Entertainment

All eyes on Oscars

February 24, 2017

With such an unbelievable number of entertainment options in the country this weekend, you couldn't be faulted for forgetting that it's also a big weekend in Hollywood -- the biggest in fact: the 89th annual Academy Awards will be handed out on Sunday.
In some years, there are no real surprises, with the awards falling in line with other award shows or predictions. This year, the potential for shockers and upsets seems greater than at any time in recent memory. Nonetheless, for the fourth year in the row, I will seek to predict the Academy Award winners.
This year was a little bit easier than in years past. Of the nine films nominated, seven of these movies played in The Bahamas, either in wide release in local cinemas -- "Arrival", "Fences", "Hacksaw Ridge", "Hidden Fences", and "La La Land" -- or in limited release at film festivals -- "Moonlight" and "Lion". Only "Hell or High Water" and "Manchester by the Sea" have yet to play here for some unexplained reasons.
When it comes to the acting categories, there are again a few films that weren't nominated for Best Picture that never played here. Thankfully, some of these are already available with "Video on Demand" services or have been released on DVD. To see the others, one has to get creative.
Despite these challenges, I've managed to see all of the movies nominated for Best Picture and all those with acting nominations. I will present my personal favorites or what/who should win in each of the major categories, and also what/who I believe is most likely to win, taking into account the politics of the Academy and the psyche of the Academy voters. And sometimes they actually all align.
We'll start with Best Picture, and then go through this year's easiest to predict categories (Supporting Actress and Lead Actress) to the most unpredictable (Best Supporting Actor, Lead Actor and Best Director).
Once again, I had considered the writing categories. But I'll leave that for now. Suffice it to say, if I had to predict winners, I'd say the race is between "Manchester by the Sea", "Hell or High Water" and "La La Land" for Best Original Screenplay, and for Best Adapted Screenplay, it will come down to a battle between "Moonlight" and "Hidden Figures".
Next week, we'll see just how well I did with my picks! And you can email me your predictions at dwight@nasguard.com.
I've also compiled a list of my picks for the best movies of 2016 and the year's worst movies (there might have been some even worse, but I refused to see them).

Best Picture
Arrival
Fences
Hacksaw Ridge
Hell or High Water
Hidden Figures
La La Land
Lion
Manchester by the Sea
Moonlight

Once again, let me say how very sad it is that "Hell or High Water" and "Manchester by the Sea" -- two of the best movies of the year -- have not been shown in wide release here.
Also disappointing is what has been left off this list. "Nocturnal Animals" should have been nominated in this category.
The other films that did get nominated are all hard to forget. "Lion" is touching and powerful. "Arrival" is a beautiful film that feels let down by a perplexing ending.
"Hidden Figures" is a feel-good and inspiring tale, and harkening back to a time when nothing seemed impossible for the United States of America (USA). At a time when there's so much talk about the country losing its way, and after years of "#OscarsSoWhite" -- politically this could be the film that would make everybody feel like a winner.
But it appears that this category this year comes down to "Moonlight" and "La La Land". The latter is an-often cheesy throwback to the Golden Age of Hollywood, when happy-feely musicals were king. You either really love "La La Land" or you don't. But the film is about Hollywood, and there are few things Hollywood loves more than celebrating itself.
On the other hand, "Moonlight" is so controversial on so many levels, touching on so many often-taboo subjects -- homosexuality, bullying, drug abuse. Like "Brokeback Mountain" it will likely never play in wide-release in theaters in The Bahamas.
But beyond the subject matter, it is a subtly stylish work-of-art, with cinematography, soundtrack, and performances that standout among this group.
I predict we are looking at a split here, and that these two films will split Best Director and Best Picture, i.e., if "La La Land wins Best Director, look for "Moonlight" to win Best picture and vice versa.
Predicting which one will get which is the tricky part. I wouldn't be shocked at all if "La La Land" were to win, but I'll go out on a limb and predict the Academy will award Damien Chazelle for his bold directing on "La La Land" which would mean "Moonlight" could eke out a win as Best Picture.

My personal favorite: "Moonlight"
What will win: "Moonlight"

Actress in a Supporting Role
Viola Davis (Fences)
Naomie Harris (Moonlight)
Nicole Kidman (Lion)
Octavia Spencer (Hidden Figures)
Michelle Williams (Manchester by the Sea)

No need for any long discussion here. This has been a foregone conclusion from the day "Fences" premiered in theaters: Viola Davis will finally win an Oscar on Sunday.
Never mind that this role was strong enough to be in the Leading Actress category, Davis delivers one of the best performances of the year in any category.
In any other year, any one of these actresses -- particularly Williams and Spencer -- would have likely won. But with Spencer and Kidman already being Oscar winners, in addition to two previous nominations and a stellar body of work for Davis, it would be the biggest shocker in decades if the "How to Get Away with Murder" star doesn't win -- especially seeing as she's won every other single major award in this category.

My personal favorite: Viola Davis ("Fences")
Who will win: Viola Davis ("Fences")

Actress in a Leading Role
Isabelle Huppert (Elle)
Ruth Negga (Loving)
Natalie Portman (Jackie)
Emma Stone (La La Land)
Meryl Streep (Florence Foster Jenkins)

This is the year's most bizarre category. Only one performance here (Emma Stone's) is associated with a film up for Best Picture. Contrast that to the Leading Actor group, with four of these actors headlining four of the nine films in the Best Picture category.
What does that say about the roles women are playing in Hollywood? That's perhaps a debate for another day.
But in any event, Amy Adams' absence from this list is surprising. Some would say her performance in "Arrival" was worthy of a nomination. But I believe her role in the "Nocturnal Animals" was more interesting and nuanced.
I'm actually puzzled by Negga's inclusion. "Loving," about an interracial couple in 1958 threatened with imprisonment and banishment in Virginia, is an important and well-meaning story, but hopelessly dull. That unfortunately also describes the performance.
Streep is always amazing. And with more Oscar nominations than any actor ever, I fully expect this award will be named in her honor soon.
However, the spotlight will be on the three other actresses. Stone's exuberance as she sings and dances through the least onerous role here could help her standout among voters.
More likely, though, the two most complex performances will be getting the attention. Huppert is quite a sight to behold in a wild role in the wacky French film "Elle". Incredibly entertaining, the subject matter is shocking and disturbing, with depictions of rape that would make most people extremely uncomfortable. It is a film so outrageous that it makes "Fifty Shades of Grey" seem like it could play at a children's matinee!!
Dealing with rape, infidelity, stalkers, May-December relationships, workplace drama, daughter-mother drama, mother-son drama, baby mama drama, the script throws every possible scenario at Huppert except alien-abduction. Although, you may wonder if her character is indeed an alien from another planet the way she handles some of these situations. You're likely to enjoy the movie and Huppert's performance, but you may hate yourself for it. Will it be too much for Academy voters?
Instead, I suspect Portman is on her way to a second Oscar win for the also flawed film, "Jackie". Portman portrays an overwhelmed and unhinged U.S. First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy. The movie hops back and forth between at least three or four periods in time -- just before and just after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
The film is dreary and bleak, and Portman plays Jackie as the most tortured woman in the history of the world. I can't recall seeing so much continuous pain in one movie. Portman is in nearly every single scene, and turns the emotional vise tighter and tighter with each successive frame. If you can actually make it through to the end, you may agree that Portman deserves an award for at least something.
My personal favorite: Isabelle Huppert ("Elle")
Who will win: Natalie Portman ("Jackie")

