Virgin Atlantic Music Festival 2008 – Sunday, November 2nd, 2008
Weekend Blues at Surfer’s Bay Beach Bar Silver Sands Christ Church Barbados.
The final day of the big weekend opening of The Virgin Atlantic Music Festival was held at Surfer’s Bay Beach Bar in Silver Sands. This opening weekend saw all 25 bands perform over the three days.
The stage was built out over the sea, providing a theatrical backdrop as the Atlantic Ocean crashed behind. The gates opened at noon for revelers to get the best spot and settle down for twelve hours of live music and entertainment.
First, up on stage were Broken Chain Links from Barbados, a hard rock band who got the party started with their original songs and beautiful vocals from the female lead singer Rain. This four-piece band comprised of Tear-Head on rhythm guitar and vocals, X on bass and Lexx on drums. Their sound was unique and enjoyed by the audience.
Surfer’s Bay had some bars laid out around the grounds with local bars such as McBride’s, Mojos, Surfer’s Cafe and Bert’s Bar on tour.
Next to hit the stage was Alex Roberts, a singer-songwriter from the UK. Alex is a renowned slide guitarist with two albums out. Alex played his original mellow folk and blues tune for the crowd to enjoy.
After Alex was Eulogy, another Barbadian based hard rock band with Christian MacDonald on lead vocals and Scott Mackenzie. This was their first significant festival as a band, and they didn’t disappoint! Locals have heard the beautiful voice of Christian before as he and Christian work the local circuit as a duet called Indica, but this new dimension with original material and the backing of a full band showed the diversity of Christian’s voice and enthralled the audience.
After two rock bands to get the crowd going next up on stage was Kite, who is based in Barbados but very much an international group. Kite is made up of JJ Poulter and Brian Marshal who have been together for five years.
They have performed all over the world and have won eight international awards for the songwriting and acting talents. They have been nominated for five Barbados Music Awards and have produced two albums and have 24 original songs in their repertoire. They have made two music videos and are enjoying five prime-time TV ad Movie placements. Firefly is currently being used on CBS’ prime-time show, Jericho.
Kite performance at the Virgin Atlantic Music Festival was outstanding with a guest appearance by Billy Kincaid and to add a new flavor to the set they included a steel pan. The crowd was in raptures after their much-anticipated performance.
As the sun set, the crowd were eager for more and next up on stage was Soul Power. Fronted by Ryan Chandler on lead vocals the group were amazed at the showmanship of this energetic performer. Ryan is lead singer with the UK 10 piece band Soulfish who opened the Queens Jubilee at Buckingham Palace and have performed at the BBC Proms in the Park to over 100,000 in Hyde Park, London. Ryan teamed up with leading Barbadian musicians to take the crowd on a trip down memory lane with all the great soul and Motown classics.
The audience was joined by all of the other performing musicians who felt compelled to dance around on the grass and participate in this instant party. Ryan did the splits and showed some very energetic dance moves while continuing to sing and jumped off the stage with his radio microphone and joined in the massive party in the crowd!
Following Soul Power was international reggae singer and songwriter David Kirton, who is based in Barbados but tours the UK and the US on a regular basis. David had fans fly in mainly from the UK to see his performance at the festival. David was joined on stage by Toby Armstrong, one of the island’s most requested guitarists. The audience was delighted with David’s performance as he played some of his most famous tunes such as Green Camouflage and Time for Change.
Next to keep the crowd entertained was the Toby Armstrong Blues Explosion. Lead vocals came from Ricky Barr from Ireland, who performed in last year’s Virgin Atlantic Music Festival. He was backed by Toby Armstrong on lead guitar, Marius Charlemagne on bass and Jamal Browne on drums.
This was the first performance for Toby’s new band, and sadly this was the first time during the entire festival that it rained. This forced everyone to run for cover and huddle together under the beer tents scattered around the grounds. Once everyone was dry, they were then a captive audience to fully appreciate the full-on blues explosion, and they loved what they heard! The band sold CD’s at the event, and they flew off the shelves as everyone tried to capture a memory of the event to take home with them.
With the crowd now enjoying the smooth sound of Remi Martin it was time to bring on the next act Limehouse Lizzy, who is the UK’s leading tribute to Thin Lizzy.
The boys had played a gig in the Isle of Wight the night before, then traveled to Gatwick, jumped on the next Virgin Atlantic flight and touched down in Barbados that afternoon.
So after they unloaded all of their equipment and spoke to the sound engineers, they decided that it would take them at least 45 minutes to set up.
With so many bands that had already played that day and after Limehouse Lizzy there was to be the grand finale with Martin Harley, so the organizers were worried about running over time.
There are stringent noise regulations in Barbados, and as the festival was held in a residential neighborhood, the organizers only had a license to play live music until midnight. Given that Martin Harley set would run for at least an hour they needed to be on stage by 11 pm, and it was now already 10 pm so it would not be possible to let both bands play their full set.
Limehouse Lizzy having just arrived were slated to give another two performances later on in the week so graciously bowed down and let Martin Harley give his final performance before heading off to the Bridgetown Blues Festival in Australia the next day.
The Limehouse Lizzy fans were very disappointed, but as soon as the Martin Harley Band hit the stage, there were quickly enjoying themselves again.
The Martin Harley Band, are a three-person band with a big band sound. They play all original folk, blues, and edgy rock numbers. Martin on lead vocals and slide guitar also gave an outstanding rendition of the Hendrix classic Voodoo Chile.
Giving their fans the final performance for The Virgin Atlantic Music Festival 2008, the Martin Harley Band went all out to ensure all of their favorite songs were played such as Money Don’t Matter, A Thousand Miles of Sky and Grow your Own. Everyone was sorry to say goodbye to the band who have now developed a considerable following in Barbados. They have an uncanny knack of playing their original songs that have you singing along when you have never heard the song before.
All three of their albums, Martin Harley, Money Don’t Matter and Grow Your Own sold out at the festival.