Category Archives: Music

Mercury Fest 2018

Written By Tevyn Gill | Photos courtesy of the St. Lucia Tourism Authority

Only 3 weeks after an action packed Carnival season, the beautiful, tourism driven island of Saint Lucia followed up keenly with their highly anticipated beach and boat festival, Mercury Fest Saint Lucia. Formerly the hosts of the popular Mercury Beach — initially of Martinican origins — that gained much of its growth on the same Lucian shores of Pigeon Island, saw an end to the event’s four-year run in Saint Lucia. Being one of the most anticipated events of the summer to be held on island, however, the proactive action of Epic Events and the Saint Lucia Tourism Authority seized the opportunity to fill the gap with their own version of the same concept to satisfy the ever growing demand.
The two day event comprised of three events between August 10th & 11th. Its inaugural installment of the now 100% locally produced festival attracted an influx of visitors from all around the region, with over 4000 guests from the French speaking territories where the concept was populated. It is also estimated to have hosted over 150 vessels, which included speedboats, catamarans and yachts from Martinique and Guadaloupe, Barbados, Trinidad, St. Marteen, Puerto Rico, Africa, France and Canada.

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Photos courtesy of the St. Lucia Tourism Authority

Clearly a successful replacement, Mercury Fest generally followed a similar format to its predecessor, with a concert-styled event on Friday night and the typical massive beach party during the day on Saturday at the same venue. Tickets to the events were sold independently, costing EC$100/EU$33 for the Friday alone and EC$150/EU$50 for Saturday only, or as a two-day pass for one price of EC$230/EU$75. As per last year, the Gros Islet Street Party was also promoted as the pre party to the concert, and was a free addition to help usher in the fantastic vibe of the wild weekend.

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Often called the “Spring Break of the Caribbean,” the festivities started on August 10 from 8pm with the traditional Friday night street party in Gros Islet, where the electric atmosphere of the weekend was off to a roaring start. Foreigners and locals could be seen in the packed streets of the vibrant little village enjoying the unique culinary delights of the island or drinking and dancing the night away to the local entertainment. Visitors were offered a smooth introduction to the culture of partying like a local, while also promoting the integration of the variety of cultures present on the island. After their crash course at Gros Islet, ticket holders and spontaneous pumpers alike made their way over to Pigeon Island beach for the first official offering of Mercury Fest 2018.

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For the first time, the venue was outlined in such a way that even the beach’s local vendor huts were incorporated into the event, providing a wide variety of food options and even smaller bar alternatives (a local revenue stream that was missing in previous years). Hosted on both days by the domestic beauty, Mareen Alexander, and energetically translated by the bubbly Esmerasta from Martinique, the show drew an impressive crowd for Friday’s headliner, Kalash. The French Dancehall sensation, known for his hits ‘Free Me’, ‘Taken’ and ‘Mwaka Moon’ was preceded by local artistes such as Ricky T before gracing the stage to the delight of the ecstatic and heavily French populated crowd. However, both French and English speakers alike united in singing the Martinican star’s lyrics word for word as he continued to entice the crowd more and more with his ‘Mavado-esque’ style. Kalash impressively closed the first show, leaving people in great anticipation for the grand festivities of the following day.

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Wasting no time, patrons and vessels began arriving from 9am on Saturday. The classic theme of boats, bikinis, foam and fun was in full effect, with rows of boats lining the entire span of beach, and people swimming and basking in the calm, clear waters. Advertised as the “ultimate beach party,” the festival provided an abundance of the most beautiful women and coolest personalities of the Caribbean. The picturesque ambience provided by the foamy fun and magnificent weather were amplified by the entrancing music by some of the top DJs from Martinique and Saint Lucia, including the likes of DJ Gil, Levi Chin, Hollywood HP and DJ Litchie on the impressive cast. The growing crowd was also treated to performances by the very best Saint Lucian artistes including Shemmy J, Sedale, Mata & Migos, Keisha, Teddyson John and Cooyah leading up to the headline act, Jamaica’s dancehall superstar, Popcaan.

