Island Beat (May/June 1999)

What's hot and happening in the islands

  • Illustration as Russel Halfide
  • Illustration as Russel Halfide
  • Boats at the 1998 Antigua Sailing Week. This year's festival ended at the beginning of May. Photograph by Melanie Etherington
  • Illustration as Russel Halfide
  • Illustration as Russel Halfide
  • Illustration as Russel Halfide
  • Illustration as Russel Halfide
  • Carnival. Illustration as Russel Halfide

Carnival is traditionally a pre-Lenten celebration, but in the summer months, many North American and European visitors arrive on our shores for their annual vacations, making it a good time for another round of Carnivals. This year there are some 16 summer Carnivals to attract holiday-makers, more than in February. They all have their own exciting individual style, whether Barbados’s Crop Over or the Bahamas’s Junkanoo. A Carnival in the Caribbean is unlike any other celebration: musical, eye-popping experiences laced with the world’s best rum and flavoured by its most eclectic cuisine.

Take your pick and try out a new one — or a first one.

April/May: Barbuda; Cayman Islands; Jamaica; Puerto Rico; Sint Maarten; St Thomas

July/August: Anguilla; Antigua; Barbados; Cuba; Grenada; Nevis; Saba; Sint Eustatius; St Lucia; St Vincent and the Grenadines; Turks & Caicos Islands


Clapton’s crossroads

Standing at the crossroads

trying to read the signs

to tell me which way I should go to find the answer . . .

Wheels of Fire by Eric Clapton

In the 1970s Eric Clapton stood at the crossroads: fall further into the abyss of heroin addiction, or do something about it. With the help of friends, receiving electro-acupuncture therapy, and working as a labourer in Wales, Clapton took the right turning and recovered. One day he simply decided he was better and boarded a train to London where he told his manager, Robert Stigwood, he was ready to record an album. 461 Ocean Boulevard was a great success; his version of Bob Marley’s I Shot The Sheriff, a huge hit

Since then Clapton has supported many charitable projects, especially those concerned with alcohol and drug addictions. He has a house in Antigua and in 1995 decided he wanted to give something back to the people of the Caribbean: to help addicts in the West Indies and beyond. The result is the Crossroads Centre at Willoughby Bay, Antigua, which was opened in October 1998. Described as an international non-profit facility for the treatment of alcohol and other drug dependencies, a third of Crossroads’ 36 beds are reserved for people of the region.

For those in the Caribbean unable to afford the US$9,000 per month fee — which is most — a scholarship fund has been established to enable them to receive some of the best treatment money can buy. Fund-raising activities and the fee-paying clients of Crossroads, most of whom come from the UK, USA, Canada, and Europe, in effect pay for the scholarships. Anyone over 18 can be referred to the Centre.

Typically, fee-paying guests at Crossroads are from the middle-upper income bracket. According to Anne Vance, the CEO of Crossroads, alcohol and drug addiction in the middle and upper classes is a serious and largely hidden problem. She said figures showed that the cost to US employers of workers with chemical dependencies was US$33 billion per annum, and that a third of all hospital patients were there due to alcohol or drug-related problems.

Asked to help set up Crossroads by Eric Clapton, Anne Vance is highly experienced in the administration of programmes for the treatment of people with alcoholic, drug, and other dependencies. She was the administrator of the Betty Ford Clinic, and has worked around the world setting up support programmes. At a recent seminar held by Crossroads in Trinidad, she emphasised that recovery from drug or alcohol abuse at the Centre was aimed at reintegrating the patient back into society. Residential treatment in the correct environment, followed by a year-long Aftercare Programme, was one of the best ways of achieving this.

Residential treatment allows the patient to be away from an unhealthy lifestyle and lasts typically 28-30 days at Crossroads, but is tailored to the individual. Family members get involved during the first week; there are rehabilitation programmes where abstinence from all mood-altering substances is emphasised; family and nutrition counselling, group therapy, massage therapy, exercise, lectures and meditation are other methods employed by a large team of doctors, nurses and therapists.

If you, or someone you know, has an alcohol or drug-related problem, take the right turning and contact Crossroads. It’s worth remembering that by helping yourself you’ll also be helping those who literally can’t afford to. Crossroads Centre, Willoughby Bay, PO Box W219, Woods Centre, Antigua. Tel. (268) 562-0035, fax 562-0036

Look out for . . . Antigua Tennis Week May 9-16

Fancy your chances of humbling Hingis? Nailing Navotna? Slaughtering Sampras? Well, that may be aiming high, but after a week of clinics and competitions at the 25th Antigua Tennis Week, glory and grand slams back at your local tennis club could well be on the cards.

