Jesse's Jams : Press for the Best of de Blues!
ROOTS recently made Junkanoo history as they took a dynamic presentation of the culture to the Corporate Hospitality Village of Super Bowl XXXV, where they performed in collaboration with the Tallahassee Bahamas Junkanoo Group. Everywhere you walked in the Village there at the Raymond James Stadium in Tampa they were rockin' and rollin' and extolling the virtues of that marvelous Junkanoo presentation. ROOTS looked pretty, to say the least and represented their culture fabulously. They, as well as the Florida A&M University students of the Tallahassee Bahamas Junkanoo Group are to be congratulated for rushing so hard in Tampa. We look forward to seeing them more and more on the worldscene as Junkanoo continues to jam around the world.
ROOTS in da Mornin'! ROOTS, There It Is! That rhythmic cultural call signals that you are in for an intense performance treat of a lifetime. ROOTS, accompanied by the sounds of those powerful goatskin drums with their soul-stimulating rhythms, the showstopping brass section for which the group has become famous; ROOTS with the jangle of hundreds of cowbells, the conchshells, whistles, and odd-shaped horns of every description; ROOTS, with the masterfully choreographed and totally in sync African dance movements, not to mention huge, vibrantly colored and designed costumes, representing months of cultural Carnival artwork and the themes that depict island and world history, culture, flora and fauna. Oh yes, let me tell you, there’s nothing like the jams and joys of Junkanoo! Oh yes, let me tell you there’s nothing like ROOTS IN DA MORNIN’.
One of the Bahamas top Junkanoo performance groups, ROOTS made its entrance on the Junka scene in l991. A powerful and highly popular group as soon as it stepped on Nassau’s Bay Street, ROOTS carried home a victory only a short year later on New Year’s Day 1992. Since that time, although it is one of the Bahamas’ youngest Junkanoo groups, ROOTS has continued to dynamically hold its own as one of the the nation’s leading cultural presences and top Junkanoo contenders.
ROOTS, in fact, made history as one of the first Junkanoo groups to produce its own CD of the powerful Carnival music, an excerpt of which you’re hearing for the first time on the Worldwide Web here on the Junkanoo SOULsite. (You’ll also be able to secure your own copy from our Junka site by late February ‘98) So well received was this ROOTS IN DA MORNIN’ CD that when I went to the l997/98 Junkanoo festivities, the CDs and tapes were completely sold out, and I only managed to get a copy several months later at a Bahamian-American Cultural Society event here in New York.
Both Bahamians and Bahamas lovers in attendance were truly delighted to finally obtain a copy of this fabulous Junkanoo music --vibrant ancestral rhythms which gives a tantalizing taste of the musical potency of Junkanoo, a highlife cultural event which, in my humble estimation, definitely has no global equal.
Speaking of ancestral presence, Junkanoo, as explained on the ROOTS CD, stems from the creativity and talents of the African-descended slaves who took their rhythms to the streets on Boxing Day (Dec. 26th) to enjoy the few hours of freedom of movement allowed to them just after Christmas. Although the costumes today are colorful, intricately designed masterpieces of art, those early ancestors covered themselves with the sponges that were then plentiful in the Bahamas. (Later shredded newspaper was used which has now been replaced by costumes of artfully decorated cardboard and rainbow-colored crepe paper strips). The Spirit of Junkanoo, descended from the rich ceremonies of Africa, is named in honor of a powerful, sagacious Ghanaian leader, John Connu (or John Conny), and was transported with the ancestors brought from those ancestral shores.
In an interview in JUNKANOO Newspaper* (May 16-June 15, 1998), Peter Turnquest, one of the leaders of ROOTS states, “Junkanoo is a major enterprise. The parade is amajor exposition of talent and the venue for the creation of some of the most beautiful pieces of art work ever seen. I always tell everyone that I speak to that Junkanoo is a world class business... The Junkanoo artisans are world class producers. As far as I am aware, there isn’t anyone else in the world creating the kind of art which we produce out of raw materials like cardboard, wire, crepe paper, flour, and glue. That in itself, gives the Bahamas and Bahamians a sense of uniqueness. We can claim this art form, Junkanoo, as our own. It is indigenous to the Bahamas. This puts Junkanoo art on the same level as any other art form for presentation in art galleries or museums around the world.”
Congratulations to Peter Turnquest, to ardent Junkanoo enthusiast and dynamic ROOTS co-leader, Paul C. Knowles, with whom I had the pleasure of chatting while in the Bahamas for Junkanoo ‘99, and to ROOTS IN DA MORNIN’ gifted CD Producer/Arranger, Chris Justilien, as well as to the wonderful Bahamian ROOTSpeople and performers for an outstanding Junkanoo job and for consistently outstanding cultural presentations in the Bahamas most powerful cultural offering--JUNKANOO. ROOTS! There It Is!
copyright (c) Cultural Travel Publications 1999
* (For more information on the JUNKANOO Newspaper, take a swift cybersurf to our JUNKAVIEWS page.)