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The popular Jamaican artiste had the crowd chanting his lyrics to every song, and completely captivated by his entertaining antics. He previewed stand out songs from his new album, Forever, such as ‘Silence’, ‘Foreign Love’ and ‘Firm and Strong’. He gave a performance that indubitably left both patrons and promoters satisfied with the Mercury Fest product for 2018, and eagerly looking onward to the future of the festival.
For its first edition, Mercury Fest definitely kept all its promises, as well as keeping the major boat and beach event alive in the island of Saint Lucia. Each year the nautical event succeeds to provide a memorable experience to attendees as the biggest and best beach party. Tourism Minister, Mr. Dominic Fedee said he sees it as a tremendous success, especially in light of the enormous economic impact it has on the island. His hopes are that it continues to gain traction and pull even bigger and more diverse crowds as the event is way more than just a party. It also features local gourmet cuisine, premium drinks, and promotes international integration, home-grown talent and exceptional entertainment from around the region. It is an opportunity to promote Saint Lucian culture and arts while encouraging the engagement of the wider Caribbean region in this all-encompassing experience.

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The vision is that the two-day festival will gain similar regional and international recognition as other notable Caribbean festivals, such as Dream Weekend in Jamaica. This will further boost tourism in Saint Lucia, and by extension, the economy while playing a role deepening Caribbean integration. The saying “out with the old, and in with the new” may be quite applicable for the little island with big dreams, it seems. Regardless, one thing is certain: in the island of Saint Lucia, Mercury Fest is by far the best and biggest beach party of the summer. See you there in 2019!

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Wasting no time, Day 2 patrons and the line water vessels began arriving from 9am. The classic theme of boats, bikinis, foam and fun was in full effect, with rows of boats lining the entire span of beach, and people swimming and basking in the calm, clear waters. Advertised as the “ultimate beach party,” the festival provided an abundance of the most beautiful women and coolest of the Caribbean. The picturesque ambience provided by the foamy fun, the magnificent weather were amplified by entrancing music by some of the top DJs from Martinique and St. Lucia, including the likes of DJ Gil, Levi Chin, Hollywood HP and DJ Litchie on the impressive cast. Performances by the very best Saint Lucian artistes including Shemmy J, Sedale, Mata & Migos, Keisha, Teddyson John and Cooyah— leading up to the headline act, Jamaica’s dancehall superstar Popcaan.

The Jamaican superstar had the crowd chanting his lyrics of every song, and completely captivated by his entertaining antics. He previewed stand out songs from his new album, Forever, such as Silence, Foreign Love and Firm and Strong. He gave a performance that indubitably left both patrons and promoters satisfied with the Mercury Fest product for 2018, and eagerly looking onward to the future of the festival.

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For its first edition, Mercury Fest definitely kept all its promises, as well as keeping the major boat and beach event alive in the island of St. Lucia. Each year the nautical event succeeds to provide a memorable experience to attendees as the biggest and best beach party. Tourism Minister, Mr. Dominic Fedee said he sees it as a tremendous success, especially in light of the enormous economic impact it has on the island. He said hopes it continues to gain traction and pull even bigger and more diverse crowds.
The event is more than a party. It displays local gourmet cuisine, premium drinks, and promotes international integration, home-grown talent and exceptional entertainment from around the region. It is an opportunity to promote St. Lucian culture and arts while encouraging the engagement of the wider Caribbean region in this all-encompassing experience.

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The vision is that the two-day festival will gain similar regional and international recognition as other notable Caribbean festivals, such as Dream Weekend in Jamaica. This will further boost tourism in St. Lucia, and by extension, the economy while playing a role deepening Caribbean integration. The saying “out with the old, and in with the new” may be quite applicable for the little island with big dreams, because one thing is certain: in the island of St. Lucia, Mercury Fest is by far the best and biggest beach party of the summer. See you there in 2019!

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Campfire Audio ATLAS

Review by Tricia Williamson | Photos courtesy of Campfire Audio

Firstly, you hear everything!

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I played Elvin Bishop’s “Fooled around and Fell in Love” and as I listened through the Campfire Audio Atlas- that’s just what happened. You could hear every single detail down to the age of the record. The quality was simply pristine and the level of detail you get with this dynamic driver is insane.