Best Actor in a Leading Role
Casey Affleck (Casey Affleck)
Andrew Garfield (Hacksaw Ridge)
Ryan Gosling (La La Land)
Viggo Mortensen (Captain Fantastic)
Denzel Washington (Fences)

This one is tough. None of these would be a bad choice, and there are good reasons for any one of them to win.
Gosling's singing and learning to play like a jazz pianist deserves an award for at least the effort; I was also blown away by Mortensen ... and especially Garfield, both of whom delivered career-defining/redefining performances.
But the momentum has been behind Casey Affleck, though Washington scored an upset at the Screen Actors Guild Awards. I do believe "Fences" is one of Washington's best performances. Yes, the movie is a little too much like a stage play, and people don't talk like this in real life, but Washington dominates the screen.
Affleck, however, has a more multifaceted role, as he is essentially playing two versions of his character -- a happy man in flashbacks, and a man coping with a horrible tragedy. The skillfully written and produced "Manchester by the Sea" allows Affleck to waft between intense drama and lighter moments. It is an amazingly subdued yet intense contrast to Washington's bombastic performance.
My personal favorite: Casey Affleck ("Manchester by the Sea")
Who will win: Casey Affleck ("Manchester by the Sea")

Best Actor in a Supporting Role
Mahershala Ali (Moonlight)
Jeff Bridges (Hell or High Water)
Lucas Hedges (Manchester by the Sea)
Dev Patel (Lion)
Michael Shannon (Nocturnal Animals)

What an exciting category! This one could go anyway.
Least likely to win is Patel, especially as his young co-star Sunny Pawar, who was snubbed, delivers the most memorable performance in "Lion".
Ali has been winning awards left right and center. I've seen "Moonlight" twice, and the second time around reveals even greater complexities about this role and his performance.
But if there were any category that was likely to see an upset, it would be this one.
Shannon is playing the type of role that last year helped Mark Rylance in "Bridge of Spies" come out of nowhere to win in this same category last year.
Shannon's role as a detective in Texas is very similar to the sheriff in Texas played by Jeff Bridges, who steals every single scene in "Hell or High Water". Just listening to his lines in an audio book would make for one entertaining drive to work each day.
The greatest scene-stealer of all, however, is young Lucas Hedges in "Manchester by the Sea". Bridges and Hedges are my two favorite performances in this category. I can't pick a winner between those two.
Nevertheless, the smart money would be on Ali. But it really could go any way.
My personal favorite: [tie] Jeff Bridges ("Hell or High Water") and Lucas Hedges ("Manchester by the Sea")
Who will win: Mahershala Ali ("Moonlight")

Directing
Denis Villeneuve (Arrival)
Mel Gibson (Hacksaw Ridge)
Damien Chazelle (La La Land)
Kenneth Lonergan (Manchester by the Sea)
Barry Jenkins (Moonlight)

This one is the toughest to predict.
I'm very pleased to see Mel Gibson here. "Hacksaw Ridge" is one of the most violent movies of the year. But it is unmistakably a work of art. Just shy of being a horror movie, with intestines and brains splattering everywhere, war films have arguably never been so beautifully choreographed.
Ultimately, the film may be too gross for the Academy, and Hollywood may still not be ready to heap praise on the controversial Gibson.
So, as stated earlier, this one comes down to the same two films duking it out for Best Picture.
I predict whichever film wins Best Director -- the other will win Best Picture. Thus, if Damien Chazelle wins Best Director for his ambitious "La La Land" -- look for "Moonlight" to win best picture.
However, voters could decide to make history with the first-ever win for a black director for Barry Jenkins for "Moonlight". That would almost erase memories of #OscarsSoWhite, and would dominate news media discussions for days. Should that be the case, look for "La La Land" to win overall.
Chazelle may have an edge here. But it will be very interesting!
My personal favorite: Barry Jenkins ("Moonlight")
Who will win: Damien Chazelle ("La La Land")

14 best movies of 2016:
o "Moonlight"
o "Manchester by the Sea"
o "Hell or High Water"
o "Nocturnal Animals"
o "Hidden Figures"
o "Hacksaw Ridge"
o "Fences"
o "Deadpool"
o "The Jungle Book"
o "The Nice Guys"
o "10 Cloverfield Lane"
o "Zootopia"
o "Sully"
o "Arrival"

The worst movies I saw in 2016:
o "Independence Day: Resurgence"
o "The Boss"
o "Ride Along 2"
o "Money Monster"
There were probably many just as bad and perhaps even worse; I just refused to watch those!

o Dwight Strachan is the host/producer of " Morning Blend" on Guardian Radio. He is a television producer and writer, and an avid TV history and film buff. Email dwight@nasguard.com and follow him on twitter @morningblend969.

