The Bad, The Good & The LEGENDary – Better treatment for Media expected from Premier Barbadian Entertainment conglomerate
It is amazing over the years how the 4th Estate and now, Social Media like this Online Publication, is lauded when publicity is needed once the event is in progress then they are placed to one side like a threadbare and moth-eaten teddy once the latest poseable Action Figure arrives for Christmas, Birthday or whatever special event.
Gilbert Melford Rowe was a past master at that, CBC and him had a running feud – he wanted their coverage for the launch of whoever was playing that year – however, on the night of the event? CBC is locked out since BET was given a Video Exclusive so in subsequent years, CBC would try to ignore then someone somewhere would invoke Government ‘Juice‘ to prod CBC via BTA and so forth citing the sole TV station as a Government arm, therefore coverage was MANDATORY…
Via my Mother, I was able to wangle a Media Pass while she worked at The Nation; it was to see Ray Charles in ’94 and Al Jarreau in ’97 at the Sir Garry Sobers Complex – however, on both occasions the organisers expected media to be sitting about 150 feet away and not move (not even to get a better angle for pictures) but once the Ushers moved I remember how myself long with Charlie Pitt (now at BGIS) and his sisters would slide up to get our close-up’s, LOL!
One of the worst treatments and best responses for such marginalisation, was an evening when a CBC Camera Crew and myself were sent to the Savannah for NIS Awards. We were not expected to eat dinner and we were also placed to view from afar about 70 feet or so in half light (The woman says no back-light so as not to disturb those dining, while we starved?)…
I heard a similar situation under Milton Gibbs with the then Secretaries Association, now Barbados Association of Office professionals – they said the camera Crew could have no lunch and must sit off to one side. Milton however, had more testosterone than previous Editors – he told the Crew come back to base and “forget” the assignment, yes, forget as in Cee-Lo! He also banned the Secretaries Association for a year!
Well, I was not an Editor, but I did just buy myself a Nokia mobile at the time, so I pretended it was on vibrate and spoke as if we were suddenly summoned for a fire (a Truck just passed which gave massive credence to my fabrication), and the coordinator was in a conniption as she wanted coverage, the driver/grip knew what I was up to (he started fiddling with cords and lights so his face would not be seen smirking) and the Cameraman suspected but I shushed him.
I looked at the official and remarked to her since there was no food and we missed our supper and by the time we got back it would soon be closing time it didn’t make much sense trying to stay especially as the view was no good to the Videographer – suddenly, she rushed off… Meanwhile, the Cameraman was a bit prissy – he says suppose they check and find out? I reply there’s more than one Editor and who did they talk to? The Driver was trying to put peace on both of us, although you could tell he was openly rooting for me to pull off the mini-Hustle.
She returns… Now, we have been shifted and are not too far from the podium, she asks us to rest our equipment and have some food and would I please call CBC to see if someone else can cover that ol’ fire? So I “called” and say to her they rented a ‘Freelancer‘ and she sighs contentedly (Cameraman says I was crazy, but the Driver treated me like a Hero from there on in)! My point is – why do I or anyone else have to resort to similar measures for respect which should have been instantaneous? If we’re good enough to highlight your programme then we’re as crucial as the event or speaker itself! The reason for this kvetching is appearing soon…
Let me also state from the outset since 1994 I have enjoyed a thoroughly professional rapport with the Plantation Garden Theatre (PGT) under Emile Straker and then subsequently with its new owners. More than once they have made sure I am part of coverage to all kinds of events despite the presence of competing Media Houses. In fact, part of the conglomerate knew me when I was knee high to a grasshopper! I am fully aware of what a tight ship they operate and so when there came a true opportunity to shine and they did offer to assist, when I expected a Life-Raft they offered a leaky matchbox – to say I was shocked was an understatement.
I was told that even though I am not part of Starcom or the Nation entourage who are Main Sponsors, that I would nevertheless receive a VIP pass, cool! So they hand me a cloth sticker for Media and the badge is from Legend’s ‘Evolver‘ Tour in 2009, Barbados don’t rate a current Pass designed? It gets better…
I am guided to the ‘Media Box,’ now the phrase sounds sexy, but my “Spider Sense” jumped based on how previous incidents rolled and while I wish I was wrong? I was more than right! It’s the same damn area cordoned off by Rowe for Jarreau and Ray Charles over a decade ago! Plus, even Nation & Starcom getting this shabby treatment despite Sponsorship? Wow!
