In Pictures... Slide #1 - Slide #2
Brooklyn, New York, USA - It was the dawning of a cool Labor Day morning as the sun peaked from between the clouds, rising as one looked east along Empire Boulevard. Paused briefly in the cross section of Bedford Avenue and Empire, was an SUV presumably carrying a dignitary - who never emerged at that juncture. Shadowing that SUV was both an NYPD SUV and a “paddy wagon.” But they were not who the spectators milling about in anticipation were waiting to see.
Empire Boulevard Labor Day morning before the start of J’Ouvert 2022 - Brooklyn, New York
For J’Ouvert and Ole Mas lovers the ritual of steelbands, rhythm sections, ole mas characters, fancy mas, jab jab and more from the beginning of the route at Grand Army Plaza and Eastern Parkway, were what they turned out for. With some still cautious about large gatherings post-COVID, and others probably reacting to the unparalleled wall-to-wall ‘coverage’ by media outlets in the immediate days leading up to the event about potential violence and the authorities’ ‘readiness’ in this regard - there was a definitive reduction in both participation and spectators for the 2022 New York J’Ouvert.
Those who made it a point to welcome back the celebration in person were rewarded just after 6:45 a.m. with the appearance of event organizer officials J’Ouvert City International, Inc. (JCI) showing their banner. Immediately following were Harmony Music Makers, the first of just four steelbands for this J’Ouvert. Harmony soon pulled to the side directly in front of the panel of judges for the first of three competitions - Steelband Calypso. The judges here included Khuent Rose, Tamika Garcia-Harris, Terrence Demas, Martin Albino and André White. There would be two more points of competition further on: Masband, Individuals and Flag Waving at corner Bedford and Rogers Avenues, and finally the Steelband ‘Bomb’ and Rhythm in front of Allan’s Bakery at 1109 Nostrand Avenue.
Panel of judges: Khuent Rose, Tamika Garcia-Harris, Terrence Demas, Martin Albino and André White
J’Ouvert would not be J’Ouvert without the Greenhouse Jab Jab, which for 2022 via “The Purge” declared “All Hell Break Loose” - an ‘immersive’ experience for the willing participants... Next were the rule-breakers - literally - going by the name “The Real Jab Jab.” They broke the cardinal rule - no DJ or amplified music allowed. Sacred tenet of J’Ouvert in New York - “Yes” only to musical accompaniment by rhythm sections and bands, and steelbands. Period. The “The Real Jab Jab” came equipped with huge speakers tethered to each corner of their elevated rack. So disqualified.
Speakers in use by “The Real Jab Jab” just under their rack
The balance of culture and tradition was restored in the J’Ouvert world with the appearance of Pan Rebels Steel Orchestra, along with their fans who were happy to see the group back out after a hiatus of more than two decades - and all others who blessed the remainder of the proceedings. King Jab & Friends collaborated with Natural Expression for their presentation of “Jab At The Gala.”
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Kutters J’Ouvert Mas followed in the wake of “Jab At The Gala” and then it was out-of-towners but-always-welcome Philadelphia (Philly) Pan Stars providing music for fancy mas revelers “Lavagem - The Cleansing - From Bahia to Brooklyn.” Bringing up the rear and making their musical presence known was veteran Hearts of Steel Steel Orchestra headed by Michael Demas.
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Meeting up people along the route, they were expecting more bands. “How many more up the road?” one asked as I walked by. “Nothing after Philly Pan Stars and Hearts of Steel, that’s it,” was my response. And this was around 8:30 a.m. on Empire Boulevard. He shook his head in disbelief, repeating what I said to himself. With a partially dazed look in his eyes (in denial), he said he was still going and “check and see.” Hopefully, 2023 will be a better year for him, and us all. Maybe then, the majority of bands which generally take to the road for J’Ouvert will be back in full effect. For now, and for those who came out in 2022, we are happy to reminisce in this space with pictures...
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