Sunday, April 18, 2010

Dominica Stamps

Stamp collecting has never been the most trendiest of hobbies hence my slight hesitation in confessing to collecting Dominica stamps when I was younger.
Always drawn to colour I loved the beautiful vibrant designs on many of our stamps, but often wondered why some of the subjects featured, had nothing to do with the country.
e.g Dominica Honors David Copperfield

Dominican artist David wilson recently raised a discussion question "How can we use our art to create cultural visibility for our country" and one of the suggestions from Glenford John was to have images of artists work on Dominica stamps.
I thought that would be a great idea so am now on a mission to find out who decides Dominica stamp design and how possible is their idea.
I have some information from the Post Office to but if anyone has any information, let me know.

Other possible design ideas:
- Kalinago people & culture
- Dominican muscians & singers
- Dominica culture, dance etc (It looks like creole wear has already been done)
- Creole cuisine
- Traditional Fishing Boats
- Past Prime Ministers
- The Real Mas
etc etc

These are a selection of the stamps I have
Dominica Stamps slideshow

Here are some past Dominica stamp designs - Dominica - Dominica
Dominica Stamps - Dominica - Dominica1 - Dominica2 - Dominica3

Monday, April 5, 2010

Miracle Lake (Lake Matthieu), Dominica

Miracle Lake (Lake Matthieu) at Layou I think is an underrated attraction and is an impressively large, beautiful, emerald lake set in another lush Dominican valley.
Only 13 years old, the lake was formed after a massive landslide blocked up a river opening.
The saftey of the site is still being investigated so stand well back from edges and contact the owner of the land on or before your visit.
The risk of actually going down to the lake needs to considered because no-one really knows how well set the dam is. I guess the same goes for river tubing down the Layou river below.
Nature can be unpredictable anywhere in the world so caution is always advised especially in inclement weather conditions.
If you haven't been, then take a drive up there and blow your horn when you get to the end so that the land owner Christborn Shillingford (AKA Rambo) can give you a guided tour.
If the area is going to be attract more visitors then it would be good if there were better edge barriers and information on how the site was formed and proper investigation into how stable the ridge is.
I think it's well worth seeing this amazing body of water and demonstration of the awesome power of nature.

Click here for more photos of the lake

Some more information about the lake formation:
Lennox Honychurch
Public Seismic Network - Lakes of Dominica
CDERA Report of the landslide

Thursday, April 1, 2010

The Year of the Child Jazz Concert, Dominica

In January I attended the 1st Dominica “Year of the Child” Concert held at Krazy Kokonuts in Roseau. It was a top class reggae event with an impressive line-up of stars including Tony Rebel, Queen Ifrica & Duane Stephenson as well as our own local talent in the form of Nelly Stharre, Fanatik Band, Aima Moses, Dr. Silk, Natural Vybz and others. Most agreed it was a success and the trouble free, “good vibes”, entertaining event raised ECD$20,000 for Camp Rescue, a charity organization providing much needed life skills to at risk youth.

When I heard that the 2nd concert was going to be a Jazz concert held at the State House grounds, I must admit I thought it was a seriously brave move and I was a little worried for the organisers. It’s one thing for the hard working and well respected Nelly Stharre to have the support of her friends in organising a reggae event at a popular venue but a whole other thing to organise a Jazz event at a venue I have never seen used for a music concert. Although we have our share of die-hard Jazz fans, the genre has not received massive popularity in Dominica as shown in the demise of the missed “Jazz Walk”.

The event was held on March 27th and was due to start at 6pm. The weather was great and people started arriving before 6pm which was an encouraging sign but took the organisers by surprise; the food and drink stalls were not ready (for most events you can normally safely expect that things will not get going until at least half an hour after the scheduled start time). From then on there was a steady flow of people and soon it was apparent that the crowd numbers were going to be good.

Dominican flutists opened the proceedings with the National Anthem and Athie Martin was the competent MC. The line up was: Steel pan with Athie Martin, his brother Julie & friends (DMA), Kannick (GLP), Gelina Fontaine and Ross Leblanc (DMA), Armstrong James and his “Jazz Walk” band (DMA), Jahkoostick Musical Ensemble (JAM), Nelly Stharre (DMA), Free Joseph and friends (DMA), Marie-Claire Giraud (DMA), Arturo Tappin (BRB), Cornell Phillip & Athie Martin (DMA) and Arturo Sandoval (CUB).
There was also a surprise visit from Ms Barbados Leah Marville who has a charity called The Love Campaign which helps children with HIV/AIDS.

All the bands looked like they were genuinely having a good time and the crowd seemed to be enjoying the mellow vibe too. It was probably a long time since many had heard live Jazz in Dominica.

I enjoyed them all but my personal favourite of the night was Arturo Tappin. What a cool dude with his super long locks. I just loved his “down to earth” energy. An amazing entertainer, at one point he took off his shoes, rolled up his trousers and jumped of the stage to play bare foot walking through the crowd. He was also really approachable and accommodating for signatures and photos.

It turned out to be a fab concert and I was so glad my worries were allayed.
The rain, although needed, delayed things slightly and sent some people scurrying for shelter and sent others home prematurely. There were also some minor mike/sound issues and a couple of the performances went on a little too long but overall I thought the Jazz concert was a resounding success.

What really made this event extra special was not just the great line up, it was the attention to the little details which hinted that some serious effort and thought had been invested. Bamboo flambeau’s, potted plants, draped fabric for stage back drop, seating, tables with candles and an area for local artisans to display and sell their arts & craft on the venue grounds, created just the right ambience for this type of concert. Paintings by local artists Earl Etienne, Ellingsworth Moses and Petros Meaza & CDs, body oils and hand made greeting cards were on sale but it was a shame more artisans did not take up the offer to display.

I am already looking forward to the next event. The team seem to have a winning formula of affordable ticket price, well chosen venues (catering for crowds but not loosing that essential level of intimacy), good stage management and quick set changes (yippee!!) and an entertaining and professional line-up of local and international talent.

So, much kudos and massive respect to the visionary and hard working “Year of the Child” team, the artists who gave freely of their time, the sponsors, the behind the scenes volunteers and of course the general public who came out to show their support and enjoy an amazing night of good music in support of a good cause. This time the proceeds will be going to children affected by HIV/AIDS.

To me these concerts exemplify just how far Peace, Love, Passion & Determination can take you and others with you and I hope many more will be supporting their journey to “Rebuilding our nation one child at a time”.

Year of The Child Organisers: Nelly Stharre, Anna Raffoul, Emile Raffoul, Cornell Phillip and Marie-Claire Giraud.

Sponsors: BET Centric, LIAT, Dominica Beverage and Brewery Ltd., Fort Young Hotel, LIME, Papillote Wilderness Retreat

Click to view a slideshow of Year of the Child Jazz Concert Images.