Home Arts-Entertainment Showcase SCENE & HERD – DEC. 24, 1999

SCENE & HERD – DEC. 24, 1999


Sounds of the season: If you can't imagine celebrating Christmas Eve any way but with Imaginations Brass, head for Coral World tonight for the 16th annual Powerhouse Strivers ball. Party time is 11 p.m., and admission is $12 in advance (at Modern Music stores), "a little more" at the door. Those whose favorite big band is either Deep Unda Kova or The Starlites can find them performing at the same party tonight — "A Night of Elegant Fashion and Dance" at Palms Court Harbourview starting at 9 p.m. Tickets are $15 in advance (at Modern Musics, Island Laundries, the Music Shoppe, After Thoughts and at the hotel), $20 at the door.
Good mornin,' good mornin': One of the enduring traditions of Christmas, St. Thomas style, is the Challenge of the Carols in Emancipation Garden. It's a gathering of community choral groups — ten announced for this year, but there will probably be more — to sing sacred and secular songs of the season, including some massed music at the end. What makes it unique is that the whole thing gets going before dawn on Christmas morning — officially at 6 a.m. The practice has been to start things off with "echo caroling," as some choirs process into the park as others are converging on the site from various directions in town and the hills above.
The 1999 event is a tribute to the late Mercyla Leerdam, a mover and shaker in the program over the years. Albert Lynch has been tapped as this year's conductor of the massed choir. While an integral element of tradition is that it remain the same over time, this year's Challenge of the Carols will have a new twist. Brother and sister Olabayo and Oluwaseyi Olaniyi from Nigeria will present a program of Yoruba dancing, masquerading and storytelling, backed by local drummers. At the end, singers and audience alike are invited to join the dancers in a masquerade tramp from Emancipation Garden to Rothschild Francis "Market" Square. In the islands, of course, there was masquerading at Christmas long before the creation of formalized carnivals.
Christmas Caribbean Style: That's the title of the musical at the Reichhold Center Christmas night, and again on Dec. 26, and the name says it all. Last year, according to Reichhold director David Edgecombe, Josephine Thomas-Lewis approached him about the idea of producing such a local-traditions, local-talent show — and wouldn't take no for an answer. She took on the responsibilities of musical director, and they put together a program that drew a large and enthusiastic crowd last Dec. 23. So, naturally, they committed to another this year — and expanded it to a two-night stand.
"Christmas Caribbean Style" has a storyline involving a grandmother sharing the Caribbean customs of Christmas with her young grandchildren that links performances of music, mime, dance, rap and more. Many of the popular artists of the Reichhold's annual STARfest revues are taking part, including Landi Jackson, along with St. Thomas's own "three kings" — current and immediate past calypso monarchs Whadablee, Ras Regg and Louis Ible Jr. — plus a queen, St. Croix calypso champion Nikki Brooks. The 50-voice choir Caribbean Flayva and the five-member band Simon Sez are backing everybody else up.
Tickets are $15, $12 and $8. Call 693-1559 for reservations and charge-card purchases.
Between the holidays: Three concerts featuring off-island artists are on tap — the classical and flamenco guitar performances by Dennis Koster at Tillett Gardens on Wednesday, Dec. 29, and at the St. John School of the Arts on Thursday, Dec. 30, and, also on Wednesday, Dec. 29, the jazz concert at the Reichhold Center by the 21st Century band, formed by and featuring two St. Thomians, saxophonist Ron Blake and drummer Dion Parson (and for this performance including another native son, Reuben Rogers, on bass). You'll find separate stories about all of these under Things to do: .
Contemporary arty facts: The St. Thomas-St. John Arts Council is inviting members and friends to "see for yourself what everybody's talking about" in the art circles of St. John. It's hosting an "Arts After Dark" reception on Thursday, Dec. 30, at the St. John Community Foundation in Cruz Bay — which, of course, is where that show is hanging. That, being "The Colorful Men of Cruz Bay, St. John, 1993," the collection of 12 photo- collage portraits created by photographer-artist Constance Wallace.
Just about everyone has strong opinions in the controversy. At issue are freedom of expression on the one hand, and concern about holding up alleged drug dealers, some said to have been convicted, as objects of admiration on the other. First, let's make it clear that only a minority of Wallace's dozen subjects fall into this category by anyone's count — although none of the objectors have gone on the record in stating exactly which ones. When the exhibit was hung last week in the Sprauve Library in Cruz Bay in connection with the annual meeting of the Friends of the Library, Wallace was asked by library authorities to take down only those images of "convicted felons." Her response was that she had no knowledge of any of them having been convicted, and she left the show intact and the opening went on. Subsequently, she was asked to remove the whole show, and on Monday she did so. "I was invited; I can be disinvited," she said.
Wallace says she knew only two of her 12 subjects personally when she approached them in 1992 and 1993 to pose for a series of photo-collages she wanted to create "appreciating men's fashion and individuality." The longtime owner of The Clothing Studio, which features hand- painted fashions, she says, "I love clothes and am always looking at how people present themselves. For many years, I have appreciated the colorful, imaginative outfits I see on some local men in Cruz Bay." Those who've taken offense at some of the subjects represented argue that, especially in a library where children congregate regularly, it's inappropriate to hold those individuals up as objects of admiration. How the relocating of the show to the new offices of the St. John Community Foundation, in the Tradewinds Building, will affect their views remains to be seen.