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The Nassau Guardian's Health and Financial Fair on tap for the weekend

February 24, 2017

The Nassau Guardian's Health and Financial Fair has become a staple on the calendar during the month of love, and once again we're inviting you to take time out to love yourself and take a look at your health and finances, ensuring they are healthy.
The fair will bring together vendors across the health and financial spectrum under one roof, where you can have all your questions answered -- whether it's related to your physical or financial health.
It takes place Saturday, February 25 at The Mall at Marathon (on the western side of the Outback Restaurant) between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m.
And it's just what the doctor ordered in an effort to help people restore some semblance of balance. There will be health and financial information, aerobic demonstrations, health screenings, healthy food sampling and a blood drive.
With health news and advice always changing, medical professionals are placing an even greater emphasis on health and wellness by encouraging people to take charge of their bodies and get themselves on the path to wellness. They are urging people to strive to live their lives fully, with vitality and meaning. And in tough economic times, members of the financial sector encourage members of the public to take control of their finances.
Through its annual Health and Financial Fair, The Nassau Guardian does its part to show people that wellness is optimal health and vitality -- encompassing physical, emotional, intellectual, spiritual, interpersonal, social and environmental well-being.
The Nassau Guardian also does its part to show that financial wellness is just as important, and hopes to encourage people to have a greater awareness about their own health and wellness in all aspects.
On the entertainment side of things, face painting by Selina the Artiste will be available for the young and the young-at-heart; giveaways throughout the day; a performance by the Bahamas All Star Band; and a Junkanoo rushout by the Saxons.
The health and financial fair is co-sponsored by Star 106.5 FM, Guardian Radio, 96.9 FM, Hot 91.7 FM, PrintMasters and The Mall at Marathon.
Companies participating in this year's health fair include Colina Insurance, CFAL, The Walk-In Medical Clinic (free blood pressure/glucose screenings), Bahamas Retina and Eye Care Services, Bahamas Wholesale Agencies, Nassau Agencies, Thompson Trading Co., New Providence Life Insurance Company, Family Guardian, Bahamas Technical and Vocational Institute (BTVI), New Life Natural Vegetation Cell Food (free healthy food sampling), Sandilands Rehabilitation Center, Cyber Technology, Club One, National Health Insurance, Mr. Massage, Weight Watchers, All Bahama Island Distributors, Star 106.5FM and Printmasters.

THE NASSAU GUARDIAN HEALTH & FINANCIAL FAIR VENDORS
Colina
CFAL
Bahamas Retina & Eye Co.
Nassau Agencies
Bahamas Cooperative League Insurance Ltd.
New Providence Life Insurance Company
Thompson Trading Co.
Family Guardian
BTVI
New Life Natural Vegetation (free healthy food sampling)
Sandilands Rehabilitation Center
Cyber Technology
National Health Insurance
Mr. Massage (massages)
Medical Air
The Walk-In Medical Clinic (free blood pressure/glucose screenings)
Sister Sister Cancer (Breast) Cancer Support Group
LGM Maritime Academy
Baptist Health Hospital
Saxons Superstars blood drive in conjunction with PMH and rushout
Aerobic demonstrations -- Club One
Dance routine demonstrations -- Yodephy
Bahamas All Star Band performance
Selina the Artiste (free face painting)

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All roads lead to Festival RumBahamas

February 24, 2017

When they say there's something for everyone, Festival RumBahamas organizers mean that everyone will find something that piques their interest whether it's rum, food, culture, or an artisan product, as the list of vendors to be showcased at the three-day weekend affair runs the gamut from Events by Alexandra and Savory Art, to Burns House and Mount Gay, to Pineapple Bay Swimwear and a live art wall.
It's known as Festival RumBahamas, but truth be told, there's always something for everybody -- even non-rum drinkers. The fourth version of this popular festival which kicks off today through Sunday at the historic Fort Charlotte, once again offers up different atmospheres and experiences.
Rum tastings, rum competitions, rum-in-food demonstrations and pairings, cultural and historical presentations, live Bahamian music, live entertainment, food booths, product booths, and more are the order of the day.
"Each year we try to have different atmospheres and experiences offered up. We're always trying to reimagine the adventure and history of our culture through the eyes of rum, and the fort is such a tremendous and inspiring venue for that to happen on. We'll have street parties, so if you want to feel down and dirty and get your sweat on with our live music bands like Visage, you can do so. We have the romance and the swashbuckling of the pirate era, we have our sugarcane pavilions where you can smoke a Cuban cigar and enjoy silver tray service," said Catherine Chisnall-Mitchell, Festival RumBahamas' public relations officer.
At the festival you can quench your thirst for distinctive and exotic rums, satiate your hunger for creative comfort foods and enjoy the rhythms of what festival organizers term "the new Caribbean", because Festival RumBahamas is where you satisfy your appetite for adventure and your adventurous appetite. It's where you are entertained, enlightened and energized. You get to explore your relationship with the intriguing spirit and it's connection to Bahamian heritage, in a fun and interactive experience.
"We want it to be something people can really sink their teeth into," said Chisnall-Mitchell.
The festival is broken down into avenues so that people can know exactly what experiences are to be had where -- The Sugarcane Kitchen, Sugarcane (French West Indies and Latin West Indies), Pirates Alley, Street Party, Jamaican Village, Top Shelf Presentation Lounge, Top Shelf Sample Booths & Bar and Street Performers.
The Sugarcane Kitchen will feature presentations from Chef Ron Johnson and Taste of the Caribbean, gold medal-winning bartender Marv Cunningham, and a mojito demonstration by the Cuban Embassy.
The French West Indian avenue is where you will find performances from Adrian D'Aguilar Jazz Band, ring play with Funky D, Ira Storr & The Spank Band, Stileet, Puzzle and D-Mac.
The Latin West Indies will showcase the sounds of Cuba, Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico with salsa dancers.
In the Pirates Alley, Metellus "The Obeah Man" and deejay music by the Mighty Pencil are to be had.
At the welcome stage you can take in Frankie Victory One Man Band, limbo dancers and fire dancers.
Old School Reggae, food and rum will be the order of the day in the Jamaican Village.
Presentations by Pericles Maillis on prohibition in The Bahamas, the story of piracy in The Bahamas and Catch Ya Sef Movie night with Pirates of the Caribbean, happen in the Top Shelf (Presentation Lounge)
Emanji Circus Street Performers and flamethrowers, along with pirates and folklore characters, come down off the stage and take to the street for festival patrons.
With so much more on the three-day schedule, Chisnall-Mitchell said there is never a lull in the excitement that is Festival RumBahamas.
The food and rum she said will take the excitement level up a notch.
"We always try to elevate the menu so that it's not just conch fritters under a white tent in a parking lot. I have previewed Alexandra's menu, and she has things like cracked sheep tongue fries with white rum-mint pepper jelly sauce. Where else are you going to try it? Even if you try it and say I have to wash this down with rum, it's something that's different ... something that's exciting," said Chisnall-Mitchell.
Case in point: festival founder Alexandra Maillis-Lynch's menu will feature cracked sheep tongue fries with white rum-mint-pepper jelly sauce; Guinness, rum, molasses and goat pepper glazed beef brisket sliders; codfish cakes on spicy cheese grits with Solomon Gundy mayo; crunchy snapper fingers in waffle cones with spicy tamarind-tomato vinaigrette and fresh salad greens; octopus and lobster ceviche on fresh salad greens in mini taco shells; crispy fried Coca-Cola rib nibs on tropical Asian slaw with sesame miso sugarcane dressing; sugarcane salsa chicken and caramelized plantain spring rolls with sugarcane, garlic, chili and white rum nuoc cham; and Trinidadian chickpeas doubles with sugarcane-mint-chili chutney.
"Alexandra and all our vendors put on a show," she said. "We aim to show what's best and brightest about us."
As in all previous Festival RumBahamas events, The Dirty Mule, the festival's signature cocktail, will be front and center at the welcome bar. As Chisnall-Mitchell says, "It will give you a kick and send you home."
But, she says, they're always working to come up with new cocktails to put a smile on peoples' faces and rhythm in their feet.
"There will be a lot of fun concoctions out here ready to get your cheeks warm and your feet moving," she said.
Festival RumBahamas gates open at 11 a.m. daily and close when the last person decides to head home. Admission is $25 daily or $60 for a three-day pass (advance purchase only). Tickets can be purchased at RumBahamas, Elizabeth Avenue headquarters and Fort Charlotte, 1ERCRU, Bristol Cellars, Gladstone Road; Omni Financial, Frederick Street, Mall at Marathon and Carmichael Road;Burns House, JFK, Caves Village, Cable Beach and Harbour Bay; Eye Candy Makeup Store, Harbour Bay; My Favourite Things, Cable Beach; Smuggler's Downtown Nassau; and Bristol, Blake Road and East Bay.
The Festival RumBahamas experience
Where: Fort Charlotte
When: February 24-26
Admission: $25 (VAT inclusive) per person per day or $60 for three day package (advance purchase only)
Box offices: RumBahamas, Elizabeth Avenue headquarters and Fort Charlotte, 1ERCRU, Bristol Cellars, Gladstone Road; Omni Financial, Frederick Street, Mall at Marathon and Carmichael Road;Burns House, JFK, Caves Village, Cable Beach and Harbour Bay; Eye Candy Makeup Store, Harbour Bay; My Favourite Things, Cable Beach; Smuggler's Downtown Nassau; and Bristol, Blake Road and East Bay.

