Surprises, swagger, stethoscopes at cancer charity concert
Mel Cooke, Gleaner Writer
In its third year, the annual 'Doctors and Friends on stage for Cancer' pulled in its largest audience yet to the East Lawns of Jamaica House on Sunday. That was not the only sign of growth in the benefit event for the Jamaica Cancer Society, as there were also more doctors foregoing diagnoses and dishing out entertainment in the pre-intermission segment of the concert.
However, with the number of professional musicians and performers also increased, the post-intermission segment was too long for many. So by the time Tessanne Chin (following sister Tami), closed off five minutes short of midnight, a mere fraction of the audience was left to applaud the last strains of Hideaway.
The switch from the band which played for guitarist Maurice Gordon and Robbie Lyn - excellent musicians, but instrumentalists proved not to give the concert an emphatic restart after the break - and then Fab Five for George Nooks and Lovindeer to tracks for Alaine, also changed the impact of the music. Not that the audience was let down by Alaine as her performance was by far one of the night's standouts, especially when she played the keyboards and reinterpreted her own No Ordinary Love.
On the other side of the break, Dr Michael Abrahams, with his lyrical review of 2010, transformational Golding speech, Mannat Enquiry and Al Miller comments took the house down.
In the early going, the doctors, a couple with stethoscopes, got their song, dance and swagger on. In the rare instance where effort exceeded entertainment value, the audience was respectful. Dr Jacinth Wright, performing as Dr J, sang and deejayed for healthy living, both in environment and body, the audience cheering as Dr J demanded "puddung gully creeper/an' tun gully sweeper".
The Stella Maris Dance Ensemble (which Dervan Malcolm told co-host Dorraine Samuels he was once a part of) was the only 'friend' in the first segment. With Fab Five providing the music, Dr Murphy Osbourne had two well-deserved turns on stage, going for a fusion of You Raise Me Up and If We Hold on Together in the first, and a good old rollicking gospel melody on the second.
Dr Kathy Pate-Robinson went uptempo, while Dr Mike Mills went for the bassline - after dramatically doffing his fake locks-laden tam to show his low-cut hair - holding down the groove for Gregory Isaacs' Night Nurse and Toto's Africa. Dr Lorenzo Gordon went high-voiced and dramatic for his humorous lecture on cancer-prevention steps, from breast self-examination to the prostate cancer examination.
The Doctors Christmas couple of Anna Kay on vocals and Maxim on keyboard was excellent and when Dr Jennifer Mamby-Alexander included Beenie Man's Nuff Gal and Busy Signal's Step Out in the songs she tap danced to it sent a ripple through the audience.
Dr Winston De La Haye, with Dr Kathy Brown on keyboard, drummed out the classic Rivers of Babylon, then he was part of the band which supported Brown as she took the concert into the merry world of the Sly Mongoose, her left hand sweeping across the keys and indicating the band as she handed over to the other musicians totally.
Doctors Audley Betton and Knox Hagley went retro with the rockers of Delroy Wilson and sentimentality of Louis Armstrong respectively, Dr Emerson Henry dropping it 'Cool Ruler' style and Doctors Bill Aiken and Maynard McIntosh putting on their swagger for the fashion show, which also involved reigning Miss Jamaica World Chantal Raymond. Professor Celia Christie was superb on clarinet, ending her piece on a sustained high.
Year in review
Dr Michael Abrahams was the only medical professional whose introduction moved the audience to cheers and, by the time he was done, the anticipation had been well justified. He reviewed 2010, in which "Vybz Kartel waan tun Caucasian", enquired about the viewership for the soap opera on TV that is the Mannat Enquiry and commented on certain persons who "a flex 'a way'/one a dem all a gwaan like dem no know Shower Posse".
When the audience's cheers interrupted the song Abrahams said, "It's not that I don't want to continue the rest of the song, but the rest of the lyrics I just can't recall."
Reviewing the incidents that Rev Al Miller has been involved in, Abrahams concluded "I think the most natural move for Al Miller is just bus a dancehall tune" as he already has the required street creds. And one of his couplets could just be "dem go take whe me gun/when me try go pick some plum".
Abrahams ended with a hilarious Golding transformational speech in which the National Bird becomes the John Crow "as this bird most accurately reflects the behaviour of our politicians".