Saturday, June 26, 2010

Copacabana Fridayz at Bluebeat in Montego Bay featuring DJ Irie Latino...Friday, June 25th, 2010 (click to enlarge/pulse para agrandar)

It was a great night with friends visiting from as far away as Ocho Rios and visitors coming all the way from Kingston. In the past two weeks friends have made the journey from Ocho Rios to Montego Bay to join the Irie Latino party. Thank you guys for coming. I never forget Ocho Rios where Irie Latino got its start and I miss you guys so much. A warm hello to our guests from Chicago last night and of course a big shout out to our regulars who were there as usual to keep it special. To all my Mexican friends I wish you good luck in your World Cup match against Argentina! I'm proud of you for representing our region so well and making it to the second round!

Friday, June 25, 2010

The World Cup, Passion and Belief in Yourself

I think what this World Cup of surprising upsets is showing so far is that it takes passion and belief in yourself to win. You need both and not just one. Who wants victory more? Who has self-confidence? Sure training matters and so does skill. Sure money is important and of course luck has a part to play.

But look at it this way. The effectiveness of training or the effort put out in training is determined by your passion. Discipline does not survive long without enthusiasm unless it is obtained under duress. And when it is obtained under duress it may crumble without a strict enforcer. How enthusiastic you are about your objectives is critical to your commitment and discipline in obtaining them.

Slovakia did not show any fear in their defeat of Italy nor did Switzerland show any fear in their victory against Spain. It came down to belief in themselves. So often in the World Cup you see teams playing badly because they are in awe of their opposition and after the game we comment that they could have played much better than they did. The teams with confidence who believe in themselves put on much better performances.

Take Jamaica, for example, who in 1998 defied all odds and made it to the World Cup. That team was not necessarily the most skillful team we ever had but they played as an efficient team. Why? They were united by passion and enthusiasm and they believed in themselves. Their coach Rene Simoes may not have been the smartest tactician or strategist in the world but he had the ability to help them believe that they could beat anybody and being a Brazilian he was was able to impart that country's passion for football to them. The result was a team that trained hard together, improved their skills along the way, became a cohesive unit and believed they could win. The vital inter-connection between passion and self-belief was clearly evident in that team and their progress to the World Cup stage in France. On their arrival in France they lost some confidence I believe partly because their coach became somewhat frightened of the stage he was now on for the first time and this affected his judgment.

Passion and belief in yourself must constantly be cultivated if you want enduring success in your endeavors. France's internal squabbles during this World Cup affected their enthusiasm and perhaps Italy was not as driven as before because they were now the World Champions. One must always be careful to watch out for those circumstances or thought processes and behaviours that can adversely affect enthusiasm. Over-confidence can give you a false belief in yourself and over-confidence occurs when your striving for success is replaced by the feeling that you no longer need to do so. People who are truly passionate about something believe that there is no cut-off point to improvement. They believe that there is always something better that awaits them and that their learning process never ends. Don't forget this when you become a champion at whatever it is that you do. It is the key to maintaining your passion and a healthy belief in yourself!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Gloves, Angels and Beggars

I was just walking in downtown Montego Bay and saw a man selling gloves and shouting "if anybody waan strangle s'mady in dem sleep and nuh leave no fingerprint see di glove dem here!" (translated from Jamaican patois that means "If anybody wants to strangle anyone in their sleep without leaving fingerprints I've got the gloves for the job right here!") In terms of shock value this could only be beaten by the time a half-naked Montego Bay beggar walked up to me and said an angel appeared to him and told him that I was his father.

You can overhear the strangest things in downtown Montego Bay. So...if you're in Montego Bay and you need those gloves the guy can be found on Market Street. If he's not there just ask my half-naked street begging son where to find him. If my wayward son isn't there then maybe somebody used the gloves to strangle him in his sleep without leaving fingerprints. If the killer figured nobody would know then he clearly didn't take into account the gossipy angel that knows everything. It happens in downtown Mobay.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Irie Latino Moments: The Little Bathing Spot

I took this pic with a Blackberry mobile phone on a somewhat overcast day. It's a little bathing spot right on the North Coast highway in Wiltshire, Trelawny. Nothing special...just another tiny beauty spot of which the North Coast is full.

