From classical to kaiso

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Nicholas Brancker’s genius-level musical skills took centre stage at Fusions held on the lawns of Ilaro Court last Saturday night. All eyes were on the multi-talented musician and his backing band on a night where not only the steel pan but music reigned as king.

The audience which included: Governor General Dame Sandra Mason, Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley, Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg, who was PM Mottley’s guest, and a number of Cabinet Ministers were serenaded by the Nicholas Brancker Band and Friends along with other supporting acts.

Some patrons sat in chairs on the lawns while others opted to sit on the grounds in the hills. Intermittent rain threatened to dampen the festive mood but to no avail. The entertainment started off with the sweet sounds of Altered 5th and Tuk and Brass, but the toast of the night was Brancker.

The second event of a three-day pan weekend was a potpourri of music which included classical, religious and kaiso. The band gave a jaw-dropping variation of the hymn How Great Thou Art.

Top Trinidadian pannist, Len Boogsie Sharpe, performed during the set. He too was masterful. The highlight of his act was the playing of Pan In A Minor by the late Lord Kitchener. The 65-year-old composer and arranger of steel pan music also did an excellent rendition of Mighty Gabby’s Emmerton.

But Brancker’s time on stage was spent mostly with local acts whom he introduced. Brancker moved with ease from playing guitar to playing the keyboard. The likes of Jamal Slocombe, Adrian Clarke, Mikey, Peter Ram, Joaquin, Biggie Irie, and Lil Rick all performed a mixture of past and present soca hits much to the delight of the crowd. Old-time hits from Ras Iley, Grynner, RPB and Gabby filled the air.

Biggie’s set not only had in his hit songs but it was a throwback session which included legendary songs by Spice & Company. Joaquin sang Serenader’s Breakdown. Party Monarch Mikey and Sweet Soca King Lil Rick performed their own songs. The first half saw them doing the more groovy selections while they increased the pace in the second half.

But the man who ended the second half and closed the show was one of Brancker’s closest friends, Edwin Yearwood. The two delivered a touching version of Moving On, a song penned by Edwin and arranged by Brancker. It was done in memory of all who have contributed to the industry but have subsequently passed away. To close the show, they went Down De Road with Obadele and Yardie but not before Sweatin. Edwin sang Pump Me Up, Wet Me and others as the crowd which was now standing in front of the stage enjoyed the vibes. The night came to a close after midnight. (IMC)

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