Christmas on the Rio Grande returns at Rafter's Rest
The second Christmas on the Banks of the Rio Grande takes place on Sunday, December 18 at Rafter's Rest, St Margaret's Bay at the pavilion located at the mouth of the Rio Grande, Portland. The concert features Ernie Smith, Karen Smith and Bunny Brown, with drummer Desi Jones as musical director.
Ernie Smith, whose birth name is Glenroy Anthony Smith, is from a musical family. His father was an avid guitar player, and his mother a member of the church choir, and the siblings had to do their part in the church. After high school, Ernie formed a band called the Vandals with family members and friends.
However, his real entry into the music industry came when on the spur of the moment he went to Federal Records with a song he had written and asked persons working there if someone could produce it. They listened, liked it, and told him they had a band coming in that day, so he could produce it himself.
That original composition, I Can't Take It, was redone by Johnny Nash as Tears on My Pillow. Ernie is expected to deliver from his wide repertoire of songs, including Bend Down, Ride on Sammy, Pitta Patta, Duppy or Gunman, and, of course, Life Is Just for Living.
Karen Smith spent her first couple of years after college working for one of the popular commercial banks before embarking on her musical career. She has performed - and still does - at many of the major hotels all over the island, and is very well known for the many advertising jingles she did between 1984 and 1992. Smith is expected to do songs from her album, Reflections of Love, produced by Sly & Robbie.
Joel 'Bunny' Brown has been involved in the music business since 1972. He formed the group called The Chosen Few with Errol Brown, Franklyn Spence and Richard McDonald. He was the lead vocalist on the Derrick Harriott produced album titled Hit after Hit, with tracks such as Ebony Eyes, You're A Big Girl Now, Queen Majesty and Everybody Plays the Fool. Brown has recorded many other songs on his own label, Joel's Ark, and does a lot of work with Sly & Robbie.
The musical director for Christmas on The Banks of The Rio Grande is Desmond Jones, who started his journey in the music industry from seven years old when he played the conga drums and recorder at the Institute of Jamaica. He joined the Salvation Army Brass Band at twelve years old as a trombone player, but was soon discovered and adopted by the late Sonny Bradshaw and became a member of his Big Band.
Desi was one of the founding members of the group Chalice and also the leader and founder of the group Skool. He has travelled extensively with many artistes such as Monty Alexander, Ernie Ranglin, Jimmy Cliff, Mutabaruka and Marcia Griffiths. His book, The Art of Reggae Drumming, released in 1983, is the world's first instructional book on reggae drumming. Desi has put together a cadre of musicians par excellence for this show which will include himself on the drums, Robert Browne on guitar, Dale Haslam on bass and Christopher McDonald on keyboards.
The event is sponsored by the Tourism Enhancement Fund, Coronation Bakery, Braham's Texaco, Sea Cliff Resort, Hotel Tim Bamboo, Rio Vista Resort, St George's Funeral Home, Kool 97 FM and KLAS FM/ ESPN Sports Radio. A shuttle service will be available with prior booking from Jo Jo's Grill & More in Kingston. A mini-craft village with artwork from both 'Phineline' and Marguerite Gauron, along with craft items done by Mandi Taylor of All That Jazz, is a part of the experience.
This year, the organisors have collaborated with Trend Media, a one stop digital advertising solution company, in their drive to collect tinned and non-perishable food items for the victims of the recent flood rains in Portland. Patrons are invited to take along something to make a difference.
Patrons are being asked to be seated by 5 p.m. The gates will be open from 3 p.m.