Curtain Bluff Resort’s Tennis Week features Australian tennis legend Fred Stolle, a winner of 18 Grand Slam titles who appeared in more Wimbledon finals than any other man; Ross Case, Wimbledon and Australian Open Doubles Champion; and Owen Davidson, the Australian Davis Cup player and winner of 13 Grand Slam titles. Along with resident professional Rennie George, these tennis aces will demonstrate and coach you through a fun-filled week of tennis in a very agreeable setting. Just think how jealous members back home will be of your tan and, hopefully, your serve.

For information and reservations telephone Curtain Bluff Hotel (268) 462-8400


Singing sweet praises

Gospel music has been popular in the Caribbean for over 20 years and has become even more so in recent times with the growth of evangelical television beamed by cable from the USA. Christian revivalist events and miracle crusades draw numbers most cricket and football bodies would envy.

At Barbados’s Gospelfest, the unadulterated energy and joy of the world’s best Gospel choirs and vocalists is brought to bear on an audience needing no conversion. The appeal of Gospel music has gone way beyond the traditional Christian church and is an important cog within the music industry machine.

Formed as a festival in 1993, Gospelfest was launched as a tourism product which encompassed Caribbean reggae and calypso as well as traditional gospel music. It has been marked by large numbers of young Barbadians dancing and singing their praises to God. Gospelfest has showcased much of the genre’s greatest talent and helped bring local artists like Joseph Niles, Promise, Paula Hinds and Tony Lowe to the attention of a much wider audience.

This year’s festival includes a sunset concert, a battle of the choirs, an international Get Ready I concert featuring Donnie McClurkin and Keith Staten from the USA, and Get Ready II with Alvin Slaughter of the USA and Joseph Niles of Barbados. Venues include the National Stadium and the Sir Garfield Sobers Sports Complex. May 23-30

Look out for . . . Mount Gay International Boatyard Regatta May 28-31

Four days of hotly-contested boat races, parties and beach activities.


Jazz with spice

A celebration of the Spice Island’s special cuisine, with jazz music to make the mouth water too. The festival begins with a free concert on May 20; May 21: Cyrus Chestnut and Raf Robertson; May 22: Rachelle Ferrell and David “Fat Head” Newman; May 23: George Duke, Bronx Horns, Roger Gittens.

Look out for . . .

• Spice Jazz Festival, May 20–23

• Whitsuntide Games, May 22–23


Blue notes over the bay

The Ocho Rios Jazz Festival is one of the best of the many Caribbean jazz festivals that adorn the musical calendar. Now in its ninth year, it’s the brainchild and passion of Jamaican bandleader Sonny Bradshaw, who produces and directs the festival, and his jazz-singing wife Myrna Hague. Growing by the year, the Ocho Rios Jazz Festival now encompasses most of Jamaica’s popular holiday areas: Montego Bay and Negril, as well as Kingston.

Sonny Bradshaw’s status as musician and leader of the Jamaica Big Band has ensured a steady stream of jazz’s most accomplished talent appearing at the festival. Past performers have included Herbie Mann, James Moody, Cahrley Byrd, Rufus Harley, Monty Alexander, Arturo Sandoval, Etta Jones, Stanley Jordan, T. S. Monk and Jimmy McGriff.

Artists confirmed for this year are the New York Jazz Times Trumpeter of the Year, Roy Hargrove, as well as their Best Male Vocalist, Kevin Mahogany; the Ramsey Lewis Group; saxophonist Archie Shepp; Dr Lonnie Smith and his All Star Group; Puerto Rican Latin jazz from Jerry Gonzales and the Fort Apache Band; English vocalist Elaine Delmar; Philadelphia blues singer Barbara Walker; renowned banjo player Alison Brown; and the Lee Strawford Sextet from Holland. Caribbean performers include Sonny Bradshaw and the Jamaica Big Band; Jamaican pianist Monty Alexander; saxophonist Arturo Tappin of Barbados; steel pan jazz from Othello Mollineaux; and Jamaica’s leading vocalists Myrna Hague and Karen Smith.

A feature of the 1999 festival is ska, ably presented by the popular Coyabalites. And there’s a Night of the Blues at the Jamaica Grand Festival Village in Ocho Rios featuring Dr Hector and Goove Injectors, and various Chicago Blues guests. Futher information from the Jazz Centre: tel. and fax (876) 927-3544, website: June 13-20


St Lucia jazz

An eclectic feast of jazz by the sea, under a blue sky and twinkling stars, the St Lucia Jazz Festival is another of the Caribbean’s premier music festivals. Many performances are held outdoors at lunchtimes in Castries — a favourite venue is the Derek Walcott Square. The main venue is Pigeon Island, where the stage is set on the edge of a cliff against a backdrop of waves crashing on rocks. Everyone sits, or dances, on a grassy, gently downward-sloping hill, a truly inspirational spot in which to perform.

