For over three decades the Village Drums of Freedom of St James have been involved in the preservation of local culture and community service. Beginning tonight the group presents its annual cultural festival at the Ellie Mannette Park, St James. The weekend of activities free to the public offers a Film Night, Reggae Fest, Children's Treat and a Culture Fest.
One of the founding members of the Village Drums of Freedom, Nyron Greenidge told the Express the annual event is one that comes out of love for the people and passion for the culture of this nation. He said it's always very challenging to present the events, but the group has never and will never give up in the face of whatever obstacles that are there.
"This is something that we all put our hearts and souls into and there are people who come and lend assistance just so. Musicians and artistes come from all over the country to perform here year after year and give something to the people all out of love. This is all about keeping the culture alive and showing the children and the youths that they have a wonderful culture that can give them something positive and keep them away from evil," Greenidge said.
One of the highlights of this year's Culture Fest is going to be the performance of reigning International Power Soca Monarch and National Road March champion, SuperBlue who has always been a part of the festival. He will be performing on Sunday night and is expected to deliver a concert performance just as he always has over the years.
"SuperBlue told us that he will grieve if he does not reach here on Sunday. I know about the issue with his management and promoters during Carnival, but over the years Super has always come and performed for the show no matter what was his situation. We are all like brothers and he used to live with us back in the day when we were in New York and he came up. There is a strong bond between us that has always lasted in the times when he was up and also in his down times," Greenidge said.
Incidentally February 28 marks the tenth anniversary of the passing of Andre Tanker who was also very close to Greenidge and other members of the Village Drums of Freedom. The iconic musician has been greatly missed and Greenidge said every time the festival comes around they all remember Tanker who was to them a big brother and cherished friend.
"You know, we were there with Andre on his first album? We moved with Andre wherever he was performing in those days and he is a real important fella in this entire thing we have. He and Jerry (Jerry Archee, another founding member of the group) were really close and they used to also be together a lot."
"When we were kids, Andre used to be walking around with a harmonica in one pocket, a flute in a next pocket and his guitar. When we had lil concerts in school or the community centre, Andre always ready to back up anybody who wanted to perform and needed music. We always had full respect for Andre and it real mash us up when he died. This is a thanksgiving to the ancestors and Andre among them so we give him thanks," Greenidge said.
The Film Night tonight will feature at the Ellie Mannette Park films on the history of the steelband movement, calypso music and also features on African history and culture as it relates to Trinbago. The Reggae Fest will feature performances by local reggae artistes; Jah Melody, Isasha and others as well as Ras Jappa from New York, USA who will have some friends with him.
Live bands performing include Buzz Rock and Black Beat International. The line-up of sound systems features; Lion King, Black Chariot, Forward Strong International and Royalty.
The treat for children is from 3 p.m. on Sunday and they will be entertained by junior calypsonians and other performers. The Culture Fest gets on the way from 7 p.m. and this will feature drum ensembles, dance troupes and other performers from various communities across the island. Also scheduled to perform are; Black Stalin, Brother Mudada, Brother Resistance, Karega Mandela, Crazy, Kurt Allen, Singing Sandra, Phase II Pan Groove and Scrunters Pan Groove among others.