In a historic concert presented by Shorblu Events and Big & Strong Promotions, for the first time ever on March 9th, live soca music was blaring through the speakers at the state of art music hall, Best Buy Theater in Times Square, NYC.
The phenomenal Caribbean group, Kes the band, hailing from Trinidad and Tobago headlined the major concert, aptly titled, KES ALL IN.
Not only did they just headline; in a move rarely seen, the band kicked off the performances, opting to welcome their fans instead of the crescendo effect of opening acts.
With selections from their Groovy-Soca-Island-Pop-Caribbean music repertoire, the band consisting of brothers Riad, Jon, Hans and Kees Dieffenthaller, Mario Callender, Robert Persaud and their dynamic QME dancers collided in the color and lights of Times Square to the sweet sound of soca music.
Dressed in patriotic black, red and white, lead singer Kees Dieffenthaller commandeered his adoring fans as he swooned them with sweet lyrics and his superstar appeal. With screams at the highest decibels and soca fanatics in their blissful state the action began on a high.
As a true gentleman, he welcomed his guests with an electrifying introduction belting out hits such as “Where Yuh From” and “Come Play a Mas” as he passed the mic to his fellow soca comrades.
It was only fitting to bless an event of that caliber with a performance by a legend. Calypso and soca icon,David Michael Rudder, one of the Kings of the Soul Calypso musical art-form, proved with his rousing rendition of “Calypso Music” why he holds the title. In a class all by himself, Rudder was able to invoke the deep spiritual love for soca from fans old and new.
“I love Kes, but I came all the way from Georgia just to see David Rudder, dat man is a legend!” said a fan.
Rudder captivated the crowd with deliveries of perennial favorites “Hammer” and “High Mas” just to name a few.
“I want to thank Shorblu Events and Big & Strong Promotions for making this happen. It takes a lot of courage and time and I am thankful for the opportunity to share in another chapter of our history,” Rudder stated backstage after his performance.
When asked how he felt about the present state of soca music, especially with the hybrid of island pop, Rudder stated, “it is a natural progression for music to evolve. Back in the 70s we were listening to soul music and that’s how soul calypso, which is now soca came into existence.” Rudder also added that he has no problem with island-pop music, as long as the true essence of who we are and our music is not lost.
Equally exhilarating were the performances of Benjai and Swappi. “The people’s champion” Rodney LeBlanc popularly known by his sobriquet, Benjai, dressed to the nines in a handsome grey suit with a purple satin shirt. Benjai engaged the audience with his classic hits like “Trini” and “By De Bar” but it was his 2012 hit “The People’s Champion” that sent the crowd into a frenzy!
Soca sensation Swappi also made his first major NYC debut on the Best Buy stage. Swappi was in full 4D effect as he thrilled the ladies with “Nah Go Play” and “4D Wine” but drove the audience into pandemonium with when they heard, “Bucket.”
Backstage the star said, “I just feel so humbled and honored to even be here tonight to share the stage with fellow artistes like Kes, Benjai and the legend David Rudder. That’s an honor.”
Kes the band returned to stage for the second half of the show continuing the excitement with some more singles including those off their 2011 album Stereotype like “Weekend Love,” “Come Gyal,” “Wotless” plus “Coming Over,” “Island Love” and “Stress Away” from the latest Wired album.
Reggae songstress Tessanne Chin took breaths away when, as the surprise guest of the night, she joined Kes on stage to perform their sultry ballad “Loving You” and even serenaded the audience with her international reggae single, “Hideaway.”
“I would love to do a soca song one day but not the fast type, groovy is more my speed,” she intimated to JayBlessed.com
Even though the theater was packed to capacity, it felt more like an intimate gathering of friends and family celebrating a meaningful occasion.
But the night would not be complete without Kees’ normal antics of bringing on a voluptuous fan for his big ting small ting segment. However, that didn’t quite go as planned, when Kees’ petite frame buckled under the weight of the fan, resulting in her tumble. But all in good sportsmanship, the singer tried yet again to lift up the heavy weight, only to have himself fall and be pinned under the loyal fan.
“Like she throw wine all in he face!” said an audience member. But the willing fan has since stated that she can be dropped ten times over by the star, whom she loves dearly.
The night’s host, Crystal Cummings held her own, while early warm up was executed by New York’s young progressive sound of Caribbean music, Sounds 4 Life and System Lords International.
Special guest, His Excellency Dr. Neil Persan, Ambassador of Trinidad and Tobago, the youngest ever in his esteemed position, stated to the crowd that this is one of many events in honor and tribute in celebration of the people and the country’s contribution to the world, in this jubilee year of Independence.
Shorblu Events and Big & Strong have shifted the paradigm of soca entertainment in NYC. No longer will you solely find your Soca celebrities in Brooklyn and at venues not worthy of the caliber of their celebrity and craft. They will now be consistently sharing the same stages as rock and roll legends in Manhattan, where they rightfully belong.
It would be an understatement to say that the night wasn’t one to be remembered. And for all who had the opportunity to attend KES ALL IN at Best Buy Theater, they have a story to tell their grandchildren as they witnessed, with pride, yet another occasion of Caribbean music being featured on a world-class stage.
Next up…soca on the moon!
Watch the full KES ALL IN photo album HERE.