TRIPping the light fantastic – Barbadian Greek Restaurant OPA! really paints the town red in Hastings!

Opa! Greek Restaurant in Hastings has gone through as many personalities as Jason Bourne – in the mid-80’s it was called Sandy Bank, then X-Ray’s, to Shak-Shak & Almond Bay… Now Opa! is adding a bit of Captain Jack Sparrow to the feel of the place – soon there’ll be the Black Pearl seafood & steakhouse Wine Bar added to the personalities that have inhabited this complex over the decades; more on that soon!

Some of the new decor was apparent Friday nite when I passed by to check out the new trio called Trip – consisting of Mario Porchetta, Kal (usually seen in the Nation Classifieds offering Guitar lessons) who does not like being called “Picklefingers” as what Gaynel Marshall did on Love 104.1 FM the other day, and Richard “Bill” Evans.

Rich brilliant reds worthy of Mars or Ares splashed the walls, new types of window alcoves with shattered mosaics reflecting the varied aspects of those who gaze in the myriad shards and rather than a barrel-couch in the middle of the floor in front of the restaurant as it used to be, there’s now a partitioned cozy nook for a small tete-a-tete or other intimate gathering of four on a squeeze but more likely 2 or 3 patrons at a sitting.

Many patrons that night reflected deep interest from both the music industry here and those in the local arts – A&B Music Supplies/ex-SandPebble Norman Barrow; Lisa Howell singer & fmr. Richard Stoute Teen Talent contestant; DJ Simmons from poetry/spoken word group Iron Sharpen Iron; NCF Officer & rythm-poet Aja; former English Teacher in Japan/ Main Coordinator of Le Mot Juste/ reporter of B’dos Advocate Enricco Bohne; ex-Beauty Queen contestant Nada Yearwood; Blues guitarist/ Advertising audio specialist Toby Armstrong; noted poet/ guitarist Garvie; former calypso monarch John King and many more were packed into this popular eatery & bar!

Kal is the lead vocalist and conducts all the audience interaction – he’s very straightfwd in his talk with the crowd and a bit dry in his chat, perhaps he needs a gimmick or leavening with some humour, but then again this patter will be more relaxed as he comes into his own, but I am curious what “Bill” can offer to the chat, since he appears very animated between tunes…

Mario is absolute master of his percussionry jumping from timbales to shak-shaks or maracas or beatbox like how a racing car driver shifts gears!

Kal also needs to remember what most opera and gospel performers as well as newscasters are taught from the very start – drop your register down! This means breathe from your rib-cage or diaphragm rather than your throat or neck region – it allows for air to sing longer and sustain notes better and adds a rich tone or timbre to the voice. You also do not get tired so fast.

I hope TRIP can budget for a sound engineer sooner rather than later, when they began – Kal’s voice was barely heard in their interpretation of Usher’s “I Just Can’t Stop” as their debut that nite; I heard they did a sound check that afternoon and it was “Fine,” but as a Crop Over session player and teacher observed – that was when there was no audience to absorb extraneous or ambient notes PLUS they could have corrected it more quickly if their monitor speakers were situated directly in front of them rather than at peripheral angles.

The group did a majority of covers and two original songs – the new one which stayed with me was Kal’s “Catch Her” a story of a young lady attaining maturity. Other tunes under the threesome’s attention included America’s “Horse With No Name,” Bob Dylan’s “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door,” Gershwin’s “Summertime” with the help of Andrea from the new Jazz Club on Bay Street and they also tackled the reggae version of “Wild World” from Cat Stevens as well as Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song” but they did no requests.

A new trend appears to be developing in the Greek restaurant as a prelude to the new Black Pearl steakhouse, there was a cabaret presentation at half-time as TRIP took a break… The crowd seemed somewhat lukewarm in its response, this was an act which may be more suited for the same Jazz Club close to the City or even as far afield as Holetown perhaps at Lexy’s Bar on Mews Street.

Nevertheless, it was good to hear songs familiar to my parents such as “Whatever Lola Wants” or Peggy Lee’s “Fever” and watching the feather moas shed all over the place! It kind of reminded me of the vampy shows when Ocean View existed as coordinated by Patrick Foster and David McCarthy with Audrey Sheppard and Taymar Outram plus Andrew MacKenzie.

However, when juxtaposed with the more contemporary folk-feel of TRIP, it seemed out of sorts rather than out of place – the locale of Opa! as it is right now can easily accommodate either act, but as a combined force it seemed like McCain & Palin as opposed to Biden & Obama.

All in all, it was a fun night despite a few hiccoughs and I can’t wait to give the band a chance to iron out the jagged edges for a smooth delivery in about 3 or 4 weeks!

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