Festival RumBahamas Vendors
Healthy Edible Treats
Let's Dessert It Up
Anytime Cakes
Cat Island Gal
G&G Treats
Dino's Conch Salad
Divine Flavour
242 SkyJuice
RumBahamas "After-Dinner"
Drinks By Herby
RumBahamas Conch, Rum & Stuff
Blessed Hands
Island FM
RB Rum Store
Havana Club
RB Merchandise
Havana Tur
Ron Barcelo
The Cigar Hut
Cuban Embassy
Island Cane Zacappa
Bacardi
It Is What It Is
Abaco Neem
Creative Designs by Mimeux
Pow and Guava Duff
Eye Candy
RumBahamas Drumettes
RumBahamas Fun Stuff
Heavenly Manner
Cuda Bay
OJ's Tasty Treats
Biitsco Co-op
RumBahamas Home cooking
Philipino Tastes & Rum
Favour
Gigi Jamaican
The Sugarcane Kitchen
Burns House
Mount Gay
Original Sailor Jerry Rum
Ron Ricardo
Appleton
Mixologist Marv Cunningham
Margaritaville
Cassava Grille
Lil Laura's Fruit Smoothie
Savory Arts
Coke Deck
Live Art Wall
Bellyful Jerk
Juniors Jerk Pit
Jamaican Bahamian Connection
Finger Lickin Snack Corner
Events by Alexandra
Top Shelf
Hemingway
Street Party Movie Tent
Albany Lounge
Presentation Lounge
MOT hosting area
Pirates Beer
Rum Bahamas Merchandise
Afrohead
Plantation
Seasonal Sunshine
Corn Diggity Dogs
Yummy Sky Juice
Puffy Cotton Candy
Premium Puff Cigars
Limeade
Dion Lewis
Fish & Chips
King's Delight
VMF Catering
Welcome Bar
Pirates Bar
Home Booth/first aid
Chelltunez
Pineapple Bay Swimwear
Star Dates
The Sweet Life 242
Hennergy Bahamas
Allia Dean
Treasure Trove
AMMC
Cultural Booth
Ministry of Culture

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Let the mas begin -- headed to Trinidad for Carnival

February 24, 2017

After today some people will be noticeably missing from gyms across the country for approximately one week. No need to worry though, they've only boarded a plane and flown away to one of the happiest events in the world -- Trinidad Carnival.
It's that time of the year again, when Bahamians who love the bacchanal and revelry of Carnival prep their bodies, ingest new Soca, and hone the mental endurance needed to party for five straight days -- or more.
Since the inception of Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival, more and more Bahamians are catching the fever. And if Soca and winin' withdrawal is a sickness, Trinidad Carnival is the antidote.
A special treat this year for the group that religiously plays mas with the band, Yuma, will be to see The Bahamas' own soca queen Khiara Sherman -- a former Miss Bahamas -- don a lead costume for the band, as we follow her through the streets of Port-of-Spain, Trinidad.
Khiara carried out her final live performance of the Carnival season last night in Trinidad, making us countrymen proud, and alerting other Caribbean countries to the talent coming out of The Bahamas.
While there may be a large contingent of Bahamians playing mas with Yuma, and loving every minute of Khiara, Bahamians will be represented in many major bands on Carnival Monday and Tuesday. Bliss, Tribe, Papparazzi, Island People and Fantasy, et al., will all be chock-full of Bahamians. We love this Carnival thing.
But it will be a real to treat for Bahamians playing Yuma this year to have Khiara leading the band, along with, as we've heard, a former Miss Jamaica.
Khiara has positioned herself over the past several years to become a big name on the Caribbean scene, known for her eclectic Caribbean music and beautiful voice.
While the lucky few are in Trinidad "jammin' still" (inside joke for 2017 soca lovers), those eagerly awaiting Bahamas Carnival 2017 will undoubtedly be continuing to destroy the gym this weekend and next week. It is okay to shed a tear or two amongst the beads of sweat, and pump even harder to expel the jealousy, knowing that your friends are at the greatest show on earth. Just remember that on May 6 they will be there with you on the streets of New Providence continuing the bacchanal.
Bahamas Carnival is on!
According to Minister of Youth Sports and Culture Dr. Daniel Johnson, and Chairman of the Bahamas National Festival Commission Paul Major.
And the Bahamas Carnival Bands are launching their costumes in full force now. The costumes coming out of the local mas camps are fit for the roads of Port-of-Spain.
Though Bahamas Carnival will be scaled down in terms of the government's investment this year, Carnival can be, with the vibes from the Bahamas Carnival Bands, better than the past two years.
The soca vibes for 2017 are already on fire. Machel Montano is facing stiff competition for king of the road this year, and some amazing artists are popping onto the scene. It is yet to be seen what could come out of The Bahamas in terms of music. But two years of the Music Masters competition brought us some fire tracks from some talented Bahamians.
Antoine "Megaton" Thompson recently dropped a track called "Soca Insurance" which has been hitting the airwaves. It exudes the vibes and sounds of Carnival and the levity that great soca lyrics often have. We like it! We want more!