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Once you unbox the packaging the inscription “Nicely Done” welcomes you inside. The CampFire Audio Atlas arrives encased in a beautiful black leather zipper case. The stainless steel in-ear monitors each have the earbuds individually enclosed in mini travel bags.
As I listened to Rupert Holmes’ “Escape (The Pina Colada Song)” I loved the rich and deep bass as you were immersed fully in a top quality listening experience. This 10MM Diamond Dome (ADLC) Dynamic Driver with a Beryllium Copper MMCX earphone connector and a pure silver litz wire cable. The cool scientists at Campfire Audio are to be commended for their masterpiece. With this Atlas, old and new songs you have loved will take on whole new meanings.

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With a nice deep bass, clear midrange, coupled with excellent resolution and phenomenal sound stage. There are no frills… The Campfire Audio Atlas is just sound- mastered to perfection.

The Sony 1000XM2 Review

Review By DJ Courtney | Photo courtesy of Sony

Let me start by saying this, I love these damn Sony 1000XM2 Headphones, I’m not even sure what colour it is, because depending on the lighting it may look gold or cream. Either way, with its brilliant finish, it’s just nice to look at.

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Photography by Oneil Banton

During the unboxing of the headphones I normally don’t read the features, so when I connected to the Bluetooth, I was prompted that an app was available & that it could also be upgraded. So I followed the instructions, let me tell you, this is one of the most feature-packed headphones I’ve ever used, but that wasn’t all, when I looked at the controls on the headphones I decided to take a quick glance, well guess what, I found a feature that is simply amazing.

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Photography by Sony

Say you’re listening to music & you see someone who wants to talk to you, you can simply hold your hand over the right ear cup, where the controls are located, the music goes almost into a soft mode & you are able to hear the person speaking without removing the Headphones. Boooooommm!

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So let’s get to the real deal, after charging it for couple hours, I connected my iPhone via Bluetooth, which was as easy as can be. Since then, I’ve been using it for about a week, and trust me when I say it’s been a very happy experience. The sound from these Sony 1000XM2 Headphones is awesome, crystal clear & you get very good bass in your listening experience. However, I’m still iffy as it relates to call quality when you’re answering your phone.

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A strong selling point for this Sony Headphone is its noise-cancelling feature, and let me tell you, they do an excellent job with it. To be frank, that’s the best feature about these Headphones.

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To top it off it’s also very comfortable & adjustable, which is perfect in certain situations.Even though it is being marketed as a Bluetooth headphone, it does include a cord attachment for wired connection. So being a professional DJ, I decided to test it out at a gig and the result was wonderful. Problem is, the noise cancelling feature was too damn good, I couldn’t even hear the crowd response, but because of its adjustability, I was able to use it on one ear, which was perfect.

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As it related to the battery life, I charged the Headphones once and I’ve used it for up to 5 days for about 5 hours per day & it was still going. Product info stated that while using Bluetooth it can work for 30 hours, which is ideal in any situation. It also includes a quick charge feature.

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The Headphone comes with a very neat case, which includes a Micro USB & a Wire connector. Overall I’m extremely pleased with these Headphones, the truth is they are now my go-to Headphones and will be with me all the time.

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Finally, I’ve seen where they have compared these to the Bose (which I haven’t tested yet) and I’ve read that they are rated basically the same. Well let me tell you this, I’m good over here, I’m with Sony.

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The Sennheiser Review: HD 25 Robin Schulz Limited Edition

Review By DJ Courtney

This review of the Sennheiser HD 25 Robin Schulz Edition headphones was done at the Morning Medz event which I DJ-ed at Reggae Sumfest in Montego Bay, Jamaica; so I decided that would be where I would test them live.

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Photography by Oneil Banton

Personally, I’m not a huge fan of white DJ Headphones as I find them hard to maintain. Plus given that the event was a breakfast party, initially, I had my doubts, because the morning was extremely hot. However, when I finished they were easy to clean, as for functionality, I was already familiar with the HD25 and they performed exceptionally as was expected.
Most people would probably already know that the Sennheiser HD25 is very popular worldwide, having been around from the 80s. So the focus of this review is to see what the differences with this Robin Schulz Edition are. So let’s get into the details because they are still one of the best DJ Headphones on the market.

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Photography by Oneil Banton

They are extremely comfortable for a DJ and also for general use. These are probably the lightest professional headphones on the market, the sound is totally amazing and in my opinion even better now, with just the right amount of balance to your ears, great bass and the mid & highs are super clean, basically, you’re hearing every instrument on a track cleanly.