Though technically a jazz festival, St Lucia’s biggest musical event draws a wide range of performers not necessarily know as jazz musicians, like Carlos Santana, for example. This year, artists include ex-Commodore Lionel Richie, Patti LaBelle, and the South African vocal group Ladysmith Black Mambazo, made famous by Paul Simon on his Graceland album. Headlining at Pigeon Island is the evergreen, emotionally charged Roberta Flack.

For jazz purists, this year’s festival showcases one of the genre’s most exceptional vocal talents: Diane Schuur has been compared to Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan. “To put it mildly, Schuur blew the place away. The room shook. The evening came alive” — so said the New York Post.

Another jazz great appearing is drummer Elvin Jones, whose work was described by Newsweek as “sonatas for drums, exploring rhythms the way other instruments explore melodies”. Known as the leader of the Elvin Jones Jazz Machine, his touring group, he’s an active composer, arranger and producer, and has performed in over 40 countries.

Also appearing at this year’s festival: the saxophonist son of John Coltrane, Ravi Coltrane; Loston Harris; David Sanborn; Deborah Cox; Nestor Torres; Olu Dara; Equinox; Tamara St Marthe; Bob James; Jon Lucien; Freddie Jackson; and James Moody. May 11-15


Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum

Aptly sponsored by a rum company, the Angostura Yachting World Regatta weighs anchor May 9–14 off Crown Point, Tobago. For exciting racing, beautiful locations and great beach parties — the place to be is this, “the friendliest regatta in the Caribbean”. Races take place off Tobago’s south-west coast on different courses each day. For entry into the Regatta and other information, check out the Trinidad and Tobago Yachting Association website at or tel. (868) 634-4519

If you’ve always fancied racing in the Caribbean but can’t afford the boat, or to bring it with you, then why not charter one for the Angostura Yachting World Regatta? Merriweather Racing has a fleet of Henderson 30 asymmetric sports boats (Sailing World’s 1997 “Boat of the Year”) which can be crewed by eight people. They look after the boat, prepare it, etc, and you have all the fun.

For cost and other info, e-mail them at Website:


Queens of the universe

This is, quite simply, the biggest media event ever to hit the twin — island republic. It is estimated that over 2.5 billion people will tune in to see Miss Universe of 1998, Trinidad’s Wendy Fitzwilliam, crown the 1999 winner at Chaguaramas on May 26. With some 700 syndicated TV stations and media houses purchasing rights for broadcasts and rebroadcasts, it’s reckoned that the Miss Universe Pageant 1999 will bring in an additional one billion viewers. Add a potential Internet audience of another 150 million, and it’s easy to see why the Government of Trinidad and Tobago bid so strongly to host the event. The world is about to wake up to the charms of Trinidad and Tobago.

Carlos John, Executive Chairman of the Trinidad and Tobago Pageant Co. Ltd. and Chairman of TIDCO, the Tourism and Industrial Development Company of Trinidad and Tobago, said the Pageant will provide the country with unprecedented international exposure, and a golden opportunity to highlight its tourism product: its cultural diversity and natural attractions

The audience will also be tuning into a show that is far more than a mere beauty parade. The Pageant can be as exciting as any penalty shoot-out, especially if your girl is on target. Even in this cynical age, for many countries, winning Miss Universe or Miss World is still something to be proud of. Trinis are certainly proud: they’ve won Miss Universe twice, Miss World once, and had several runners-up. Not bad for a nation of 1.3 million people.

When Wendy Fitzwilliam won last year’s competition in Hawaii so memorably, crooning sweet jazz at the judges, destroying her rivals with intelligent, thoughtful answers, moving serenely across the stage with a rhythm and grace which left the rest of the field floundering, West Indians everywhere jumped for joy. Their girl, this epitome of Caribbean beauty — six feet of sculptured ebony with the face and poise of an angel, armed with words of wit and meaning delivered in the duskiest lilt — blew the opposition away.

The drama of that night and the manner of her triumph catapulted Wendy Fitzwilliam from unknown law student to national heroine and role model. Her return to Trinidad was marked by huge crowds straining to see her in balcony appearances and open-top carriage rides through the country’s towns. There were endless lines of adoring, excited children waving national flags, cheering her every move — and this Carnival saw many little girls dressed as tiny Wendys for their classroom jump-ups. Politicians, celebrities, anyone who was anyone, queued to stand in her spotlight. She united the country behind her like an Ato Boldon, Brian Lara or Dwight Yorke. Shame she can’t enter again, really.

Look out for:

• Lydian opera. The Lydian Singers, one of Trinidad’s foremost choirs, are this year celebrating their 20th anniversary. In recognition of this they will be performing Puccini’s famous opera Turandot, which is set in ancient China. A total of 140 choristers, musicians and dancers will be featured under the direction of Pat Bishop at the Trinidad Country Club (May 13–16, 20–23, 27–29) and Presentation College Chaguanas (June 5 and 6). For tickets and further information contact the Signature Collection at (868) 622-9945 or Aquarius at (868) 624-1181

• The Grand Ballroom of the Trinidad Hilton Hotel will be transformed into a spectacular Mediterranean Food Festival from May 17th to 23rd when lovers of good taste will be able to sample traditional dishes from Europe, Asia and Africa.