Tourists and indeed many Jamaicans may know only the popular attractions but believe me the coastal area is laden with hidden beaches and coves, little known waterfalls, bathing pools along rivers, look-out points and gardens. The little community of Wiltshire built those steps on the rocks years ago for people in the area who want to go swimming and now almost every day folks from Wiltshire and beyond park their cars beside the road to enjoy this little piece of crystal clear Caribbean sea.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Feeling At Home In The Twisted Kilt

Very few bars in Montego Bay have that kind of warm, homely feeling that I believe any good bar should have but you’ll find that atmosphere in The Twisted Kilt sports bar on the Hip Strip in Montego Bay. It’s an Irish themed bar in tropical Jamaica which makes it a real standout but what strikes you immediately as you order your first drink or meal is the service.

In the midst of the tourist-driven madness of the Hip Strip where the larger entertainment venues focus on the big and quick tourist dollar, the Kilt (as it is popularly called for short) still takes the time to make regular customers feel special through close personal attention from their staff. It really is refreshing and while a lot of their clientele are tourists this kind of service has made faithful, repeat guests out of locals. I liken the atmosphere at times to the old sitcom Cheers where “everybody knows your name”. I walk in there sometimes and my Rum and Coke arrives before I even open my mouth to say “rum and coke”. Now that’s service...that's family!

Prices are a bit high and perhaps that is where the differences end between the Kilt and other Hip Strip joints. High Hip Strip prices are one of my major pet peeves but here’s the thing as it relates to the Kilt. You really see what you are paying for in terms of the service, the attention of the staff and the quality of the bar and surroundings. The ocean terrace is nothing short of magnificent and when the sun is out it’s a picture perfect day.

As much as you get that special cozy atmosphere from the Kilt it’s also known for some pretty electric, crowd filled nights. It’s the leading sports bar in Montego Bay and big televised sporting events usually pack the house. If you attended the Superbowl Tailgate party at the Kilt earlier this year you probably would have sworn you were in the United States to be witnessing this much excitement over an American football game. Televised boxing matches, soccer games and the Olympics have seen similar throngs.

And of course there is St. Patrick’s Day which is probably their most surreal day because this is Jamaica where St. Patrick’s Day isn’t really celebrated and it’s a bit of a shocker to see everyone in green , chugging beer and enjoying Irish music (well I should say more tolerating than enjoying because it really is a far cry from reggae and dancehall but at least on St. Patrick’s Day the minds are open).

I’m always a great fan of “something different” and that’s why I like The Twisted Kilt. Grab a “wee" lass if you’re a lad or grab a lad if you’re a lass and come on down to the Kilt to have some good conversation, hearty laughs and a pint or two with the other lads and lasses.

Make It A Blackwell Rum Sunday

Jamaican music industry legend and founder of Island Records, Chris Blackwell, who has spent a lifetime promoting Jamaican culture through music recently turned his attention to another aspect of our culture...rum! Thank God for that because my Sundays have never been the same. It started one Sunday evening at a friend’s beautiful townhouse on the seafront in Montego Bay. My friend asked a group of us if we would like to try the new Blackwell Rum, named after the icon himself. Being an Appleton or Bacardi man I wasn’t really interested but I reluctantly gave it a try along with the others.

Our first taste of Blackwell created a great first impression. On opening the bottle the first thing that strikes you is a strong aroma of caramel. In my opinion, the taste is unique, sweet and super-charged rum. Personally, even though I hear it is great for mixed drinks I like to sip it neat like a cognac. It does feel a lot like enjoying a good brandy. No ice, please!

