February 7, 2007 - #70
Dancing In The Streets With "La Pointe en Mouvement"
About 20 years ago a group of young adults from the neighborhood called "The Point" in Gustavia (on the far side of the harbor near City Hall) started a non-profit association called SB Jam. The Saint Barth reggae band, Irie Bean, was born as a result, as well as La Pointe en Mouvement (The Point In Movement), and numerous other events organized by the association, such as the Easter Sunset Concert at Shell Beach, and the summer festival in Gustavia. Over the years, La Pointe en Mouvement has become the soul of Carnival in Saint Barth as well. "Keeping local culture and Carnival traditions alive" is the leitmotiv of group, which currently has about 30 members. As of mid-January, they play drums and dance to West Indian rhythms in the streets of Gustavia on the Sunday afternoons leading up to Mardi Gras. Each parade has a different theme for the costumes, taken from cultural references as well as everyday issues: earth and leaves, trash from the ocean, African warriors, etc. The day before Mardi Gras, they traditionally parade in pajamas, and on Ash Wednesday, they march through the streets once again, dressed in black and white, to burn an effigy of Vaval (the Carnival king) on Shell Beach. To construct the costumes, everybody lends a hand, and even the boys are taught how to use the sewing machine. When time allows, each member stops by the atelier, the "home" of the association — a small green house or "case"— in Gustavia behind the little fruit market. This space gives the association a place to meet and store their musical instruments, the fabulous drums that give rhythm to their parades. Approximately 15 musicians play a style of Caribbean music that is based on percussion and the voice. Four bass drums, three contrabass drums, four mid-range drums, several high-pitch drums, two conch shell players, two who play wooden sticks, and several maraca players: all of the instruments are handmade by the group using recycled materials. Last year, La Pointe en Mouvement created a t-shirt with a very explicit logo: percussion players surrounded by a line in the Rastafarian colors of red, green, and yellow creating the geographic shape of the island, and the strong message (in Creole) "the heart doesn't see color".
No dance concerts for the 23rd edition of the St. Barth Music Festival, but for the first time, there was a rock concert on the two-week program, featuring NYCO, a band from Chicago formed by Ted Atkatz, one of the musicians who has performed in the festival regularly for years. Ted decided to take a pause in his career as a percussionist with the Chicago Symphony and trade his tympanis for an electronic keyboard and acoustic Gibson. On stage, the group consists of drummer Devin Staples, bassist David Del Ciello, guitarist Anthony Gravino, and Ted Atkatz as vocalist, keyboards, and guitar, as well as the composer of the 11 songs on their first album, which was well received by the critics. This free concert, the first outside the US for NYCO, was held on January 27 at Zion Garden in Saline. The profits from the bar, organized by the members of the music school, St. Barth Harmony, will be used for classes for music students. Also new this year, is the new website for the festival — www.stbartsmusicfestival.org — created by American cartoonist Dan Piraro, who performed in the children's concert last year. More than 60 musicians were in Saint Barth for the festival, including soloists from The Metropolitan Opera in New York, the Lyric Opera of Chicago, La Scala in Milan, and such leading orchestras as Montreal, Boston, New York, Chicago, Pittsburgh, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, London, and Paris. The festival opened on January 23 with a double-header by John Ellis Jazz Quartet with Jason Marsalis on drums, and closed on February 2 with an opera evening featuring Jane Thorngren, Walter MacNeil, David Small, Grant Youngblood, and Tonio di Paulo singing excerpts from I Pagliacci by Ruggiero Leoncavallo, under the direction of maestro Richard Buckley.
Web site : www.stbartsmusicfestival.org
St-Barth To Become An Overseas Collectivity
After the bills concerning the creation of Overseas Collectivities in Saint Barth and Saint Martin were passed in the French Senate on October 31 2006 and by those present at the National Assembly on January 24, 2007, the texts of the law were approved by a bi-partisan commission of seven senators and the same number of deputies. Since this political evolution for the islands has been given fast-track priority, the definitive vote by the two chambers of the French Parliament should take place during February, and the texts will be sent on to the Constitutional Council before the end of the month.