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Tuesday on The Rocks - Merging of cultures

Published:Thursday | April 18, 2019 | 12:00 AMKimberley Small/Staff Reporter
Kes the Band
Kes says TOTR is really the merging of cultures.

Next Tuesday, Kes The Band will make a cross-national cultural stand in Kingston, taking over the Ranny Williams Entertainment Centre to host their first instalment of the twin-nation’s native ‘Tuesday on the Rocks (TOTR’s) concert. While continuing to ‘kick up dust’ with the sensational reception of the band’s latest hit, Savannah Grass, the soca music outfit promises a one-of-a-kind experience.

“It’s not gonna be just a soca show. It’s a concert, fête – you can call it whatever. It’s more than a concert, more than a fête. It’s really merging cultures between Trinidad and Jamaica. We’ll definitely be representing soca, but we’ll be representing dancehall as well,” lead singer Kees Dieffenthaller told The Gleaner.

Regardless of what anyone wants to call it, TOTR is the only full-blown concert experience this season – with Kes The Band coming out in full force, instruments in tow. “It’s the only band show in Jamaica Carnival with the full band. So that’s an experience in itself. You listen that soca music – you need to experience it with a band, just as you experience dancehall and reggae with a band,” Kees added.

In addition to Kes The Band, TOTR will also have appearances from dancehall stars Konshens and Shenseea. “We have Mr Killa representing out of Jamaica, we have Shal Marshall from Trinidad. Look out for the merging of cultures. You love reggae, dancecall, carnival, carnival soca? Come. It’s all in one. And you know, look out for some surprises as well.”

Instant Classic

Despite placing second to Machel Montano, Bunji Garlin and Skinny Fabulous’ high-energy collaboration in the Road March Title Song competition, the single Savannah Grass has settled in the hearts of many, and tickled the souls of soca music lovers the world over. Fans laud the composition as timeless; one that tugs at the nostalgic strings, and will carry on through the years as one of the greatest soca songs ever. “You never expect it to be a contender for the road march, but I knew it was a powerful song. It felt powerful before it was completed – so I knew it would have touched the people in a different way. It came from a real place, from us,” says Kees.

Kees revealed that the band actually shelved Savannah Grass for a few months. Though he added it to his crop of releases this year, along with Close To Me, featuring Shenseea, Love It and Nah Let Go, he didn’t exactly prepare for a song that straddles the sub-genre line between groovy and power soca to ‘take over the road’. “We shelved it for a few months, and we dust it off ... then prepared it for the carnival season,” he said.

Since the music video was released in January, it has amassed over four million views on YouTube. A quick browse through the comments will reveal listeners admitting to being moved to tears by the song. “Some people do a life of music and don’t create any classics. You feel blessed to create even one classic in your life, and if Savannah Grass is that classic, I am blessed,” he said.

Savannah Grass

Though you can pick up the meaning from context clues, Kees explained that the song refers to a physical space that Trinidadians will have some connection to – be it carnival or something else.

For Kes The Band, Savannah Grass is a reminder for Trinidadians and soca lovers all over the world about the cultural aspect of carnival, and the importance of it. Savannah Grass, the place, is described as a cultural centre in Port of Spain – a 260 acre green-space where, Kees says a lot of culture has passed through.

“What’s beautiful about the song is that a lot of people don’t know the exact significance of the Savannah Grass. For those who don’t know it, we celebrate a lot of culture there. A lot of culture has passed through there – and that’s identity for any Caribbean nation. I think people sing the song from a place – like they know; like they’ve been to Trinidad. That says a lot. It says that the truth is the truth – and sometimes, you don’t have to know all the details. If you feel it, it’s true. It’s about having soul in Carnival, not just the commerce and the fete. It’s about knowing it is a revolution. Carnival is a revolution,” says Kees.

Co-written by Kees and Jelani ‘Pops’ Shaw, with vocal production by Neel Dwala, and mixing and mastering handled by Johann Seaton of UR, Savannah Grass is dedicated to Kees’ family’s late patriarch, Bunny Dieffenthaller.