There’s still more; when one wishes to take photos you are to keep inside a taped oblong about 7×9 feet and only for the first three songs – WHAT? I am shrieking in my mind, I start juggling if I should head home… Again the “Spider Sense” whispers, now it’s urging me to stay? All the while I am feverishly tapping entries to Facebook via my Blackberry…
MASALA – GREAT MIXTURE INDEED
So Philip 7 and the local alternative band Masala came on as the opening act, OMG – how Philip has improved all over as a consummate showman! He had a wide variety of songs for his stint which opened about 8:00 pm, he did Shirley Stewart’s “Walk Away From Love,” a cover of Lady Antebellum’s hit duet “Need You Now” with Betty Griffith (The emcee Varia Williams called her Betty Payne) once known as ‘Kitorah‘ and apart from a moving display with the St Leonard’s Boy’s Choir he also did justice to Cee-Lo Green’s “Forget You” which summed up how I felt at that moment!
Then Masala’s very brief session was concluded and while they cleared the way from Masala for John legend? One of the roadies drops a Peavey speaker on the stage ground just so – BLAM! I had a bottle of water before the session began and now felt the urge, I was thinking why didn’t Varia tell folks Intermission and then John Legend so I have time to pee? I couldn’t wait and as i was heading for the restrooms she finally gets on stage to suggest what I thought about five minutes before, only she says show begins at 9:00 pm and when I look at the watch? 8:47 pm!
So I rush and discover there are hardly any lines to either bathroom as Men are using the Ladies and Women are in the Men’s, well I stick to my stall, thanks! Cat luck not dog luck… So it’s 9:06 when I return, barely had time to change my batteries before the Ruction starts, huh?
The patrons start surging forward like lemmings on PCP, then suddenly G4S guards appear from nowhere and John Legend’s personal Bodyguard starts screaming at everyone, BTW this dude makes ME look anorexic! But I see everyone close to the stage and I look at myself dancing about in this putrid square allotted by organisers to take what kind of pictures? Those people are getting better pics than me? Hell to the *****, NO!
I merge with the rabble rousers, laughing since I don’t see any other media with me – great, exclusivity for me… Then Legend’s protector pokes me hard in the shoulder… “My man, this is Barbados,” I roared above the din, “We say ‘Excuse Me,’ since if I was to shove you like that then you would wanna pick a fight on me!” He screeches he’s not being an A****le, and he did say ‘Excuse me,’ but I remind him I am not using any cursing language and he needs to learn how to deal with people – I meet him eye to eye, he then rolls his eyes and walks away… Probably convinced Bajans are the weirdest passive-aggressives ever and he may not be wrong!
So much for the 3 song curfew, if Legend was annoyed? It did not show, as he walked up and down the stage, pausing to allow the audience to snap their phones like they are some Ultra-Paparazzi! The man deserves his stardom, John Legend sounds better Live than he does Pre-Recorded!
IN HIS OWN TIME
The highlight of the night was when he brought a Bajan lady on to the stage, she just FREAKED! She was stamping her feet, crying non-stop; I thought she was gonna pass out as he slow danced with her… Then as she was leaving he asked her back to give her a rose on bended knee? O, M, G!!! You can imagine what guys said about the poor girl, like what state certain clothing is like and so on… They were just jealous that Legend has a way with ladies, IMO!
I thought his backing vocalists were all gorgeous, especially Jessica Wilson who did a duet high up in the show while Lacey Jones did one of his slow reggae cuts with him. What was ironic is that while Security was so concerned about the Front Stage posse? It was the Balcony crew who bagged videos on the sly then touted it on Youtube!
Heaven Only Knows, Hard Times, Wake Up Everybody and Green Light were some of the many hits JL regaled the eager crowd, he saved “Ordinary People” and “Stay With Me” for the encore (Okay – yes, that was me screaming like a Banshee for “MORE“)!
I enjoyed myself finally but I did not see why the Media (mainstream or Social) had to be marginalised? Isn’t it those same venues which were exercised to make the event so popular in the first place? Give respect where due, like myself, although disappointed in one sense in another I am grateful for the opportunity to view a truly Legendary performance, I salute and appreciate the PGT in successfully getting JL to the Wildey Gymnasium, but still expect sterling work at all times!