Friday July 4th 2014
July 4th was the L’Acadco Drum Xplosion Show and July 5th was the book launch of Soul Casing by Dr. L’Antoinette Stines & L’Acadco Dance show.
The rehearsals restarted a week before the shows after a long pause: after quite a few L’Acadco members were on tour in Japan and returned just in time. The first rehearsal was Saturday following their arrival; 11 am bright and early people started showing up at Studio. By 11:30 everyone had arrived, greeted the members that we’d missed then jumped feet first into the rehearsal for the dance show. 2 hours of sweat, laughter and tired bodies later the dancers got a break.
Soon it was time for the drummers to take our leave, to rehearse for our own show. Everyone tried to pile into Obi’s pickup truck in an extraordinary fashion: drums, bodies, bicycles, sticks, shakers, bells and all. Alas it was impossible, so Drummy & Jeffery removed their bicycles (yes! 2 bicycles) from the back and rode to the venue instead. The trunk of the van had the Djun Djuns, Chippy’s drum, the bass drum, Reuel’s drum, Hakeem, Meikle, Reuel, Green and Cespo who had the percussion instruments in his bag. I sat in the middle of the van with Chippy to my left and Shane on my right, holding his drum across both of our laps. Obi was in the driver’s seat and Jody luckily got the passenger’s seat; she held Obi’s drum between her legs. When everyone was settled and comfortable (as much as was possible) we were off to the Ranny Williams Entertainment Centre!
Our first order of business was to discuss the show. Stress was riding high in the air as this was the first full drumming show in Jamaica. The weight was on our shoulders, especially Chippy & Shane’s as the main planners. After discussing the running order of the show we started to rehearse, going through every piece as if it were the night of the show. We rehearsed for a couple of hours until it was time to wrap up rehearsal and get some food. Rehearsals went well but we were nowhere near ready for the show.
• • •
The next rehearsal was the following day, a technical rehearsal, at 11 at the Phillip Sherlock Centre for Creative Arts (where the shows were held.)
Rehearsal was interesting, we got to see the dance show as if we were members of the audience.
• • •
The following Wednesday was our technical rehearsal, it was supposed to start at 6pm but being Jamaicans, we were late so we began at 6:30 instead. we ran the show, on stage for the first time, so the backstage crew could mark the stage and the lightening technicians could work their magic. Alas we had many corrections, and when we finished the first half of the show we had to run it from top with the corrections in place. By the time we finished the first half we were drained from the day’s work and from rehearsal; we took a 10 minute break before starting the second half of the show. The second half needed just as many corrections as the first half but tie did not permit a re-run because it was already after 10 and the theatre had to be closed.
• • •
The next day drummers simply could not attend An Intimate Moment with L’Acadco (the first day of the little season) as we just were not ready for the show. It was an invitation only event with members of the press to talk about L’Acadco over the years and about Dr. Stines’ book Soul Casing. While all this was happening we were in Phillip Sherlock at 6 pm with persons late again; at 6:30 we promptly began. First on the agenda was the second half of the show with the corrections in it; then we did the whole show from beginning to end without a pause. By the end we were exhausted but proud as the show we did was ready for lights and an audience. To our dismay we couldn’t leave after that we had to sort out costumes for all 14 drummers for the different performances. Some of us were laying or sitting on the stage at odd angles while others were getting cozy in the audience seating. Shane called out the names of the pieces and whoever was in that piece raised their hand, then Chippy decided the costume for the piece; this happened for all the necessary pieces. Then we could finally circle (pray) and head home.
• • •
I woke excited despite being sleepier than a Snorlax, today was the day of L’Acadco Drum Xplosion’s first full drummer’s show and we were ready. A rare occurrence on that day, I, Rashida Tahirah Grant, was early; at 5 on the dot I was inside Phillip Sherlock. Shane and Taryn were already there, not too long after more drummers trickled in until we were all there.
Did we not get the memo? Get into costume as soon as possible. I’ve learned my lesson, when you have a show you won’t look too eager by getting ready earlier rather than later. At 7:20 the persons in the first piece didn’t have on their costumes. By 7:30 the nerves kicked in, the spacious dressing room felt packed as we were all rushing to lay out costumes and change all at once. Jodi and I had our makeup to do and even that precise activity had to be rushed.