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Smile, you're alive!

February 24, 2017

For years now when I come across anyone with a miserable look on their face I usually say to them something like this, "Why do you look so sad? Why don't you smile? You look so much better when you smile." Yes indeed, people generally like to interact with positive, upbeat, happy people, and positive, upbeat, happy people are usually smiling most of the time.
Now I must be honest with you, there are a whole lot of people whose nature unfortunately is very negative, so in all probability, whenever you ask one of these totally miserably negative people to smile, they'll say something like this, "Smile -- for what? What do I have to smile about?" Well my friend, if you just stop to think about it for a moment or two, I'm sure you have a whole lot to be extremely grateful for. But the number one reason to smile, from my perspective is that you're alive and well.
That's right you're alive, which when you come to think about it, is indeed a whole lot better than the alternative, to put it mildly. Here's a well-known fact: It takes more muscles in your face and neck to frown and look miserable than it does to smile and look pleasant. And don't forget, if you wish to turn people on as opposed to turning them off, there's no doubt about it, you need to smile a whole lot more.
I'm sure many will remember the long-running T.V. series "Candid Camera" where the host used to say, "Smile -- you're on candid camera." Well my friend, you're on candid camera, so to speak, each and every day in real life, and if you wish to turn a whole lot of people on rather than off, you definitely need to smile a whole lot more.

o Think about it!
Visit my website at: www.dpaulreilly.com.
Listen to "Time to Think" the radio program on STAR 106.5 FM at 8:55 a.m. & 6:20 p.m.

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Good Riddance!

February 23, 2017

Did the Cabinet of the Bahamas happen to sit under a bunch of coconut trees and were consequently hit on their heads by Andros-sized coconuts? Maybe that would explain why the Minister of Tourism...

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2nd Annual Grand Bahama Island Air Show to be held May 19 20, 2017 at Taino Beach
2nd Annual Grand Bahama Island Air Show to be held May 19 & 20, 2017 at Taino Beach

February 22, 2017

Residents and vacationers to Grand Bahama can now mark their calendar for the exciting 2ND Annual Grand Bahama Air Show, taking place, May 19 and 20, 2017 at Taino Beach in Freeport, Grand Bahama...

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Heineken Escape Recap
Heineken Escape Recap

February 21, 2017

Heineken, the world’s most international premium beer, recently kicked off the first event in its Heineken Escape series of unforgettable party experiences. It is the aim of the Heineken...

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Celebrating rum, food and culture

February 17, 2017

It's known as Festival RumBahamas, but truth be told, there's always something for everybody -- even non-rum drinkers -- and the fourth version of this popular festival will once again offer up different atmospheres and experiences. Rum tastings, rum competitions, rum-in-food demonstrations and pairings, cultural and historical presentations, live Bahamian music, live entertainment, food booths, product booths and more are the order of the day.
"Each year we try to have different atmospheres and experiences offered up. We're always trying to reimagine the adventure and history of our culture through the eyes of rum and the fort is such a tremendous and inspiring venue for that to happen on. We'll have street parties, so if you want to feel down and dirty and get your sweat on with our live music bands like Visage, you can do so. We have the romance and the swashbuckling of the pirate era, we have our sugarcane pavilions where you can smoke a Cuban cigar and enjoy silver tray service," said Catherine Chisnall-Mitchell, Festival RumBahamas' public relations officer.
The 4th Annual Festival RumBahamas will be held February 24-26 at the gorgeous and historic Fort Charlotte. It's there that you can quench your thirst for distinctive and exotic rums, satiate your hunger for creative comfort foods and enjoy the rhythms of what festival organizers term "the new Caribbean".
Festival RumBahamas is where you satisfy your appetite for adventure and your adventurous appetite. It's where you are entertained, enlightened and energized.
At the festival, you get to explore your relationship with the intriguing spirit, and it's connection to Bahamian heritage, in a fun and interactive experience.
The three-day festival showcases culinary and cocktail competitions, features Bahamian artists and puts on display the best of The Bahamas. The festival celebrates and showcases the rum, food, culture and history of The Bahamas and the Caribbean.
"Because it's a multi-day festival, we want people to go deep," said Chisnall-Mitchell. "We want it to be something they can really sink their teeth into, and have the entertainment available, but also have totally different experiences available for each and every day, and different entertainment lineups. A multi-stage of entertainers means jazz lovers can chill out to the cool sounds, or those people wanting it more native can listen to the exhilarating Bahamian beats."
Chef Ron Johnson, manager of The Bahamas' gold medal winning Taste of the Caribbean team will once again be ensconced in the sugar cane kitchen. Last year his guava donuts were the order of the day. This year he places his focus on rum and Coke pairing.
"If you want to have a tasty experience with what you can do with rum and Coke, Chef Ron will be doing demonstrations to please your heart, your spirit and your belly," said Chisnall-Mitchell.
"We always try to elevate the menu so that it's not just conch fritters under a white tent in a parking lot. I have previewed Alexandra's menu, and she has things like cracked sheep tongue fries with white rum-mint pepper jelly sauce. Where else are you going to try it? Even if you try it and say I have to wash this down with rum, it's something that's different ... something that's exciting," said Chisnall-Mitchell.
Case in point -- festival founder Alexandra Maillis-Lynch's menu will feature cracked sheep tongue fries with white rum-mint-pepper jelly sauce; Guinness, rum, molasses and goat pepper glazed beef brisket sliders; codfish cakes on spicy cheese grits with Solomon Gundy mayo; crunchy snapper fingers in waffle cones with spicy tamarind-tomato vinaigrette and fresh salad greens; octopus and lobster ceviche on fresh salad greens in mini taco shells; crispy fried Coca Cola rib nibs on tropical Asian slaw with sesame miso sugarcane dressing; sugarcane salsa chicken and caramelized plantains spring rolls with sugarcane, garlic, chili and white rum nuoc cham; and Trinidadian chickpeas doubles with sugarcane-mint-chili chutney.
"Alexandra and all our vendors put on a show. We really try to work with people, and not just say pay your money and show up, but what can we do to elevate your product? How can we set the bar higher for ourselves within this setting, so we can kind of explore what we're capable of as far as local craftsman and artisans etc.? We have such a great local product that has so much room for growth and that just truly excites me and just drives us every year."
Chisnall-Mitchell says the venue -- the fort itself -- is an attraction, but they also have fun things happening throughout the day with cutthroat buccaneers coming through. This year their mermaid, Pirate Pearl, will be joined by a band of dirty dozen pirates who will roam the fort, along with circus acts. The PR officer said the acts come off the stage and go out into the streets. Performances by DJ Mighty Pencil, Tyrone Thurston, Frankie Victory, Action Jackson and Emanji Circus are on the cards.
In only its fourth year, Festival RumBahamas aims to step up and meet the increasing challenges in the tourism world, and show that it's always better in The Bahamas by being an event for both locals and visitors.
"We aim to show what's best and brightest about us," said Chisnall-Mitchell.
"We're creative as a people. We have ingenuity. We have depth and we're willing to fight back and show that The Bahamas is always a foremost destination. As always, we're doing ongoing training with our micro-businesses and our vendors, because we really want to show how we can make these grassroots true Bahamian businesses thrive in these festival settings so we can continue to create destination hallmark events in The Bahamas that hopefully can grow beyond this single occasion. In this case we've chosen to see history through the eyes of rum as 80 percent of the world's rum comes from the Caribbean. And of course the production of sugar and its ties with slavery and bootlegging and rum-running all go to our relationship with rum, but have other things that can be borne from this and use this festival format to truly reimagine the creative palate of The Bahamas."
As in all previous Festival RumBahamas events, The Dirty Mule, their signature cocktail, will be front and center at the welcome bar. As Chisnall-Mitchell says, "It will give you a kick and send you home."
But she says they're always working to come up with new cocktails to put a smile on people's face and rhythm in their feet.
"There will be a lot of fun concoctions out here ready to get your cheeks warm and your feet moving," she said.
Festival RumBahamas gates open at 11 a.m. daily and close when the last person decides to head home. Admission is $25 daily or $60 for a three-day pass (advance purchase only). Tickets can be purchased at RumBahamas, Elizabeth Avenue headquarters and Fort Charlotte, 1ERCRU, Bristol Cellars, Gladstone Road; Omni Financial, Frederick Street, Mall at Marathon and Carmichael Road;Burns House, JFK, Caves Village, Cable Beach and Harbour Bay; Eye Candy Makeup Store, Harbour Bay; My Favourite Things, Cable Beach; Smuggler's Downtown Nassau; and Bristol, Blake Road and East Bay.

