title taken from “Issa Blessing” by LFS Music & Lyrikal
Miami Carnival 2018
For 34 years Miami Carnival has been the main autumn event for socaholics. However, the increasing popularity of cruises and international events seemed to be attracting the interest and wallets of West Indians stateside. However, if the turnout at this year’s events is any indication, Miami Carnival is not going anywhere.
That being said, there are some improvements that promoters and organizers can make to ensure that this is indeed a can’t-miss event.
LYRIKAL & FRIENDS
Upon touchdown on Miami Carnival Thursday, I was ready to start partying. My first stop was Lyrikal & Friends - which seemed to be everyone’s first stop as Exchange Miami was PACKED! Banquets and two bar areas created only a narrow walkway around the perimeter of the club. Folks ended up dancing in the narrow walkway through the middle of the venue. Not exactly ideal for a soca party, but with hip hop and reggae (not dancehall, reggae) dominating the early part of the night, this was not much of a concern. I was worried I would spend the night against the wall, but then the soca artistes finally took the mic.
Unfortunately, they ONLY had a mic. Technical difficulties disrupted the music, but without hesitation Babyface of Elegance Sounds kicked off an a cappella session. Lyrikal then led the crowd in a singalong of “Cloud 9,” “Dip ‘n’ Roll,” and “Loner” before passing the mic to Ricardo Drue and Patrice Roberts. Sound was restored and the crowd was treated to live performances by Brooklyn’s Own LFS Music, GBM Nutron, One Voice, Motto, as well as Preedy, Nailah Blackman, and Voice out of Trinidad, Jamaica’s Linky First, St. Lucia’s Teddyson John, and Grenadian rookie V’ghn. Man, Lyro. How many friends do you have?
RISE MIAMI MEETS SHINE NYC
As I’ve said before, if you go to Miami for Carnival, you have to go to Back to Basics & Giselle The Wassi One’s Rise meets Shine. This year, the party was once again at Historic Virginia Key Beach. Good weather and pretty people in white clothes on a beach! Great deejays, a crowd full of vibes, and amazing artistes - what more could I ask for?
Well, how about more than one food station? With a crowd that large, patrons waited over an hour for food. That was literally my only complaint about this party. I was even okay with hearing dancehall (insert outrage from some of my readers here). This was not advertised as a 100% soca party and the music allowed Jamaicans can show off their shoulder flinging and stepping skills.
With great music and live performances from top artistes like Ricky T, Mr. Killa, and The Boss Iwer George, I maintain that Rise & Shine should be on your fete-tinerary.
On Saturday, I got my soca fix! I played j’ouvert in the rain with Stanman of Small Island Massive’s band Jouvert Xpress. Yes, I played in my girl SocaSaySo’s section, but as she knows, I can support and still critique. This truck had awesome deejays like Choice 1, DeeJBlaze, and Sonic Boom. I heard music from Grenada, US Virgin Islands, Dominica, Antigua, Montserrat, Barbados, Trinidad, and pretty much everywhere EXCEPT Guyana. Fix that for next time.
Also, fire the cook. Saltfish needs be soaked and deboned!
However, yes to the bartenders! I asked for a Hennessy and orange juice and I got dark brown orange juice. I contend that the drinks are what made the jouvert band get on so wild when Asa Banton told them to break off brances from a tree and run around the truck. I don’t think sober people would do this.
PARADE OF BANDS
What I like about Miami Carnival is that they have something for everyone. You can watch the parade of bands, attend a concert with your favorite soca artistes, or just put your kids in a bouncy castle while you grab a frozen adult beverage. This definitely cuts down on stormers as jumping up in someone’s band is not the only way to have fun.
After witnessing the beautiful costumes from some of New York’s top mas bands (Ramajay, Dingolay, Freaks Mas, One Island, etc.) as well as the Miami get-on group Wassi Ones. Add great deejays, strong drinks (someone let me take a sip from his cup), and live performances on the trucks, and you have the recipe for a wicked Carnival parade.
MIAMI CARNIVAL CONCERT
For those of us who did not play ah mas, we were able to attend the stage show. The artiste lineup included Scrappy, Peter Ram, Rudy Live, Ricardo Drue, Patrice Roberts, and was headlined by Kes the Band. I’m not sure why Dil E. Nadan closed out the show. They are a top cover band, but who was sticking around to see covers when the original artistes already performed? I am also still not sure what Safaree was doing there. Okay, he’s Jamaican, but he doesn’t have any dancehall tunes and no one knew the words to his songs so….
I would advise the organizers to either post signs letting people know when the concert will begin or make an announcement that can be heard near the parade route. Otherwise, patrons run the risk of missing showtime.
If you’ve never been to Miami Carnival, you are definitely missing out. The abundance of events and parties that can be attended is almost too much. I only recapitulated the events I recommend, but the independently wealthy can start partying from Wednesday all the way through Tuesday morning.
Promoters, please make sure that you keep in mind many people will likely be driving so try to keep your events near main lodging areas in Miami so that they can drink and have fun. Also, be sure that you properly describe your event. Do not print flyers saying 100% soca if you will book big deejays from other genres, like DJ Big Reef or Massive B. This is Carnival and we (SocaSaySo & I) will talk about you.
Speaking of which, be sure to check out our drunk rants on YouTube to hear our unfiltered take on the weekend’s events.
Drop a comment below and let me know what you thought of Miami Carnival 2018?