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Product Photos courtesy of Sennheiser

The design is the same, they may seem simple, but they are extremely strong and can take a drop without getting a scratch. It has the split headband for adjustment on your head, closed-back design, flip-away ear cups if you need to listen to the crowd, and a 1/4 inch screw-on jack. The other great thing about the HD25 is that the parts are replaceable, like the ear cups etc., so I’m assuming, these will be also.

It’s hard doing a review for these headphones as almost every DJ in the world who have used one will tell you it’s in the top 5 available in the market, it’s a winner no matter what.
So I’m basically going to say these Headphones are now white with the branding of Robin Schulz, who is a great DJ, who has now teamed up with an already great headphone, & they are also Limited Edition, so who am I to complain.

The LSTN Beacon Review

By Tricia Williamson | Product Photos courtesy of LSTN

This summer LSTN released their “true wireless’’ earbuds- the LSTN Beacon. With its eye-catching beauty and sleek design, the Beacon is designed for wireless travel.
Forget the wires and connect via Bluetooth to your mobile device with ease. Once you have paired your earbud just hold down the faceplate of the other Beacon earbud to automatically connect.

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One of my favourite features about the LSTN Beacon is the fast charging case which can hold up to 3-4 charges for the earbuds (which in turn can be in use for up to 3 hours at a time). Though I would have liked a longer charging cable- the micro USB port means charging with a longer cable is not hard to find. Plus you can see the LED indicator lights through the case showing your earbuds being powered up.
I know a lot of my colleagues are not fans of wireless earbuds with complaints of discomfort or losing earbuds. However, with the LSTN Beacon, none of those challenges existed. The earbuds were a comfort and I shook my head a lot while testing and they stayed snuggly fit. The box also includes several ear tips and wings so your only challenge is discovering your perfect fit.
All in all, if you are a fan of wireless earbuds- the LSTN Beacon really shines bright and stands out from the crowd. Plus who doesn’t love being a force for good….Do consider supporting this worthy cause.
Sound & Purpose
LSTN was founded with a singular purpose: to change lives through the power of music. Proceeds from sales of all LSTN products go towards giving hearing aids to people in need worldwide through our charity partner, Starkey Hearing Foundation.
LSTN has helped more than 30,000 people worldwide, and that number is growing every day.

Review: DodoCool Headphones

By DJ Courtney

I was fortunate to be travelling when I got the Dodocool DA158 to test & review, here goes.

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Photo courtesy of Dodocool
I’m a DJ by design so my standards are high. The Dodocool DA158 is ideal as an entry-level wireless headphone for people who like to listen to music.
Firstly, the design is good and the headphones are foldable and compact- thus great for when you’re on the go. It also comes with a nice & sturdy carrying case, which might seem bulky at first, but fits perfectly for travelling needs. I primarily used these headphones while in airplanes & walking around Las Vegas, so there was no shortage of opportunity to test the noise cancelling feature and overall I’d give it an average rating.
Even though these headphones are wireless, the Dodocool DA158 has the capability of using a headphone jack which is included in the box, and that’s a big plus! The Dodocool DA158 easily pairs to any Bluetooth device and to top that, when it came to answering calls it was magical. I heard my callers clearly and vice versa, it has mics built in the headphones…. Genius!
As for the battery life, the company states that the headphones can “provide up to 14 hours of playtime with a full charge.” I’ve used it for at least 8 continuous hours without needing to plug in, and that’s a definite plus for me.
In relation to comfort, it’s acceptable, however, after a while it felt a bit uncomfortable, but truth be told if you’re wearing it for long periods- that is expected.
Overall, I would certainly recommend these headphones, especially at the price point that they come (~$80USD) and again the big plus factor, is the ability to use a headphone jack even though it’s wireless.

 

St. Lucia Jazz: Soleil Summer of Festivals

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Written by Tevyn Gill | Photos courtesy of Soleil Summer Festival

Amidst the infinite Instagram posts, beautiful bouquets and other quintessential Mother’s Day celebrations, the Soleil Summer Festival’s St. Lucia Jazz event gave life to Pigeon Island National Heritage Park on May 13th. The first of four (4) feature events falling under the Soleil Summer of Festivals 2018, Saint Lucia Jazz (May 6th – 13th) kicked off an impressive line-up that also includes Saint Lucia Carnival (June to July), Roots & Soul Reggae concert (Aug. 31st to Sept. 2nd) and culminating with Arts & Heritage Month in October.