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Masqueraders stuns with its 'Seas the Day' costume launch

February 17, 2017

The 2017 Carnival season is already shaping up to be one of the most amazing in the past three years. With just over one week before Trinidad comes alive for its annual Carnival, Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival bands are finally jumpstarting their mas camps in preparation for May 6, and Bahamas Masqueraders came out in grand style last Friday, launching its theme "Seas the Day" and showcasing its costumes in Mission Catwalk style.
And one of the band's costume designers, David Rolle, was the Mission Catwalk All-Star winner in 2015. So it did not come as a surprise that Masqueraders' costumes were absolutely stunning when they hit the runway to "Buss Head" by Machel Montano and Bunji Garlin, one of the year's hottest Soca songs and one of the most anticipated collaborations in years.
The song was apropos given that Masqueraders has been one of the bands that has been "fraid nobody" when they hit the road with costumes and trucks reminiscent of Trinidad bands.
This year's theme "Seas the Day" came with some delightful costume surprises with section names such as Pacific Passion, Splash Obsession, Current Envy, Sheer Mist, and Artic Allure, giving designers an amazing freedom to bring those ideas to life.
Most of the sections came with amazing headdresses, accented with feathers that added almost two feet to the already lanky models. The colors chosen by the designers for each section were befitting of their names -- Pacific Passion with royal blues and purples; Splash Obsession with pinks and yellows; Current Envy with lime greens and yellows, Sheer Mist with turquoise and green and Artic Allure with bright oranges, yellows and pinks.
Each costume was expertly bejeweled -- in fact, jewels were the order of the day for Masqueraders.
Even more impressive were the options for the men, who often seem to be an afterthought in the carnival design camp. But Masqueraders, in fine fashion, boasted costumes even men will love, with tall headdresses and waist pieces that don't obstruct the action of "pelting waist".
Masqueraders even brought out the big guns of modeling, using former beauty queens Vandia Sands and Celeste Marshall to properly showcase their amazing designs.
Other costume designers who hit the stage for the finale with their masterpieces were Jamaal Clarke, Ashad Bowe, Carlos Bain, Apryl Burrows, Anthony Knowles, Anton Dean, Krista Dean, Rotavio Gaitor, and John Williams.
And even the attendees were a star-studded mix of the who's who of New Providence. Wife of the Prime Minister Bernadette Christie was in attendance along with Sir Franklyn and Lady Sharon Wilson, Minister of Sports and Culture Dr. Daniel Johnson, and Attorney General Allyson Maynard-Gibson.
"It was just so wonderful. I'm so proud of the Masqueraders who are looking at this way of showcasing our culture and demonstrating to our young people and all Bahamian people that culture is something that can be turned into a business," said Maynard-Gibson.
"The future of the carnival is immense, and every aspect of it is to be celebrated -- the music, design, everything about it. When we look 10 years back from now, we will be saying, 'wow we never imagined that we could surpass carnivals everywhere else in the world'.
"To everyone involved -- go get it. I love to see all of the Junkanoo groups involved in carnival, as they are here tonight, and I have seen it here with my own eyes."
Playhouse DJ, Bravo Outten, who has branded himself the "Soca Devil", said he was impressed by the Masqueraders' launch.
"The launch is awesome. I'm loving the way the setup is. The models came out and did their thing."
Outten, who is a carnival enthusiast, carnival veteran and one of the most sought after soca DJs, said the 2017 carnival season is shaping up to be one of the best in a while. He touted the music dropping this year as better than the last several years.
"Soca 2017 outweighs 2016," he said. " I haven't heard music like this since 2015, and it's better than then."
Outten added that he has been impressed with the music coming out of The Bahamas for its own Junkanoo Carnival. He tossed out names like Rik Carey, Dyson Knight and Bodine as a few of the local talent breaking into the Soca mainstream.
What Outten said he and his Playhouse DJ's team want more of this year at Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival is fetes.
"Carnival is great, but fetes actually build you up to the road," he said.
Johnson insisted that the Bahamas government is prepared to have Junkanoo Carnival 2017, despite whispers that the festival might not happen.
"There is a lot of noise out there in the market about carnival," he said. "Don't listen to the noise -- it is on."
Johnson praised all of the Junkanoo groups present at the Masqueraders launch and said his ministry is preparing to boost festival tourism in the country. "This is about making money off of what we have," he said.

