Sun | Sep 24, 2017

Merritone fills Melia Braco

Published:Sunday | October 2, 2016 | 10:00 AMMel Cooke
Merritone selectors Richie Clarke (left), Monte Blake (second left), Mikey Thompson (second right) and Craig Ross prepare to cut the celebratory cake at Waterfalls, Liguanea, St Andrew, on Thursday evening during the launch of the 26th Annual Merritone Reunion and Homecoming.
Deon Hardy (left) and Chris McDonald.
Two of the dancers take delight in their moves during the launch of the 26th Annual Merritone Reunion and Family Homecoming.
Monte Blake of Merritone speaking on Thursday evening at the launch of the 26th Annual Merritone Reunion and Family Homecoming.
Mike Henry, minister of transport and mining, speaks at Thursday evening’s launch of the 26th Annual Merritone Reunion and Family Homecoming.
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At Thursday night's launch of the first Merritone Reunion and Family Homecoming since Winston Blake's death in February this year, naturally there were numerous references to him.

However, it was the famed Merritone man's brother, Monte Blake, who delivered Winston's words to the large gathering at Waterfalls in Liguanea, St Andrew. Winston was wont to say: "I am for all seasons and, when I am no longer, I will always be."

And so it seems so will the sound system founded by Val Blake and carried on by his sons Winston, Monte, Trevor and Tyrone. For Monte was able to announce that the all-inclusive weekend at the Melia Braco Resort in Trelawny, starting Friday, October 14, has been sold out. Blake promised music night and day, live and recorded, noting that there will be moonlight, the rest up to the merry people.

The 26th Annual Merritone Reunion and Family Homecoming begins on Sunday, October 9, with the Merritone Gives Thanks service at Webster Memorial United Church, 53 Half-Way Tree Road, starting at 9:45 a.m. The next day, A Salute to Marjorie Whylie, will be held at 5 Keesing Avenue, beginning at 8 p.m.

Monte noted that Jacob's Place in Kings Plaza, Constant Spring Road, where the Merritone Musical Showcase will be held on Tuesday, October 11, was one of Winston's favourite going-out spots.

Monte also said that The Alibi at 31 Upper Waterloo Road, where Merritone Jazz and Cocktails will be staged on Wednesday, October 12, starting at 8 p.m., was the last venue Winston visited "before he left us".

The regular Turntable Thursday, which the launch preceded, is a part of the homecoming schedule set for October 13. There was applause when Monte said it had been taking place at Waterfalls for 14 years and, before that, was at the Turntable Club on Red Hills Road for 28 years, making it 42 consistent years of the event.

After the all-inclusive weekend, Merritone's 26th reunion ends at The Deck, Trafalgar Road, New Kingston, on Monday, October 17, National Heroes Day, with Las Lick - Salute to our Heroes and Legends. "It is always a fantastic occasion at The Deck," Blake said.

MUSICAL HERITAGE

With Michael Hall hosting, endorsements of Merritone's week of activities by major sponsors J Wray & Nephew and the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) were on the programme. So was keynote speaker Olivia Grange, minister of culture, gender, entertainment and sports, but Minister of Transport and Mining Mike Henry read her address.

In it, Grange described Winston Blake as a man who not only created memories but also preserved them. She described the homecoming as "a glorious chance to connect the young people with their musical heritage".

For his part, Henry said he has previously enjoyed what Merritone has delivered and he intends to be there for more, before closing with a hail of "Jah Rastafari".

There was music and movement at the launch, with Deon Hardy performing Dreamland to music by Chris McDonald, who also played for Charmaine Limonius, who sang Perfidia. The movement came from the dancers Sherene and Company, three young men and two women who added drama to their steps by depicting infidelity, confrontation and resolution.

In giving thanks all around, Norma Brown-Bell noted Merritone's busy schedule at home and abroad, where the bookings keep coming in and people are being satisfied. Four of the men who spin on Merritone - Craig Ross, Richie Clarke, Mikey Thompson and Monte Blake, cut the celebratory cake, then it was on to food and dancing in the Merritone Thursday night style.