At minutes to 8 everyone was dressed and backstage, which was above the dressing room. There was nearly silence backstage as we shared a few words of encouragement with each other sealing it with a hug or lion paw. Backstage was dark with lights shining only on the stage, my heart was pounding in my chest, you could hear the shuffling of feet from beyond the curtain as the audience filed in. About 5 minutes later the national anthem played to start the program.
Director of L’Acadco, Dr. L’Antoinette Stines, was in the audience.
Our host Ms. Amina Blackwood-Meeks…
…did the narration for the night.
The curtains opened as we marched onto the stage singing the starting kumina song, then setting into place with Cespo on cast, Hakeem on tap tap, Jovan on catta sticks, Reuel on grater, Green and myself on shakers while Jody danced. We portrayed an authentic kumina scene, singing the songs and dancing to the riddim created by our combined instruments.
Off the stage and down the stairs I went, running to the dressing to change for the next piece I was in. My heart was still racing but now a smile formed on my face, the first piece was perfect! After changing I looked at the running order then went back upstairs to see…
With Dash on tambourine leading the line, Chippy, Shane, Meikle and Drummy on a small drum, sangban & kenkini, cabasa and shakers respectively marched around the stage anticlockwise singing old revival songs. Followed by…
In front of the curtains a couple Father Ho-Long monks sang another version of revival, showing the audience Jamaica’s diverse culture. While they performed we set the stage for the next piece…
Obi on a repeater was the north point on this 6 point star, Meikle to the east on repeater, Cespo on bass south-east, Hakeem on shakers as the south point, Chippy to the south-west on bass, Shane as the final point on a repeater and Jovan in the centre waving a flag. They played and sang a multitude of Rastafari songs. Which was followed by a small segment…
Miss Amina asked the audience the names of the kumina drums. Then the curtains opened on…
Reuel, Obi, and Dash were on djembes, Drummy was on bass, Jody danced with her bell and I was on a conga drum. We showed another traditional (Jamaican) riddim with the vibrant singing and dancing that went along with it. Another is…
Shane played on an aluminum tin, Chippy on dununba and Green played shakers while Cespo, Jovan and Hakeem danced. They picked out three beautiful ladies from the audience to dance with and the best dancer won the scarf. This concluded the educational section of the program.
Djembe Solo: Echoes
This was the musical stylings by Reuel on his djembe. Followed by…
DjunDjun Duet: Wimbo
Cespo and Drummy’s djun djun duet, the djun djun is made up of three drums: the dununba (bass,) the sangban (middle toned) and the kenkeni (the smallest & highest pitched.) The crowd roared for this piece, the ladies especially. Which flowed into…
A piece showcasing the log drum a.k.a. the krin. Dash played a flute, Jodi and I held percussion, bell and shakers respectively while Obi, Chippy and Shaned played krins. The piece that closed the first half of the show was…
Initiation held the entire cast, adorned in full while playing a lively riddim,
By the time intermission rolled around the nerves had vanished, all that could be felt was joy because the show was going well and excitement to finish it. Protoje was playing throughout the theatre during the intermission and that became some of the drummers time to shine, we were backstage singing along, not very quietly might I add, until Taryn put a stop to the choir. That didn’t down our mood, the vibes were still high and we were ready to go out with a Bang!
Reuel and Drummy opened the second half of the show with their duet. Next up was…
Afro Caribbean Latin: Jatin Beat
Obi on congas, Shane on shakers, Dash on trumpet, Meikle on bell, Hakeem on cow bell and Chippy on congas as well, this latin beat had everyone grooving and us backstage attempting to salsa. 5, 6, 7, and…
The entire cast did this next item, it was a high energy piece with us playing and dancing, with a short excerpt from Magalenha song. Then it slowed down to…
Band Piece: Easy Stepping
Dburns and the flash mob band did a Jazzy number which preceded the finale…
Grand Drum Piece: Umoja
Djembe men in yellow, Bass men in red and Percussionists in Green pants. Our finale.
We brought our director on stage to thank her, and we closed the show just like a L’Acadco dance show by creating a circle with the audience and praying.
This show really was a night to remember, it was so tiring but it was truly fun. Planning a full drummer’s show was no joke and it turned out really well, though stressful we would definitely do it again.