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A leap of faith

February 17, 2017

Unfortunately, there are a whole lot of extremely timid people who constantly try to play it safe in every aspect of their life. These kinds of people are not risk-takers, and then they wonder why they never appear to achieve anything worthwhile in their life. Of course there are those who do quite well. I mean they have a decent job, a fair salary on which they can live, but are not able to do some of the things they'd really like to and had indeed dreamed about doing in their younger years. These kinds of people are always over cautious. They must always play by the book, as the saying goes, and therefore appear never to be able to take any risks at all.
My friend whilst I'm not knocking these kinds of overly cautious people of which there are many, believe me however, one thing I do know is this. If one really wishes to succeed in life and excel, well then, there's no doubt about it, a person has to be prepared every now and then when an obvious opportunity appears which requires taking a chance on something. You must be prepared to, as the title of today's article puts it, take a leap of faith. Yes you must. Those outstanding people spread throughout the world, are always people who were indeed at some time prepared to take a chance, a calculated risk, a leap of faith that shot them rapidly up the proverbial ladder of success.
I knew a young man many years ago who left school at age 16 to work at a gas station pumping gas and changing tires. He was earning a reasonable salary. But then the job of manager of the station became vacant. He wished to apply but his parents advised against it. However, he followed his gut instincts, took a giant leap of faith, and started to run the gas station. Eventually this young man ended up owning several highly profitable gas stations and other businesses. Case closed!

o Think about it!
Visit my website at: www.dpaulreilly.com.
Listen to "Time to Think" the radio program on STAR 106.5 FM at 8:55 a.m. & 6:20 p.m.

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A tru tru Bahamian experience

February 17, 2017

As expected, the Tru Tru Bahamian Festival delivered on a variety of Bahamian food, arts and craft, and entertainment as the John Watling's Distillery came alive with authentic Bahamian culture.
Vendors said they received true benefits from the festival.
Denise Worrell of Naturally Bahamian was one of the many vendors who took advantage of the opportunity to showcase her goods.
"We wanted people to be aware of truly Bahamian things that are indigenous to our culture and so we have a variety of teas that we allow people to sample," she said. "We are happy to be a part of this because there are so many things that pretend to be naturally Bahamian and this festival captures what is truly Bahamian. We have such a vast variety of talent and it is uplifting to be a part of this."
United Kingdom visitors Grace Covedalle and John Noble enjoyed the event.
"We've been stopping at out-of-town locations and it's been nice to see people are doing something authentic and using the materials in the country," said Covedalle.
Kevin and Judy Jelinek of Milwaukee also said they enjoyed the festival. They found it interesting and enjoyed the art and craft on display as well as the music.
The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism sponsored the February 11 event, which was a production of the Bahamas Hotel Tourism Association (BHTA).
Director General of Tourism Joy Jibrilu said everything added up to a wonderful event in the festival's second year.
"Two years ago the BHTA came to me with the idea for Tru Tru Bahamian Festival and it made sense. For the first year, the Tru Tru Bahamian Festival had 700 participants. This year, the number has far exceeded that because people have come to an environment that is beautiful and that's authentic Bahamian culture. Everything just adds up to a wonderful event," she said.
"There are some partnerships that really work for the Ministry of Tourism and so an event like this where our artisans, cooks and musicians have an opportunity to display and sell their goods and the amount of visitors enjoying the festival speaks to how well it is growing and I hope it continues to align with our mission at the Ministry of Tourism."
The date was originally scheduled for November 2016, but after Hurricane Matthew ravaged The Bahamas, organizers wanted to give everyone a chance to recoup.
Tru Tru Festival Chairman Carlton Francis said he was happy with the growth Tru Tru Bahamian Festival had.
"We have so many adults and children enjoying truly authentic games. I really like the growth and hopefully we will see the festival spill into the streets of Charlestown," he said.

