The 16th edition of the World Creole Music Festival kicked off on Friday evening with a night of Bouyon, Compas and Zouk.
Despite complaints of a poor line up, the night featured a series of electrifying performances which had patrons constantly on their feet and moving to the beats.
First up for the night was Martinique Zouk artiste Thierry Marthély. He had his work cut out for him because when he started out the venue was practically empty and he had to get the juices flowing. Relatively unknown among Zouk fans, the artiste had one thing on his side: he is the brother of the well-known Jean-Philippe Marthély, one of the core members of the legendary group, Kassav.
Marthély’s performance was suprisingly good. He whipped the growing crowd into a frenzy with a series of Zouk and Compas songs which actually had patrons asking for more.
And that was just the beginning for Disip Gazzman of Haiti followed with an appearance that was to get more energy flowing with some good Compas performances. Off to a slow start the rhythm soon picked up and Compas’ trademark sounds of the sax and guitar soon filled the air. Lead singer Gazzman Couleur, actually mingled with the crowd and was lifted into the air and was carried, almost ceremoniously, around the front of the stage.
The early part of the night was topped off with the appearance of the energetic local Bouyon star, Asa Banton who obviously had a great impact on the crowd. One of his performances included throwing bottles of water into the crowd and the water was then thrown into the air upon command, giving one the impression that they were in the middle of a rain storm.
But what really had Zouk connoisseurs on their toes in excitement were performances from two well-known voices from the golden age of Zouk: Tanya Saint Val and Zouk Machine.
Zouk Machine exploded on the Zouk scene in the heydey of the genre. It was a time when the French Antilles airwaves were saturated with music from diverse groups and individuals such as Ronald Rubinel, Malavoi, Edith Lefel, Annick et Jean Claude, Experience 7 among others which has now been lumped into what is popularly known today as Zouk Retro.
In that mix emerged the all-girl band Zouk Machine whose popularity soared into the stratosphere with smash hit Maldon in 1989. The single sold over a million copies and the band’s reputation was sealed. Although the band has since broken up the appearance of Christiane Obydol, an original member, was a good treat. Her performance was lively enough and brought back many memories of the days when Zouk ruled supreme.
Not to be out-done, Tanya Saint Val put on a lively, exciting appearance. Saint Val started her career by touring with Zouk Machine and Experience 7 and has since etched her name in the annals of Zouk history. Her voice was clear and penetrating despite 22 years of singing and performances.
And then there was Luc Leandry, another voice from the golden age of Zouk, who gained popularity in the late 1980’s with his debut album, Fanm bo Kannal. Leandry’s performance, along with Stephane Ravor provided a nostalgic-like Zouk atmosphere which gave the impression that you were back in he late 80’s and early ’90s when Zouk was king.
The night came to an end with WCK which is without doubt among Dominica’s top bands and one of the pioneers of Bouyon music. With a combination of old and new hits the group was able to keep patrons rocking into the wee hours of the morning.
The first night of WCMF was undoubtedly a Zouk lover’s dream come true and a fitting tribute to Jeff Jo the legend, whose name was never far from the lips of the performers who took to the stage.