Such was our impression of Blackwell Rum on that evening that it led to the birth of what we now call Blackwell Rum Sundays, a weekly Sunday dinner with friends accompanied by a bottle of Blackwell, or two, depending on how festive the mood. Try it next Sunday. If you are not anywhere on the Jamaican north coast with the moon reflected in the water and a balmy breeze coming from the sea then with this uniquely flavoured Jamaican rum you can at least pretend.

Santiago De Cuba Was The Beginning

The seeds of my Irie Latino concept started in 2000 on the streets of Santiago de Cuba, a city still reminiscent in many ways of the 1950's. I was there on vacation having won a free trip to this Cuban city in a raffle of all things. I remember descending to Santiago looking out the window of my Air Jamaica Express plane and feeling a degree of trepidation. The city looked nothing like what I expected. I thought it looked decidedly unattractive from the air. Where the hell was I going?

But Santiago de Cuba turned out to be anything but unattractive. It was a fascinating place where old Spanish architecture mingled with the modern. Some neighbourhoods I saw were exactly as they looked a few decades ago, my guides explained to me. Cars from the 1950's shared the roads with the latest models from Europe and you were never quite sure what time period you were in. I often felt like I was walking around in an old fifties movie and longed for white shoes, a white suit and white fedora to play the part of the star.

Poverty was everywhere but it could not suppress what I realized was a wealth of human spirit and love for living. My tour guide boasted about their poorest communities like she did of a cathedral or famous monument. She pointed out to me that everybody in the community had easy access to a doctor. Cuban medicine and its innovations are indeed world renowned.

One day I traveled out of town to the Sierra Maestra mountain range and we passed many milestones along the way. Each milestone had the name of three or four people who died in the revolution. Despite my political differences with Cuba I could not help but marvel at this patriotism and appreciation for history that was palpable everywhere. It was a spirit of patriotism that I would continue to feel through Cubans I would meet later in Jamaica no matter what their views of their government. It was a spirit I would continue to feel through the Cuban music at my Latin Nights.

At night the Cuban women in Santiago looked ready for the pages of a fashion magazine despite a lack of the latest and more expensive designer clothes. "We are poor" one girl told me "but we like to dress." And clearly they knew how to dress. At night I saw women looking like Hollywood stars. And women everywhere greeted their male friends with a kiss whether it was on the streets, in the hotel or at a bar. It was definitely my kind of place.

As I walked the streets I would hear Cuban salsa blaring from radios somewhere near the sidewalk adding music to the already rich atmosphere. One night at a bar, a salsa singer took to the stage in a dark suit and polished black shoes. The music and his singing had an electrifying quality that I had never experienced in past live musical performances I had seen. This music that was everywhere mingled with my fascination for this inspiring and exotic country and an interest for Latin music was born.

That's all it was. It did not start with a Bang. There was no seductive salsera that taught me to dance on a beach at night...sorry to disappoint you:) It was just the introduction to this magnificent place that sowed a powerful seed. It would be a couple years before I started actively pursuing the music and promoting Irie Latino and there were other influences that led to that...but that's another story.

But thank you Santiago for opening the door to a whole new world that added a wonderful new dimension to my life.

An Irie Latino Journey

Most of you who are familiar with this blog which started in 2006 will remember it as a "picture blog" posting pics from Irie Latino parties all over Jamaica. Well along came Facebook a couple years ago and I switched to posting pics on Facebook only. So my blog was dormant for a while but I decided to bring it back.

I said when I started Irie Latino that I wanted to bring people together...Jamaicans and all the unique cultures of our Latin American neighbours. What a great few years these have been of all night parties, beautiful music and making wonderful friendships. These events became part of the lifestyle of groups of people who mixed and mingled through music.

Well I have decided to take this wonderful concept of the Irie Latino lifestyle a bit further. Call it a new beginning if you will. I've deleted all the old picture posts to start the journey anew. I'll still be posting pics on this blog but join me as I also track lifestyle and entertainment on the north coast of Jamaica where it all began and follow me as I explore cultures all over the Americas. Live life the Irie Latino and mingle on the Jamaican north coast and take a journey of the mind through the wonderful world of the Americas to explore, to meet and to mingle.