Visiting chefs will share their culinary expertise with that of the Hilton’s talented executive chef, Debra Sardinha-Metivier. The countries featured will be France, Spain, Italy, Greece, Morocco and Egypt. The opening night will feature specialities from all these different countries. Each night will be dedicated to a particular country, starting with France on the 18th and ending with Greece on the 22nd. On the 23rd will be a closing brunch, once again featuring the six different countries.

• Pan Ramajay Steelband Competition. Small ensemble bands showcase their virtuosity by interpreting pieces in a variety of styles: jazz, rock, reggae and classical. May

Indian Arrival Day, celebrating the arrival of the first Indian indentured labourers in Trinidad in 1845. May 30

• The Big River International Artists’ Workshop is taking place at Grande Rivière in eastern Trinidad until May 3. On Wednesday May 5, 22 contemporary artists from 13 countries will be exhibiting work produced at the Workshop, including Trinidad’s Embah, Susie Dayal, Irenee Shaw, John Stollmeyer and Mario Lewis. For more info contact Caribbean Contemporary Arts (CCA) at 622-7402, fax 622-5313 or email:


World cup

World Cup cricket begins in England in May and lasts past mid-June. Getting tickets at this stage for cricket’s showcase event may be hard, but there’s always the TV. Get in the beers and plan your festival of armchair cricket around the following schedule.


• 14th: England v Sri Lanka, Lords

• 15th: India v South Africa, Hove

Zimbabwe v Kenya, Taunton

• 16th: Australia v Scotland, Worcester

West Indies v Pakistan, Bristol

• 17th: New Zealand v Bangladesh, Chelmsford

• 18th: England v Kenya, Canterbury

• 19th: Sri Lanka v South Africa, Northampton

India v Zimbabwe, Leicester

• 20th: Australia v New Zealand, Cardiff

Pakistan v Scotland, Chester-Le-Street

• 21st: West Indies v Bangladesh, Dublin

• 22nd: England v South Africa, The Oval

Zimbabwe v Sri Lanka, Worcester

• 23rd: Kenya v India, Bristol

Australia v Pakistan, Headingly

• 24th: West Indies v New Zealand, Southampton

Scotland v Bangladesh, Edinburgh

• 25th: England v Zimbabwe, Trent Bridge

• 26th: Sri Lanka v India, Taunton

South Africa v Kenya, Amsterdam

• 27th: West Indies v Scotland, Leicester

Australia v Bangladesh, Chester-Le-Street

• 28th: New Zealand v Pakistan, Derby

• 29th: England v India, Edgbaston

Zimbabwe v South Africa, Chelmsford

• 30th: Sri Lanka v Kenya, Southampton

West Indies v Australia, Old Trafford

• 31st: Scotland v New Zealand, Edinburgh

Pakistan v Bangladesh, Northampton


• Super Six Games (top three from group A and B)

• June 16th: semi-final 1, Old Trafford

• June 17th: semi-final 2, Edgbaston

Sunday June 20: World Cup Final, Lords


Lotto largesse

There’s a Caribbean invention on the World Wide Web that’s currently making money for inveterate lottery players around the globe. Trinidadian Gordon Gonsalves’s Lotto Tracker II is a computer programme that tracks most of the world’s lottery results, and through a mixture of statistical analysis, algorithms, probability logic and other number-crunching wizardry comes up with proposals for winning combinations, suggestions, quick picks and bar graphs. Gonsalves says it works best with lotteries that require 5-10 numbers, and that the next version will support bonus ball numbers.

But does it work? Well, yes it does. The first person ever to buy the programme, who lived in Finland, won a small amount straight away; another player reported that Lotto Tracker II picked all six numbers in the Hoosier Lottery in the USA — but, sadly, a few weeks before he had bought the programme. Another reported winning US$200 immediately he played.

Gonsalves, a computer/database specialist, originally developed the programme to track the Trinidad and Tobago Lotto, but has since developed Lotto Tracker II to encompass others including the Jamaica Lotto, the UK National Lottery, most of the US Lottos, the New Zealand Lotto, Finnish and French lottos and many more. Nobody has won the Big One yet, but as Gonsalves points out, the more people play it the more likely it is that someone will eventually strike it very lucky indeed. You can find Lotto Tracker II at

Funding provided by the 11th EDF Regional Private Sector Development Programme Direct Support Grants Programme.
The views expressed on this website are those of the the authors and do not reflect those of the Direct Support Grants Programme.