Last day in Barbados: Schools and the Yacht Club.
Today we played at two high schools: the Alleyne School and Harrison College. The Alleyne School is a long way (in Bajan terms) from Bridgetown, so we had to breakfast and leave early to mke it in time for their morning assembly. Karen and I had been to this school before so had an idea what to expect; but for the band this was to be a new experience.
Basically Bajan school audiences are enthusiastic. Very enthusiastic. You might even say wildly so. True to form, it didn’t take long before the screaming and cheering to start. Of course we encouraged the excitable audience in their exuberance. I explained the traditional jazz etiquette of screaming and clapping with wild abandon after each solo. Then Rosie encouraged them to sing along. And if that wasn’t enough, Sophie invited them to get up and dance. Luckily most didn’t, though some did. To the kids delight several of their teachers danced. It was great fun, and a blast for our band who were taken aback by the response, to say the least.
After the show we had morning tea with the principal and some music students, but all too soon it was time to leave.
Next was lunch and ao bit of free time in Bridgetown. We took everybody to Chefette, the local fast food restaurant. Most of their fare is normal run-of-the-mill stuff, but their best dish is the roti (beef & potato, chicken & potato, or spicy potato). It is fast, but quite delicious and highly recommended. Sadly, despite our advice, most of the group opted for the very ordinary fried chicken or burgers. The adventurous few were rewarded with a new and tasty experience.
After some sightseeing and shopping we made the short, and slightly exciting walk up the road to Harrison College. Exciting because the footpath gradually vanished at about the same time as traffic increased. We all made it and the concert was similar to the earlier school show: wild! The school is over 280 years old. Following afternoon tea with the acting Principal and acting Deputy we drove straight to the Barbados Yacht Club (BYC) for the final gig on the Barbados leg of our tour.
The BYC is on a little, private stretch of archetypal white-sand-and-palm-trees beach just out of Bridgetown and is a very lovely spot. Actually, most of the trees aren’t plam trees, but something similarly tropical. The audience lounge about on chairs on the sand or under the awning near the bar. The band set up on yet another cozy gazebo. Luckily this time the weather was a bit better so we didn’t get the same drenching as at the Colony Club, but it did rain and there was much scurrying about to cover this and hastily move that. The audience was a good size and included many people who’d seen previous tour bands. There were also several kids who’d been at Harrison College earlier in the afternoon.
Of course it goes without saying that the band played well. One highlight of this concert was an extended version of Prime Time in which all the horn players took solos. We finished with an encore, Mack The Knife, and headed, tired but happy, back to the hotel. Just one more brief night enduring the appalling karaoke from over the road and we’d be off to the airport.
Next morning was a 4:30 pickup from the hotel. The music in the neighboring bar was still going and the street was quite crowded. Before long we were at the airport waiting to check in. We got through in record time. Barbados airport has improved massively in the years we’ve been visiting. Our plane took off on time, whisking us away, back to the USA and Miami to begin the final leg of the tour.