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Enjoyable Stroll into the 'Gungo Walk'
Last year, the Gungo Walk Festival joined Jamaica’s entertainment calendar. Though it reportedly enjoyed a smaller audience than the first installment, the sophomore staging proffered up great energy and diversity as it continues to carve out its niche for alternative music and more.
Gungo Walk Fest 2013, took place at the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts on Saturday, 24 August and offered up a mix of poetry, theatre, yoga music, music and more music. The event stretched from the day into the night and spanned three stages on the grounds as well as studios in the School of Dance.
Most of the musical performances were not those you would find on the major festival stages, but was an interesting mix of emerging and established artists on the alternative music scene. The daytime performances included dub poet Racquel Jones, Nina Karle and Stephanie Maxwell who showed commendable versatility as a crooner and a DJ as she moved from Neo-Soul to old school dancehall.
The young band Persons of Interest delivered a set worthy of their name, providing a good blend of reggae with a ting of rock. Their opening number ‘Dis Dem’ is likely to become an anthem of rebellious youthfulness.
As the sun set, along with a swarm of arrogant and belligerent mosquitoes, came the rock and reggae infused bands alternating between the Stone Brigde and Poinciana stages. This suite of performers included Sky Grass, Downstairs, Earth Cry, and Robot Taxi who delivered an impressive set.
The night ended with Armchair Rebelution, the signature event of the festival and brainchild of Gungo Walk’s co-founder, Michael Sean Harris who along with Devices was the main performer of the segment. Harris, armed with several guest performers, delivered his normally eclectic set blending folk and contemporary music.
The Armchair Rebelution opened with Enya’s enigmatic ‘Return to Innocence’ followed by ‘In Your Presence’ which blends in Jamaican folk music for an intriguing mix.
It was then time for the first guest of the night Prince Levy and though his threads seemed to have been pulled from the pauper’s pile, his vocals were princely. Levy performed two solo pieces as well as ‘Take It Slow’ as a duet with Harris.
Indeed, Harris performed a duet with each of his guests. With Sherieta he delivered ‘Stay’ while the reggae ballad ‘Family Man’ was served up with C-Sharp front man, Chevaughn. ‘Family Man’ had been penned by Harris for the reggae band.
However, by far the night’s best duet came with the final performer Cherine as the two served up ‘Beneath Your Beautiful’. Cherine teased and charmed the audience as much with her strong vocals and engaging lyrics as the peek-a-boo dress she wore.
Between the appearance of each guest, Harris delivered a combination of originals and covers ranging from Fun’s ‘Some Nights’ to an ironically earnest rendition of the Stylistics’ ‘Betcha By Golly Wow’ as well as his signature pieces ‘Manuka’ and ‘Take It or Leave It’ written by a colleague. He closed the night with ‘Table Top’.
At the end of the night, the second sojourn into the gungo walk proved an engaging experience offering up different genres and styles.