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Cartwright delivers at Blues on the Green

Published:Monday | March 1, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Marcia Rowe, Gleaner Writer

The setting was ideal ? lush green lawn and towering trees against the backdrop of a full moon. And on the wings of cool breeze rode the aroma of some of Jamaica's popular dishes, light chatter from the audience and the sounds of blues being played by the band. It was a splendour marred only momentarily by technical glitches.

The occasion was the 18th staging of the US Embassy's Blues on the Green, A Celebration of African-American Month, held last Friday at the Hope Botanic Gardens. The large turnout of diplomats and Jamaicans were fêted with fine food and drinks, before taken on a ride of bluesy ecstasy.

Soulful and romantic

After some formalities, such as the playing of the national anthems of both Jamaica and the US; a welcome by the new US Chargé d' Affaires, Isiah Parnell, who was introduced by outgoing public affairs officer, Patricia Attkisson, the entertainment component of Blues on the Green began.

Leading the charge of performers was the featured guest artiste, American blues singer Joan Cartwright, aka Diva JC. Launching into
Let The Good Times Roll
, Diva JC made her intentions known. She was soulful and romantic in
I Just Want To Make Love To You
, spiritual in
I Got My Mojo Work
and risqué in her popular song
I Do Not Want Nobody's Husband
, and somewhere between told the audience "blues is about men and women making love or not making love".

On her mission to "rename and refame jazz music", her decree was evident.

"She is the best; she is naughty and nice," said patron Noreen Charlton, a Blues on the Green regular.

The Jamaican artistes were not to be outdone. Vocalists Maria Myrie and lesser known, but very talented, Gawaine Campbell and Jermaine Blake, were captivating. Performing as a duet, with backing by the Mojahrock band, Campbell and Blake were fantastic. They had the crowd responding to Sam Cook's
I Was Born By The River
and rocking to Blake's reggae original
Love Took Words From My Mouth
. And, Myrie was sensational in her deliveries of
At Last
I Love My Baby

Very entertaining

The main backing band for the evening comprised Maurice Gordon (guitar and vocals), Dwayne Livingston (bass), Jerome Tulloch (keyboard) and Tony 'Ruption' Williams (drum). The erudite MC, Fae Ellington, was, as usual, very entertaining. In a light moment of "tekking bad tings mek joke", she reacted to the technical glitches at the start of the show by sprinkling spirits on the stage (a Jamaican custom performed at wakes), and the audience in the know cracked up with laughter.

The US Embassy's Blues on the Green was conceptualised by Angella Harvey, cultural office specialist in the department of public affairs at the US Embassy.

"The first Jamaican concert took place outside the Mutual Life Building. There were 200 guests by invitation only. In the show's third year at Hope Gardens, there were approximately 4,000 in attendance, 1,500 were given invitation," an elated Harvey told
The Gleaner

Subsequent shows were held at Emancipation Park and Devon House.

Harvey acknowledged that the success of the show was also due to the support from different groups, including members of the Jamaica American Friendship Association, who volunteered their services.