great performances, by first class entertainers. The organization for this 2-day event was on point and the promoters did a good job overall. We actually believe this event can become more successful and have greater impact as a one day event, held on the Memorial Sunday. This way, the promoter can capitalize on being the only day event. Nonetheless, we had a great time!!
Atlanta Carnival, LLC, thanks again for inviting us. Also, a special thanks to our associate rep, Nikki, who helped out a great deal over the weekend. With the first Caribbean Festival Village in the books, we are certainly looking forward to next year!