Bunji, Nailah, Skinny thrill Army Fete

The content originally appeared on: News Americas Now

Black Immigrant Daily News

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Bunji Garlin performs his monster hit Hard Fete at the Army Fete early Saturday at the Queen’s Park Savannah, Port of Spain. – Photo by Jordon Briggs

ARMY Fete usually gives an indication of the favourite power soca songs for the season.

During the set of the Asylum Vikings Band on Friday night, Fay Ann Lyons-Alvarez declared that her husband and soca artiste Bunji Garlin (Ian Alvarez) will win the 2023 Road March title with his song Hard Fete. However, other songs seem to be gathering momentum for arguably the most coveted crown of 2023 with Soca Monarch not being held this year.

In Bunji’s Hard Fete he sings, “I not going no small fete let me extend my apologies, only big fete with big flags going overhead like canopy.”

Army Fete is one of the only fetes on the Carnival calendar which still brings an atmosphere like Soca Monarch and Brass Festival in the 1990s with no shortage of flags and rags.

When Bunji was introduced at 3 am the packed crowd at the Queen’s Park Savannah in Port of Spain were anticipating his performance. Bunji did not disappoint as he had the thousands waving, jumping and singing along to Hard Fete.

He was later joined by Fay Ann on stage as the pair delivered a set over 45 minutes long. Both Bunji and Fay Ann have been in the soca industry for over 20 years and they took patrons on a musical journey of their hits through the years.

The couple had their usual chemistry on stage. Bunji told Fay Ann he forgot how long she was in the business because of her youthful look.

Bunji was congratulated by his wife for setting the standard by using fancy “metaphors and “similes” in his freestyle routine. She reminded Bunji that she can hold her own when it comes to getting people off their feet.

Bunji closed the set by singing Hard Fete again with Fay Ann saying she was confident he will cop the Road March crown.

Prior to the Asylum Vikings set the entertainment began before 11 pm with Jadel, Lil Bits, Mical Teja, Olatunji, Benjai and Farmer Nappy among the early acts.

Mical Teja and Olatunji certainly got the crowd moving with their songs Hall of Fame and Engine Room respectively.

Speaking to Newsday following his performance, Olatunji said, “I feel really glad about the season, very thankful, very grateful for this season. I am just happy how everybody has accepted the tune and everybody love the song.”

Mical Teja on stage of Army Fete at Queen’s Park Savannah on Friday night. – Photo by Jordon Briggs

Olatunji was elated to perform at Army Fete again calling it one of the “biggest” fetes for Carnival.

Lyrical continued to keep the audience entertained, before Nailah Blackman and Skinny Fabulous got to the stage at midnight.

If there was any doubt that their song Come Home was not a crowd favourite that was put to bed. The pair had patrons in a frenzy as they sang along to the lyrics to the song. Many believe the song can challenge Hard Fete for the Road March crown and they are certainly on the heels of Bunji.

Patrice Roberts kept the crowd busy with her song Like Yuh Self, a collaboration with her mentor Machel Montano. Montano did not join Roberts on stage for the performance, but the crowd did not seem to mind.

Roberts told Newsday, “(It feels) amazing (to be back in Army)…Like Yuh Self is being received throughout the country and it is amazing to feel the love and to see the people just enjoying the music.”

Roberts said she has been pairing with Montano since 2006 and always enjoy working with the soca legend. Roberts and Montano won the 2006 Road March title with the song Band of the Year.

Iwer George and newcomer Tempa followed and at 1.am am there was a 30-minute break as the DJs took over.

Soldiers patrol the crowd during the Army Fete. – JORDON BRIGGS

Kes The Band continued the live entertainment at 1.50 am. The band performed for 50 minutes singing their hits throughout the years including Savannah Grass and 2023 song Mental Day.

The DJs then took over again playing some old soca hits including songs from Rupee, Alison Hinds and JW and Blaze – winners of the 2010 Road March with Palance.

It made way for Bunji and Fay Ann to close the show which ended at 3.50 am, earlier than previous Army fetes.

A section of the crowd at Army Fete held at the Queen’s Park Savannah, Port of Spain. – Photo by Jordon Briggs

Wazzy, who was one of the hosts for Army, has been one of the promoters of the fete for years.

She said it was difficult not having Army Fete in 2021 and 2022 because of the covid19 pandemic. “It was absolutely heart-breaking. I grieved for TT, I grieved for my people and I grieved for Army Fete.”

Wazzy said Army Fete is the “people’s fete” describing it as the “last of the Mohicans.”

She said it provides an avenue for all soca artistes to shine.

There were no reports of any incidents in what has been dubbed the “safest fete in Carnival.”