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Showcasing a combined display of local, regional and international acts, the final day of a week of diversely styled jazz events proved to be quite the climax to a jive weekend, while simultaneously ushering in the commencement of a crazy carnival season!

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Complete with designated parking areas and a convenient shuttle service upon arrival, the transition from your car to the entrance and finally into the colourfully decorated venue was impressively streamlined. The ambient aesthetic immediately prepared you for an elegant evening of jazz, with the music blaring gently from the grand half dome stage and the subtle buzz of casual conversation combining gracefully at the ear.

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It was almost natural to drift toward the bars as these alluringly decorated platforms that could be seen from anywhere in the venue beckoned all the way from the entrance. The Chairman’s deck was a connoisseur’s dream, with their list of delicious offerings of captivating rum creations. The Heineken deck was a haven for beer lovers at heart, with unbelievable deals on beer all day long.

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Excluding the VIP area, the promotional decks also serving as bars for their respective brands and a lightly covered sitting area near the food court- the layout remained very much park picnic styled.

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The lush lawn was littered with mats, blankets and portable chairs of every kind, with people sitting, laying, and some even standing, swaying to the smooth, soothing music that filled the open air.

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Though mainly patronized by a more mature crowd, the show attracted couples, families and groups of friends of various ages that all came out to enjoy the soulful sounds of The Frantz Laurac Quartet, Ronald ‘Boo’ Hinkson & Friends and R + R = NOW to name a few.

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The initially sparse crowd grew gradually throughout the day as people filed in slowly and steadily until the venue looked mostly filled- but not quite resembling the masses of previous festivals. Still, the audience provided a nice mixture, comprised of people from all over the island and even from all over the world that flew in for the festivities.

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Spaces on the green continued to dwindle as people visibly fell deeper and deeper into a vibe and claimed their own spaces to do so. At this point, conversations also became easier and introductions became effortless as everyone mixed and mingled to the magical melody of jazz.

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If you hadn’t already made at least one new friend from Martinique, the UK, the US or even right here in St. Lucia as a result of one random interaction or the other, were you even there? Chatty socialites dominated the outskirts and bar areas while the jazz enthusiasts could be seen lounging closer to the stage, lost in the balanced blend of bass, piano and sax. When cocktails finally kicked in, a visit to the food court became vital. There was a satisfactory selection of eats available, from snacks like popcorn, nuts and chips, to a variety of fine caribbean cuisine on sale by local vendors. In the VIP section, there were also finger foods available for those fortunate enough, and those who were not inclined to sit outside for a full meal. After sampling a few of the festival foods, it was time to settle into a, now limited, space of your own to enjoy the rest of the acts.

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As night began to fall, we were treated to the delightful talents of Robert Glasper, rapper Terrace Martin, Trumpeter, composer and producer Christian Scott, Derrick Hodge – Grammy Award-winning bassist, composer, music producer, keyboardist & beatboxer Taylor McFerrin, as well as Justin Tyson, drummer extraordinaire. However, it would be the headliner, Avery Sunshine, that would finally steal the show and cap it all off with her thunderous, gospel bred pipes and heart-to-heart content. Her powerful presence and heavenly vocals blew all of Pigeon Island away with graceful ease. Her performance ended with an eruption of applause that signified the unfortunate end to St. Lucia Jazz, but a welcomed beginning to St. Lucia Carnival.

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The Soleil Summer Festival also ingeniously held an after party following the Jazz event. It essentially turned the elegant evening into a full-on Carnival Concert, featuring the likes of local artistes Mata & Migos, Ezra D Fun Machine, Shemmy J and Imran Nerdy. Regional superstars Destra Garcia and Shal Marshall also graced the Soca Stage for the after party, creating an infectiously familiar atmosphere with some of their biggest carnival hits, new and old.

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Redbull Thre3style World Champion, DJ Puffy, also made an appearance that turned the vibe all the way up with help from DJ Hollywood HP to give the show a well-rounded and star-studded feel from start to finish. Undeniably a good product overall, the St. Lucia Jazz offering of the Soleil Summer of Festivals is an event that can be enjoyed by music and event enthusiasts alike. And with a seamless transition into the next installment of the Festivals calendar of events, St. Lucia Carnival 2018, we can only expect great things for the upcoming June-July season.

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