The "Arts After Dark" reception is from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday. It's open to the public and admission is free. There will be complimentary hors d'oeuvres and a cash bar to benefit the foundation and the Arts Council, a not-for-profit, membership-based arts advocacy organization that's been around since the 1960s.
Wring out the old: A plethora of parties awaits anyone looking for things to do to welcome the new millennium (if that's how you're counting). Your choice of the public New Year's Eve offerings may be guided by how much money you have left after Christmas. The criterion for inclusion in what follows is a three-figure ticket ($99.99 doesn't make it; sorry, Molly's Molone's).
* For a multicultural celebration, the Interculture Network has a party for you: It's aboard the Captain Vic barge and will feature the Nigerian dancers and drummers taking part in the Challenge of the Carols along with Grupo Carabali, an Afro-Cuban band out of Puerto Rico. Other entertainment will include Puerto Rico's Local 12 DJ ensemble and DJ Virgo from Minneapolis, with Penny Wiggins, a V.I.-born comic from L.A., as emcee. This is a costumes- required affair and the price tag of $250 includes a buffet and an open bar. The boat leaves Red Hook at 8 p.m. and Cruz Bay at 8:30 and will swing back to Red Hook at 11 p.m. for a late-night pickup, and back again at 2 a.m. for an early drop-off. Tickets are being sold at the Modern Music and Just Cuts shops, or call 776-7774.
* The Westin Resor
t on St. John has been promising midnight fireworks in advertising for weeks, with two party options — $175 for an eight-course dinner in Cocoloba and $99 for an international buffet feast in the Beach Cafe.
* Now, on St. Thomas, the Renaissance Grand Beach and Wyndham Sugar Bay Resorts and the Agave Terrace restaurant at Point Pleasant are promoting midnight sky lights, too — the same ones, actually, which will be launched from a barge offshore by a company they've jointly hired. The Wyndham is an all-inclusive operation, and a reservations staff member confirmed that the only way the public can attend the "Fire and Ice Millennium Bash" on New Year's Eve (which will feature a "fire-breathing ice dragon," "exploding desserts" and dancing to the music of The Sun Kings and the Mas Band is by registering at the hotel. A 26-hour stay from noon Dec. 31 that includes the bash is $490 per couple. For Agave Terrace patrons, the fireworks come with a second-seating dinner from 8:30 to 10:30 p.m. with dancing to the music of Urge, priced at $145. For reservations, call 775-4142. At the Renaissance's "J'ouvert de Millennia," you can do an 8 p.m. gourmet buffet dinner plus poolside party with music by Milo's Kings and West Indian show for $225 (or you can just come at 10 p.m. for the party part for $99). For reservations, call 775-1510.
* Marriott's Frenchman's Reef Beach Resort has its traditional three-part party that starts with cocktails at 7:30 p.m., moves an hour later to the "Taste of the Reef Gala" featuring the specialty cuisines of the four resort restaurants, and winds up from 9:30 until with dancing to the music of The Starlites and Deep Unda Kova. This one's $230, gratuity included, and the dress code is "island formal." Call 776-8500 ext. 6500 for reservations.
* Zozo's Ristorante in Cruz Bay is doing two New Year's Eve seatings for a special menu dinner with coordinated wines for each of the six courses. The first, at 7 p.m., is $125; the second, at 8:30, is $150. Call 693-9200 to reserve.
* And then there's "Foxy's 2000 Barefoot Bacchanal" at the Callwood enclave on Jost Van Dyke. Most of the year, this is a boaties and tourists hang-out, home of the famed annual wooden boat races and good times at Foxy's Great Harbour bar. But Foxy is a mean marketing man, and he saw the millennium crossover for what it is: a magnificent marketing opportunity. He's put together "10 days of Millennial Madness" attractions of which you can take your pick. The most extravagant: On Wednesday, Dec. 29, for $165 plus $30 gratuity, there's the Old Havana Dinner and Cuban Fiesta featuring a gourmet meal, music by O2 and "our best Cuban cigars." (Since this is the British Virgin Islands, it's legal to sell and buy the real thing — although not to bring any back across the waters.) And New Year's Eve will being a seven-course "Millennium Feast" (including 3 a.m. breakfast) with a premium open bar and free admission (others pay $50) to the Outback, where there will be music by The Mighty Sparrow, Imaginations Brass and Nicky "Mighty Whitey" Russell. The price? $999 — but hey, that's for two. For reservations, call (284) 495-9258 or e-mail to [email protected].
Now, if you don't have a boat of your own, don't despair. Option A: For another $250 you can board the Spirit of St. Christopher big cat at American Yacht Harbor for a cruise to Jost. It leaves AYH at 3 p.m. Dec. 31 and returns at 4 a.m. or thereabouts Jan 1. Call 775-9500 for reservations. Option B: For $125 round trip, the Scarab power boats of Arriva Charters will be leaving every hour on the hour from noon to 10 p.m. on Dec. 31 for fast trips to Jost. You're on your own overnight, with the return trips starting at 1 p.m. Jan. 1 and going hourly "until." Call 714-2628 for reservations.
To be scene: Scene & Herd previews arts and entertainment events open to the public on St. Thomas and St. John. To have material considered for inclusion, submit it by Wednesday of each week for the following Friday's column by faxing to 776-4812, e-mailing to [email protected] or calling 776-4812 and leaving a message for a call-back.


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