If the Caribbean had a heart, Haiti would be the first of the countries in the basin contending for that title. The warmth of its people, the sun, the history, the landscape and the music all combine to make Haiti a legendary place.
“Strings” was born there. At first glance, it is quite likely that this simple word might not mean very much to those who are not aware of this phenomenal trio of guitarists, accompanied by three percussionists, two female vocalists and a Latin flutist. For those in the know, “Strings” is much more than a simple word – it is a milestone in the history of contemporary instrumental music.
Jacky Ambroise (the band leader), Philippe Augustin and former member Ralph Blanchard decided to join their destinies in Haiti one day in April 1996. From the start, their artistic restlessness took them down the very paths they are now travelling with the skill of those who are born to succeed. Their point of departure is the folk music from Haiti; however, the sensitive and melodious style of this trio of acoustic guitars crosses boundaries of the other musical rhythms inspired by flamenco and Latin America, with versatility and professionalism.
The nine members of “Strings” are no strangers to the more demanding classics from all eras and all styles, ranging from Beethoven to the Beatles. Their mastery of technique, harmony composition, arrangements and interpretation of musical scores has made them starting with their first appearance on stage almost nine years ago, one of the favorite performers in the most renowned concert halls in the world. Wherever good music is the main dish, there is a place reserved at the table for “Strings”.
In fact, the release from “Strings” on the Crossover Record label of their compact discs “Tropical Mood”, “Flamenco Tropical”, “Island Follies” and their most recent release ”Coconut Groove” includes their own composition as well as interpretation from other renowned composers, are destined to become international successes. “Tropical Mood” is a delicious walk on the score sheet, where in “Flamenco Tropical” even the pauses are richly melodious and the notes are performed with such mastery that it is difficult to choose a song without dismissing the others we enjoyed. All of this is due in part to the popular feeling that although contemporary music already existed before “Strings” was founded, from now on it would be hard to conceive of a musical world which does not include these magnificent performers.
“Strings” has in its core a group of talented musicians dedicated to the movement of acoustic sound. They are composed of three percussionists; Arus Joseph (conga player), Pierre Alcius (drummer), Serge Laguerre (percussionist); three guitars, replacing Ralph Blanchard, Camille Fortune (second guitar), Philippe Augustin (bass guitar), and band leader Jacque Ambroise (lead guitar); two singers Melissa Dauphine (lead female vocalist) and Anotte St-Ford (background vocalist); and the only “Latino” known as Chino Gerardo Pena ( Flutist).
For the third time in the history of Jazz in the South, Strings will be the headliner at Balenbouche 0n Sunday 1 May. By popular demand…….
Disturbing Joan started as a bunch of surfers in Saint Lucia with a couple of beat up guitars. Joan lived next door to the initial band room and the name seemed an obvious choice. From inception there was creativity, and a small but loyal underground fan base emerged who kept coming back for the band’s clever fusion of rock and reggae.
The band cut their teeth in Rodney Bay’s fledgling bar scene of the late nineties, finally getting a chance in 2001 to open for Malcolm Jamal Warner’s band during Jazz on the Square. Their debut album, Bush Tea, was released in Saint Lucia in August 2002, and earned an M&C; Fine Arts music award the following year.
They jumped at the chance to open for Barrington Levy and Third World in early 2003, and appeared at a new venue during Saint Lucia Jazz – Jazz on the Beach. Later that year, they completed a hugely successful tour of Martinique, earning them return bookings for New Year’s Eve.
A concert in Anse la Raye in February 2004 sparked the interest of former Creed producer, Ron St. Germain who kindly offered to pitch the CD to Volcom. In March they released their first video, Affluence, from the Bush Tea album and performed at two venues during Saint Lucia Jazz. 2004 closed with tours to Martinique and Trinidad, where they opened for that country’s biggest rock act, Orange Sky.
2005 finds them recording their second album. A single entitled Inner Creature off the new album will be released along with a video, leading up to their appearance at Jazz in the South on Wednesday 4 May. Whether the audience is 4 or 4,000, Disturbing Joan is always ready to launch into their brand of entertainment that leaves audiences thoroughly entertained.
As a musician, producer, arranger, composer and performer, Ronald "Boo" Hinkson has been making sweet music in his homeland 'Simply Beautiful' St. Lucia for more than three decades. His mother was instrumental in his early musical development having taught him to play the guitar. Growing up as an island boy, listening to jazz, provided the background for fusing jazz with Caribbean rhythms evidenced by his approach to music. His unique styling on the guitar moves from one musical genre to another with consummate ease.
Hinkson formed the well-known Tru Tones in the 60s comprising his brothers and friends. The group had a following much like the Beatles in the UK in their time. The group recorded its first album in the 70s. The group recorded a total of five albums and six singles including, "Burning Eyes," "Hungry Belly," and a remake of Hot Chocolates "Sexy Thing."
When the group broke up, Hinkson continued performing as a solo artist. In the process he set up his own session bands and began leaning towards Jazz music. His first solo CD, Alive and Well was released in 1995, containing a blend of Jazz with a Caribbean and R&B twist. Recently he released a Calypso album featuring both Trinidadian and St. Lucian artists. He has written songs for both himself and others. These include Reggae, Calypso, Soca, R&B and Blues. One of his reggae songs made it on the British reggae charts in 1998.
Among countries he has toured extensively are: Germany, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America. Frequent performances at the Caribbean's Jazz Festivals have made him a household name throughout the region.
Hinkson has opened for guitar greats such as George Benson and Kenny Burell.