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Fans pack Under the Trees for Rudder 6.5

Published: 
Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Five years ago, at Rudder 6.0, staged at the Grand Stand in the Queen’s Park Savannah, Portof- Spain, David Rudder offered a number of hit songs from the past from artistes such as The Beatles, Marvin Gaye, Bob Marley, The Rolling Stones, and a host of others, which he credited as having had an influence on his chosen career as an entertainer and recording artiste.

“That concert was an historical look at the music that influenced me, tonight’s concert will take another look at the music I have created for the people over the 56 years of my career,” he said, prior to taking the stage Under The Trees at The Normandie Hotel in St Ann’s last Saturday night (May 5) for Rudder 6.5, a celebratory concert in recognition of his 65th birthday.

The venue was jam-packed with loyal patrons of the work produced by the iconic entertainer, prompting Fire Service officers on duty to restrict admission, after a while, to ensure their safety.

Rudder has always ensured that lead guitarist Wayne Bruno and the Rapid Response band are the professional musicians who accompany him at his gigs, where possible. The music they provided on the occasion—sharp horn lines, fancy guitar work, and throbbing percussion— along with the competent harmonies of the back-up singers, allowed patrons to enjoy, to the max, Rudder 6.5.

In addition to Bruno, other accomplished musicians included Kenneth Baptiste, Albert Bushe, Barry Howard, Jeremy Ledbetter, Ryan Romany, Vernon Headley, Hadyn Robin, Kayode Charles, Allan Nelson, Kensa James, Michelle Marfan-Urquhart, Cherise, Browne, Michelle Assing, and Tamba Gwindi.

It was an anniversary for the veteran percussionist Gwindi, as well. “This event is also like an anniversary of sorts for me because it marks 28 years of working with David on stage, in the calypso tents, at his concerts locally, along with Charlie’s Roots and Wayne Bruno and the Rapid Response Bands, throughout the Caribbean, and in the recording studios. I salute David for his commitment to keeping live percussion in the mix over the years and his contribution to keeping our people thinking in the midst of the music,” he said. In the audience, and also celebrating a birthday with Rudder on the occasion, was businessman Satish Pariagh of 2001 Carpet House in Chaguanas.

“I rescheduled a travel arrangement to be here tonight,” he said. “I have been a Rudder fan for many, many years, and never miss an opportunity to see him perform.”

Rudder offered about 50 selections from his extensive repertoire, venturing down memory lane with acclaimed hits such as Bahia Girl, Calypso Music, Song for a Lonely Soul, Mad Man Rant, Jump Up, Madness, Calabash, Permission to Mash Up de Place, Trini to the Bone, Hammer, Long Time Band, and High Mas.

In remembrance of the late calypso aficionado Diane Marshall-Holdip, he offered The Power of the Song, a selection that pays tribute to the late Grandmaster Kitchener.

Accompanied by Michael “Ming” Low Chew Tung on keyboards and Jeremy Ledbetter on Melodica (a free-reed instrument similar to the pump organ and harmonica) he skilfully executed the littleknown songs Tuesday Night Lover, It’s Only Natural, and Fire Queen.

A poignant moment was his touching rendition of I Will Always Be There For you, a musical, metaphor-laden pledge of loyalty to T&T sung by Melanie Hudson in the 1990s. Rudder’s performance also invoked a variety of emotions. At times, he induced quiet reflection, at other times gaiety, and on occasions, a sense of national pride.

Rudder has the distinction of being the only person to take all available titles in a single year, having won the National Calypso Monarch, Young Kings and Road March competitions in 1986. His Hammer was also the Tune of Choice that year for the National Panorama winner, Trinidad All Stars.

Rudder has since eschewed all calypso contests, but continues to supply works of an integrity equal to most and superior to many of his peers; examining in his lyrics and music a number of revolutionary concepts.

Rudder 6.5 goes to Toronto, Canada, next month, for staging at the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts, on June 9.

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