In preparation for his golden concert, Keino Swamber dug deep into his musical reservoir, not just for songs reflecting his particular vintage, but compositions with a message at his Keino Swamber presents Golden concert.
Chalk up the choices to his media experience as a journalist and news editor at Newsday which may have triggered his social conscience.
His song collection ranged from giving thanks for his 50 years of life, his opening number – Give Thanks for Life, to a particular genre influenced by his memories of listening to his mom’s favourite selections on radio, as she did her chores. This genre of music boasted of people like Mavis John, Stevie Wonder, Anita Baker and others.
Say a Little Prayer for the Children reflected both his love and fear for children he said are in danger as he appealed for their future to be protected.
He spoke of the ugly memories of slavery that led to Emancipation – and a song to ensure that part of history is never repeated.
Whatever the rationale, the choices resonated with his intimate audience which seemed to have a personal connection with him –judging from the raucous and shrill calls, whistles, shared running joke about the lone pannist, Opal Murrell, having a solo lead in every selection, to its prediction of the next “star” to grace the stage, before he announced the artiste.
Swamber found a composition reflective of the many moods he exhibited at his second solo concert on July 30, celebrating his half-century with a year-long fete.
Guest artistes he described as “all stars,” beautifully complemented the tone of the more matured, but yet playful vibes inside the Naparima Bowl, San Fernando, auditorium.
The incredible Brenda Butler, wearing a painted-on golden clip across the right side of her otherwise bald head, specially selected Jill Scott’s Golden to commemorate her friend’s distinct anniversary on earth.
Her golden voice and Swamber’s strong and loud baritone voice, blended seamlessly in the second half for a duet of a Stevie Wonder classic Love's in Need of Love Today.
Moricia Cagan, another one of Swamber’s friends from their karaoke days, she confessed, jazzed up Barrington Levy’s Vice Versa Love much to the delight of the audience.
She had everyone harmonising with her for her two selections, including Whitney Houston’s, Where do Broken Hearts Go.
In response, Swamber followed Cagan’s dynamic performance with an answer to the question.
“They come into my loving arms,” he quipped, ripping into vintage Millie Jackson’s Loving Arms.
“They don’t make then like that anymore,” he said, receiving the audience’s approval.
He wound his magic with Anita Baker’s Rapture, had the audience singing along to the Price Tag lyrics to forget the “money, money and the ch ching, bl bling,” and make the world dance.
Young, but with an old spirit in terms of his musical preference, saxophonist Jassiem Williams, who Swamber said blew his mind at his first concert, was equally impactful this time around.
In accord with Swamber’s view that he was like a category five hurricane, Williams was the only performer to receive an encore from the audience.
Another youth performer was guitarist Jamal Wilkinson who demonstrated his mad skills with a Machel Montano selection along with Swamber.
Wilkinson is the lead guitarist with Order the Band which provided live accompaniment for the concert. Led by Ato K Williams, members include bass guitarist Andy Edwards, drummer Brendon Lessey, pannist Opal Murrell, along with singers Shauna Taylor and Akeita Pierre-Williams who provided back-up vocals.
That he could attract the sensational Ziggy Rankin, born Khori Francis, as a guest artiste says something about the draw of Swamber, the celebrated man of the hour.
This entertainer did not disappoint as he left the stage to get closer to further hype up the audience. The excitement he generated placed them in the right frame of mind for Swamber to close the show with a selection from a calypso icon, who was being celebrated on the same night at Queen's Hall, Meh Lover by Nelson.
Given the long holiday weekend and the many competing events, the audience was not exactly in the numbers range Swamber would have expected, but for sure, those who missed Swamber’s Golden, missed a treat.
In spite of the small numbers, the celebrant was pleased with the outcome and is already planning the third segment.