From Schools to Bars — St. John Got the Blues, Thanks to Legendary Rhythm and Blues Cruise

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Zac Harmon rocked Cruz Bay during a concert wrapping up Blues festivities across St. John last week.

From the Guy Benjamin School to the Franklin Powell Park, St. John was full of the Blues on Wednesday, Janaury 26.

Cruz Bay was transformed into a mini Festival as Department of Tourism officials welcomed about 2,000 passengers from the Legendary Rhythm and Blues Cruise ship, when the Eurodam docked off of Cruz Bay on Wednesday morning.

For cruisers who remained in Cruz Bay, Mocko Jumbies danced in the park and the street in front Cruz Bay’s waterfront, which was closed to traffic for the festivities.

Free samples of tropical fruit juices, from tamarind to soursop, were available alongside island treats like black cake and dumb bread for guests to try. Local craftspeople displayed their wares and steel pan and soca music entertained the huge crowd in the park.

“I love it here,” said Ira Green, a Legendary Rhythm and Blues Cruise passenger. “It’s so laid back and everyone is so nice. I love everything about it here.”

 

 

The crowd in Franklin Powell Park got up close with mocko jumbies during a cultural exchange hosted by the Department of Tourism.

Taxis also shuttled cruise ship passengers to Coral Bay where bands played at Skinny Legs, Shipwreck Landing and Island Blues all afternoon. Students at all of the island schools enjoyed concerts as well through the “Blues in the Schools” program, funded through legislation sponsored by Senator Celestino White.

At Julius E. Spruave School, students packed the cafeteria where Terrance Simien and the Zydeco Experience gave a thrilling performance. Several JESS students -— and even principal Mario Francis — got into the fun themselves, joining the Grammy winning band on stage and trying their hands at the frottoir, keeping the zydeco percussion going with spoons.

Students also vied for Mardi Gras beads, thrown into the crowd — with a strict no fighting clause — by Simien. The high energy performance was not devoid of education. Holding a Creole flag, Simien explained what each of the four symbols represented.

The flag consists of a fleur de lis for Creole’s French heritage, the Senegalese and Malian flags for its West African heritage and finally the Tower of Castille, representing the Spanish heritage.

“When everything like that comes together, things only get better,” said Simien.

Julius E. Sprauve School seventh graders joined Terrance Simien and the Zydeco Experience on stage during a concert at the school on January 26 as part of the Blues in the Schools program.

 

Students clapped and sang along with Simien who played the accordion and kept the Mardi Gras beads flowing, while performing hits like “When the Saints Go Marching In,” “Iko Iko,” and “Gonna Take You There,” from the “Princess and the Frog” sound track, on which Simien appeared.

Following the Coral Bay pub crawl and school concerts, the party was back in Frank Powell Park, where Zac Harmon entertained hundreds of people in a finale concert.

Locals and cruise ships passengers alike danced to the rhythms of the Mississippi Blues man, who thrilled the crowd with “Who’s Knockin’” among other hits. There were smiles on everyone’s faces on St. John when the Blues were in town, which should tide fans over until March when the Ninth Annual St. John Blues Festival kicks off.

For more details about the Legendary Rhythm and Blues Cruise visit www.bluescruise.com.