Sun | Mar 26, 2023

Dragonaires retain their sound

Band planning new album, performing overseas

Published:Thursday | June 25, 2015 | 12:00 AMShereita Grizzle
Byron Lee
Jumo of the Byron Lee & Dragonaires band could not resist teasing the ladies throughtout his performance.
Soca giants of Byron Lee and the Dragonaires band, (from left) Ashley, Oscar B, Cindy and Jumo, entertaining the audience at the Supreme Ventures Digicel Jamaica Carnival, 2007, at The Jungle in Negril, Westmoreland.

Byron Lee and the Dragonaires played a huge role in taking Caribbean music to the world and was one of the most influential and important soca/calypso bands of its time. As a unit, the Dragonaires won the hearts of music lovers across the globe, but since the death in 2008 of the band's leading man, Byron Lee, fans have been enquiring about the band's work.

Band director and keyboard player Neville Hinds, who has been part of the Dragonaires for well over four decades, has sought to set the record straight for those who may wonder if the band has given up music altogether.

Hinds told The Sunday Gleaner that the band is still doing music and is working as hard today as when Byron Lee was alive. "We are still around," he said. "The Dragonaires are alive and well and we're in the studio now working on songs to be released really soon."

While reiterating that the band is still in operation, Hinds pointed to reasons why persons may have concluded otherwise. "We haven't been doing much in terms of appearances in Jamaica. Most of our performances have been overseas. That, coupled with a name change for the band, have been reasons for the misunderstandings," Hinds explained.

The band became known as Byron Lee's Dragonaires after Lee's death in 2008. Now, the band goes by the moniker The Dragonaires, stating that they can no longer use Byron Lee's name.

Hinds revealed that because of the name changes, the band took a few hits as far as promotions and bookings went, and that also contributed to them seemingly 'disappearing' from the music scene. "After we obtained the right to use the name The Dragonaires, the band had to re-group," he said. "After that was sorted, promoters had to be advised and we could go about the business of music again."


upcoming album


While admitting that Byron Lee's death left a void in the band, Hinds wanted to assure fans that neither the band nor the music has died, and they should look out for an album soon. "We are in the process of compiling a carnival album," he said. "We have not recorded one since his (Byron Lee's) death, but that's not because we aren't working. We just had to sort out issues with the name and go about rebranding," he said.

Hinds also pointed out that "as much as we use the name The Dragonaires, Lee still plays an integral role in the band and the sound of the band is still the same. We have not lost our style or our sound. You'll get the same performance you'd get if he were still alive."