Almost 20 years ago I was playing at the Saint Lucia Jazz Festival with Robert Greenidge and Ray Holman and the festival sent us to a little village in the south to play a free concert for the people there. That was my first visit to Laborie. Everyone had a great time and three brave guys – Yves Renard, Len Leonce, and Augustin Barthelmy – decided to keep the music going and launched Jazz in the South, an alternative festival featuring Caribbean and African musicians.
In 2010 Yves came our house and asked me to be the patron of the festival, be involved with promotion, and perform. Since then, I’ve played there with Relator and the University of Calypso, Sakésho, and have played as a guest with Pedrito Martinez, Fatoumata Diawara, Meddy Gerville, Dennis Rollins, Tania St. Val, and my students — the Laborie Steel Pan Project. I started teaching them in 2011 and now we have both senior and junior (7–12 year old) steel bands. This year the big kids won Saint Lucia Panorama, pulling off a huge upset against the big bands from Castries.
Anita and I fell in love with Laborie and have spent a good part of every winter there since 2011. We now have our own place and Laborie is home for us. Here’s a video featuring Anita’s photos of laundry lines in the village. The music is ‘Abacoco,’ from the album ‘Dis 1. 4. Raf.’
We’re launching a steel band and Brasilian Percussion program in Laborie, Saint Lucia – January 4–15, 2017. Check it out on Facebook here.
I’m happy to say that Jason Koontz – Director of Percussion Studies at Eastern Kentucky University – is working with me again. He’ll be coordinating the program and teaching Brasilian percussion.