Jazz Fiesta at Rafters' Rest, rain or shine
Jazz Fiesta on The Banks of The Rio Grande, the Portland segment of the 26th Jamaica Ocho Rios International Jazz Festival takes place on Sunday, May 29. It will be held at Rafters' Rest, St Margaret's Bay. With the tagline, Rain or Shine, The Venue is Just Fine, the possibility of rain is not a deterrent to the evening's activities. There is ample parking, a covered, pavilion overlooking the river and food and drink will be on sale. The ambiance at The Banks of the Rio Grande at Rafters' Rest in St Margaret's Bay, Portland, includes the river, sea and lush greenery.
It is this ambiance that concert organiser, Marcia Lawrence, said contributed to the event being staged. "It think it is ideal for a jazz session. It is relaxing. You can sit back and around you, inclusive of the music," Lawrence said.
The Jamaica Ocho Rios International Jazz Festival has had a Portland leg previously. Lawrence suggested another event to Dr Myrna Hague-Bradshaw, the festival's organiser, at the celebration for the late Winston 'Merritone' Blake's life, held at Hope Gardens. "She was very receptive," Lawrence said.
The evening has been dubbed Jazz Fiesta because of the diversity of music that will be presented, which includes a local Italian band, The Armagaideeon, and Fulilas Juz, a Mexican band which will come into the island the day before journeying to Portland. The organisers of Jazz Fiesta chose the Spanish/Latino influence for their event as there is a growing group of persons within the parish who meet regularly for salsa and ballroom classes.
The opening act for the evening is Riddim Bank, a Portland based band. The band evolved out of jam sessions held on Fridays at the back of CC Bakery, home of The Holey Bulla, and is managed by Donnie Chin who played for years with a band in Florida. After being part of a band event held at Rafters' Rest it was decided that there would be closer collaboration between Riddim Bank and the venue.
The headliner for the evening will be Harold Davis, well known in the Jamaican jazz arena for his outstanding performances. Davis recently launched his latest album, Something Special The Piano Ska in London and is still basking in the rave reviews for his performance during the recent Simply Myrna concert on the lawns of Devon House, St Andrew. Lawrence said Davis was "very happy to come over."
Already there is a keen interest in the evenings' activities from groups outside of the parish as well. Jazz Fiesta starts at 4:30 p, m, and is expected to be finished with enough time for those attending from outside of Portland to enjoy the journey back home.
The concert is sponsored by Pure National Ice and Lifespan Water and the organisers are expecting to finalise additional sponsorship arrangements shortly. Part proceeds from the event will be given to some of the raftsmen in the area who suffered losses during the recent rains in the parish.
Presold tickets are now available at $1,500 each and can be had at various locations islandwide.