Earl Rodney shows he’s still a force at 81

Earl Rodney on pan. - Gary Cardinez
Earl Rodney on pan. - Gary Cardinez

MUSICAL arranger extraordinaire Earl Rodney proved that age is just a number at Kafe Blue, Wrightson Road, Port of Spain, in a show entitled Eight-One and Still Going Strong.

A legend in his own right, Rodney surrounded himself with friends and music legends like Brother Valentino (Emrold Phillip) and Relator (Willard Harris) as well as several young musicians to put on a fantastic show on.

The evening started off with guitarist Larry Lee Luck who thrilled the audience with songs like Sans Humanite, Making Whoopee and Malaguena. He was so well received there was an encore, and again he went on with a Brazilian piece. When asked the name of the song, he said it was an original still to be named.

The People’s calypsonian, Brother Valentino, came on stage to join Rodney and the band and started his set with Stay Up Zimbabwe, a song arranged by Rodney back in 1979. He continued with Birds that Fly High before doing Trinidad is Nice.

Relator sings Christmas favourites. - Gary Cardinez

The audience could not believe Brother Valentino did not sing his immortal classic Life is a Stage. They begged him but he had to make way for the next singer.

Relator moved right into Christmas on Sesame Street, he then told the audience of the greatness of his friend, Rodney, and engaged the audience in a chorus of Play One. With guitar in hand Relator continued with Christmas is yours.

Rodney ramajayed on his double seconds while the rest of the musicians kept the music going as Relator sang. He ended his set with Bottle and Spoon to the delight of the audience. Relator left the stage for Rodney to continue as the lead.

His rendition of When the Saints go Marching and Yes Jesus Loves Me solicited loud applause from the audience. His chord structure and precision playing with four pan sticks brought back memories of the late Clive Bradley, as he performed the Mighty Trini’s Sailing.

Brother Valentino performs Stay up Zimbabwe. - Gary Cardinez

After telling the audience about the relationship he had with his mother Beryl, the person who taught him music, Rodney then dedicated Smoke Get in Your Eyes to her.

His next song was Kitchener’s Pan Night and Day which he played by himself. His only remarks after the performance was, “When you hear this music your feet just can’t resist the chip.”

Rodney then went into an Indo-Afro fusion with East Indian music and the pan as he played Doubles Man, a song he wrote for a local movie which never got off the ground.

He was joined by Verunesh Singh on tabla, while he played his triple seconds, along with other members of the band. Once again there was thunderous applause for the performance.

Earl Rodney plays with four sticks. - Gary Cardinez

Rodney then invited Akinola Senon to the stage to play tenor pan on what he called an unofficial test piece for pan, Tico Tico.

He told the audience it was the end of the show but they requested one more. Without saying anything, the celebrated arranger began playing Happy Holiday which he dedicated to each member of the audience and thanked them for coming to support him and his friends.

There was a rush to greet the 81-year-old musician by many of his friends who wanted to take pictures with their musical icon.


"Earl Rodney shows he’s still a force at 81"

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