Bluefields, RAAS, Apr. 25-What a better day to kick off the beginning of a great program. "Bring Back The Culture Festival 2001." April 11,  2001 marked the day when SLC., Inc. in association with World Sound Records delivered to the Caribbean coast community of Nicaragua a day filled with joy and gladness.

The weather was just perfect as everyone danced to the Reggae rhythms of Yvonne Curtis and Ray Mondo backed by one of the finest Reggae band out of Nicaragua "Soul Vibration." Thanks to the members of "Soul Vibration" the festival was a huge success (Raymond Myers, Felipe Montalvan, Larry Omeir, Puchi, Javier, Vita Myers and the Drummer.)

Many are calling it a day in history. A day for those who missed it will forever regret it.

The wonderful evening started off with the young ladies from the OBAYOM movement in Old Bank. They came out dancing to the tune of the "Flag Girls Coming" a song by "Square One" with the Nicaraguan flag waving. As they paused with the flag held at each end the singing of the National anthem was sung and played by Reynold Murray with backing vocals by Daphnie Lewin and Ronda Brown and Ms. Carmen Joseph. A wonderful performance it was. For the very first time the National anthem was played to the rhythm of Reggae. Bruce from Cotton Tree the man with the iron teeth then opened two coconut for the public with his teeth.

As the sun went down people saw the sound crew putting together a huge screen but had no idea what it was. Little did they know their faces would be all over it once darkness came. While this is going on "The Sorosi Band"  went on stage to perform and received a certificate of achievement for maintaining our culture. This certificate was presented by members of SLC., Inc. The presence of one of the members of the Sorosi ban moved everyone in the audience. Mr. Veckpell Perry who recently suffered a stroke was unable to perform but he was present with the instrument he used to play as a member of the band by request of SLC. A few of the members were not present because of illness, others had family emergencies and one of them had recently passed away, Mr. Woodrow Wilson. No one could tell the difference. The substitutes did a wonderful job. They rocked the crowd. Everyone was dancing. They closed out their part of the program with a popular hit on the Caribbean coast performed by big Sabu, "Live Your Life"

As the evening progressed we had a wonderful performance by the Garifunas group from Orinoco. They dance to their native drums and music. Another lone star then followed with yet another stellar performance singing a wonderful song "Thank God For The Coconut Milk." As the night fell upon Bluefields Luis Hodgson (Little Sabu) took center stage and delivered what we refer to as a knockout punch.

Soul vibration then took over and rocked us all with hits such as: Rock Down Central America, Am Black History Am Black  Culture and the song that captured all of us "Autonomy" as we move forward still fighting to gain the freedom to rule ourselves by our own principles.

Just when everyone thought it was all over they were presented with a video on the big screen. A documentary video of when Bluefields was destroyed by hurricane Joan and the determination of the people to rebuild. Another surprise of the evening was the presence of Mr. Jimmy Mack. His albums includes, Unconditionally, STFEO, Missing You and Reflections

I am still trying to find words enough to describe the performance given by Yvonne Curtis and Ray Mondo. Never before has Bluefields and the Caribbean coast of Nicaragua experienced such a performance. It was history in the making. People came from all over; USA, the communities and the Pacific of Nicaragua.

Ray Mondo repeatedly teased the crowd with the first few words of his hit song "Pack Your Things" just to walk away and say "good things comes to those who wait" As he teased "Uh, I Don't Want You No More" the crowd screamed so loud chills took over the body. "Popo" (Lila Marquinez) shouted, "Ray Mondo I love you, I love you Ray Mondo, please don't leave" These were Popo's words as Ray sung "You Really Want Me To Go." When Ray actually performed "Pack Your Things" everyone screamed and started to sing along. Chills runs through the body as I observed the crowd singing along with Yvonne Curtis and Ray Mondo words for words. What a show!

Yvonne Curtis blew the crowd away as she started out singing "Yvonne Say Hello" from the get go she had the crowd hypnotize. It was all Popo once again as she shouted "Yvonne, we thank you for your hello." It seems as though a spell had fallen over the audience as she sung "Stealing Love On The Side" Yvonne then took them far away as she wined and moved her hips with "Three Minutes Man",   "Sugar Bum Bum" and "Fire In The Back Seat"

Popo once again yelled out Ms. Yvonne where are you from? I want to die knowing where you are from! Yvonne turned to her and said, Jamaica! The crowd erupted. Now I know what they mean when they say "I Can Feel The Music In My Bones" when Yvonne Curtis and Ray Mondo are on stage feeding off the energy of the audience, you can only imagine. Well, to experience the feeling make sure you purchase a copy of the video once it becomes available. Wow!

Many thanks to the following for their help and contribution with the first "Bring Back The Culture Festival"

World Sound Records
Soul Vibration
Sorosi Band
The Garifunas
Luis Hodgson (Sabu)
Reynold Murray
Daphnie Lewin
Ronda Brown
Best Western Hotel Las Mercedes
Panamco Coca Cola
Atlantic Airlines
Radio Point 3
Radio Zinica
Guy Cox
Hotel Caribbean Dreams
Michael Lewin
Rubiard Murray
Ellen Lewin
Dina Lewin for assisting Yvonne Curtis
Marvalee Hodgson for assisting Yvonne Curtis with her hair and training the OBAYOM youth.
Virginia Prudo
Diana Alvarado for taking us the long way thru Mercado Huembes for rehearsal
Midgett R.
Marlon Cruz
Richard Hodgson
Randolph Brown
To the youth for helping us out at the stadium
And to those whose names are not listed, you know who you are. Many thanks, we see you next year for "Bring Back The Culture Festival 2002" featuring "Pete Campbell and Ann & Sonia"

G. Lewin



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