US rappers Dead Prez captured the crowd's full attention. *Photo by Amanda Dale
US rappers Dead Prez captured the crowd's full attention. *Photo by Amanda Dale

THURSDAY, AUGUST 2: Under the light of a full moon, partygoers enjoyed a magical evening of music at the seventh annual BeachFest.

The Chewstick Foundation pulled out all the stops to stage a fantastic night of entertainment, with an eclectic range of music from hip hop to soca, to soul, RnB and reggae.

There was even poetry, with the young Chewslam poets impressing the crowd with their quick-fire wit and wordplay.

The weather was warm, balmy and dry – perfect for a beach party. The only shower was momentary and came after the end of the party, at 2:30am.

Instead, partygoers were showered with giveaways from the event’s sponsors. These included Blue Halo Bermuda T-shirts and Digicel BlackBerry accessories, towels, whistles and shirts. There were also funky glow-in-the-dark shades and dog tags handed out to revellers from the WKD girls.

As for musical treats, local artists Joy T Barnum, Haz, Kase, Imari, Jelani, Hannah Eggen and Canjelae kept the vibes and energy flowing nicely in between the international artists.

American singer and guitarist Trevor Hall set the mood for the evening with his melodic laidback fusion of reggae rock and acoustic folk.

The pace of the party later geared up a notch with the inventive hip hop of Dead Prez. The US rappers said they were brought to BeachFest by Chewstick to “represent” disadvantaged black ‘ghetto’ youth, and their thought-provoking lyrics certainly captured the crowd’s full attention and appreciation. 

Always ones to mix things up, Chewstick then had the crowd jumping with a selection of soca tunes from DJ D’General.

The final act, Jamaican reggae and dancehall artist Wayne Wonder, performed a brief selection of his upbeat hits. He was warmly welcomed by the crowd as a replacement for the previous headliner Barrington Levy, but unfortunately had his last song cut short by officials, due to the concert over-running its official 2am finish.

There was a marked police presence at the seventh annual BeachFest concert, following the events of last year which saw fighting between groups of youths. Last night’s concert passed without incident.

Today, the Emancipation Celebration continues with music, sports, wacky games and other activities at Horseshoe Bay. The event, which is held to mark Bermuda’s Emancipation Day public holiday, is a free fun day out for all the family.

Last night was the first time Chewstick has staged a ticketed concert at Horseshoe Bay. Admission was $60, with all proceeds going to the Chewstick Foundation charity.

Chewstick founder Gavin Djata Smith said: “It was a great evening. There was a nice vibe, the atmosphere was incredible, we had a great crew, and the talent was outstanding. Unfortunately we couldn’t get the full performance from Wayne but we got everything from everyone else.

“Last night, being incident-free, is a good way to start [today’s Emancipation Celebration] and we’re hoping to finish that way too.

“BeachFest is only going to grow because it’s not just about one specific act but the whole experience. It is about all different types of people and experiences.

“With Chewslam, it was a first for poetry at a concert like this and it was one of the highlights – a lot of people were really captivated by it.”

Trevor Hall said he enjoyed playing his first concert in Bermuda and is already looking forward to coming back.

“Everyone was out to have a good time and showed me a lot of love, which makes the performance a lot better,” he said.

“I was surprised at just how talented the young Chewstick artists were. I am only here in Bermuda for a day but next time I’d like to hang out, for sure.”

Asked about the concept of Chewstick, he said: “It’s amazing. Anything that can get Bermudians into their art and culture and gives youth the opportunity to grow and flourish is a wonderful thing.”