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Make ready to be jazzed

February 10, 2017

In just 27 days, three lucky Bahamians will find out whether they will be taking in the 12th edition of what has easily become the City of Miami Gardens' premiere entertainment event -- the Jazz In the Gardens (JITG) music fest, which celebrates diversity, culture and art through various genres of music -- absolutely free.
Since 2009, The Nassau Guardian, Star 106.5 FM and Hot 91.7 FM have teamed up with JITG and Bahamasair for this undeniable springtime destination event. Each winner's complete package for two for the March 18-19 music fest will include tickets to each night of JITG, Bahamasair tickets and accommodations at one of the participating hotel partners -- Hotel Indigo Miami Lakes, Comfort Suites, and Holiday Inn at 103rd Street. Winners and their travel partners will find themselves entranced by the rich beats and musical stylings that have vibrated from the stage for the past 11 years.
In eight years, 48 people have been able to experience the electric atmosphere that is JITG at the Hard Rock Stadium at absolutely no cost to themselves. Another three lucky winners (six people in total) will be added to that number -- a Nassau Guardian winner, Star 106.5 FM winner and an online winner.
"Our JITG giveaway has become very popular, so much so that people do what they have to do to win and stuff the entry box in their favor with multiple entries, which has resulted in us having had people winning back-to-back years," said Star 106.5 FM and Hot 91.7 FM Programming Director Tony Williams.
"With a number of avenues to enter, absolutely free, they can stack the box in their favor, and it's worked. This year I've noticed some of those two-time winners working to stack the box in their favor with multiple entries. If their name is pulled again this year on Wednesday, March 8, then they will win. They keep entering because they know how fantastic the experience is."
People have three ways they can enter to win complete packages: Filling out and clipping the entry form in The Nassau Guardian and dropping it off at The Nassau Guardian (no photocopies accepted); filling in the entry form on the Star 106.5 FM Facebook page and correctly answering a JITG-related trivia question or by calling in to answer a trivia question on the Star 106.5 FM morning show. People can enter as many times as they want and are encouraged to enter through multiple avenues as often as possible to increase their chances.
This year's JITG lineup is just as exciting as past years', with Jill Scott headlining the Saturday evening, which also features Robin Thicke, Herbie Hancock, Morris Day & The Time, Marion Meadows, Chante Moore, Will Downing and Betty Wright.
Sunday evening, closeout day two, will be headlined by the man the ladies continue to love - LL Cool J - and also features Common, The Roots, Andra Day, Smokie Norful and Esperanza Spalding.
Williams says the lineup is one to be excited about. Having already seen a number of previous acts by LL Cool J, Jill Scott, Robin Thicke and Common, being able to see Morris Day and the Time, Herbie Hancock, Andra Day, The Roots and Betty Wright will be exciting for him.
"Just being there with all those thousands of people in just one night in one place is exciting... it's electric. You want to just be there. And actually a lot of folks go and just want to go into general admission, because it's such a big party."
People who have never been before should go expecting to have a good time. Williams recommends arriving at the stadium early to take in all the fun that is to be had at the big party.
Woodrow "Woody" Wilson, senior manager for sales and marketing at Bahamasair, said the national airline of The Bahamas was happy to partner once again with The Nassau Guardian and Star 106.5 FM to give people the opportunity to take in the music festival.
Those who aren't lucky winners can still take in the party that is JITG, as Bahamasair, for the ninth year, has partnered with The Nassau Guardian, Star 106.5 FM and Hot 91.7 FM to ensure that Bahamians can fly to Florida to take it all in with incredible rates, inclusive of hotel and car. Airfare can be purchased from Bahamasair online or in person for as low as $224. Wilson also encourages Bahamians to book their airline tickets early to get the best possible rate. Bahamasair has multiple flights to Fort Lauderdale and Miami on both days.
For JITG special hotel and car rental rates are sourced that Bahamians can take advantage of. You have to call the hotel partners and ask for the Bahamasair Jazz In the Gardens special to get the discounted rates.
This year's hotel partners include Hotel Indigo at Don Shula Golf Course, at $149 per night; Comfort Suites on Commercial Boulevard, at $99 per night; and Holiday Inn on 103rd Street, at $95 per night.
Dollar/Thrifty/Hertz is offering car rental rates starting at $31 for an economy vehicle of your choice, once you ask for the Bahamasair JITG special.
"Every year we tell people to get their tickets early and take advantage of the rates and to not wait until the last minute," said Wilson. "We have wonderful partners in the hotels, some of whom have been with us for a number of years, in Comfort Suites, which has been with us from the start, and Hotel Indigo, which has accommodated a winner before. And this year we've added the newly renovated Holiday Inn on 103rd Street. I went by, had a look at it, and they've done a lot of work to the hotel. And Dollar/Thrifty/Hertz is another wonderful partner in that they always offer us a great deal. But to get the special rate, if you're not one of the lucky winners, or if you simply can't wait to find out if you won or not, is to call and say you're booking for the Bahamasair Jazz in the Gardens special."
Wilson, who has enjoyed the festival since its inception, said he always finds an act to enjoy, including those performers from his era and the more modern artists, some of whose music he knows through his children.
"I go from my kids to me," he said.
Bahamasair and Star 106.5 FM will also be giving away JITG general admission tickets.
"In addition to Jazz In the Gardens, we're going to identify concerts that we're going to partner with The Nassau Guardian and Star on," said Wilson. He said they are excited for what's to come.

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Tru Tru Bahamian Festival on tap for the weekend

February 10, 2017

What makes you a "Tru-Tru" Bahamian?
If you can't definitively pinpoint the answer to that question, then you may just want to take a turn at the Tru Tru Bahamian Festival, where it is said that a "Tru-Tru" Bahamian experience awaits -- including food favorites, arts and crafts, games, competitions, entertainment and a Junkanoo rush-out. By the end of it all, you may just be able to identify what makes you Bahamian.
The Tru Tru Bahamian Festival is a celebration of culture, heritage, traditions, artistic and culinary flair, and indigenous flora and fauna.
It will be held on Saturday at the John Watling's Distillery, showcasing a myriad of experiences for the family.
The festival, which began in 2015, showcases what makes each island individually unique and what each lends to traditions, handicrafts, food and drink, the environment and celebrations of song and dance.
In its young history the festival has been the place where children can take in creatures from land and sea as well as plant life indigenous to the islands. They will be able to interact with animals, play games and learn about Bahamian traditions lost to the modern age of electronics.
Games from yesteryear, such as ring play and plait the maypole take adults back in time.
The festival also features Bahamian sounds and traditional musical celebrations with performances by the much-lauded Royal Bahamas Police Force Band, high school bands and local hometown talent.
The festival was originally scheduled for November 2016, but was postponed after Hurricane Matthew stormed The Bahamas in October 2016; organizers wanted to give people a chance to regroup.
Four months after its initial date, Bahamas Hotel Tourism Association (BHTA) executive member Nina Maynard said officials expect the Tru Tru Bahamian Festival to be better than ever.
"This festival is for locals and visitors, young and old. Everybody is invited because there is something for everyone to do. Tourism has changed, and people are not just looking for sun, sand and sea. They are coming looking for who we are. We are looking to bring back who we are in our culture, in our food, in the way we interact, and so the Tru Tru Bahamian Festival brings all of that together," said Maynard.
The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism (MOT) sponsors the event.
"The Ministry of Tourism is involved in the Tru Tru Bahamian Festival because it is the intention of the minister of tourism to have exciting events year round throughout the Islands of The Bahamas," said Charity Armbrister, MOT director of events. "Also, being able to partner with the private sector can assist in the sustainability of the event," she said.
The Tru Tru Bahamian Festival gates will open at 10 a.m. and close at 8 p.m. with a Junkanoo rush-out. Admission is $5 for adults and $3 for children.

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Two more from the excellent crop of this year's Best Picture nominees

February 10, 2017

As usual, with the Super Bowl last weekend, there was very little of significance or worth watching in theaters. As such, I used the time to sample my final two of the nine movies nominated for Best Picture in this year's Academy Awards.
Sadly, neither of these two dramas, "Manchester by the Sea" or "Hell or High Water" has played here in The Bahamas as yet, but they are among the best-acted, written and directed films of 2016.

Manchester by the Sea
(U.S. rated R)
Cast: Casey Affleck, Lucas Hedges, Michelle Williams, Kyle Chandler
Genre: Drama
Dwight's rating: 3.5 stars

As with anything, it is often hard to live up to massive hype.
This is especially the case with movies. Summer blockbusters often fall short. And even the buzz surrounding some Oscar contenders can be head-scratching.
While not as over-hyped as, let's say, this year's Oscar-nomination-leading "La La Land", quite a lot has been said about "Manchester by the Sea".
Thankfully, this touching family drama might even surpass the widespread acclaim it has garnered since debuting at the Sundance Film Festival in January last year and its release in Unites States (U.S.) theaters in November.
The film stars Casey Affleck as Lee Chandler, a brooding, irritable loner who works as a handyman for a Boston apartment block. One damp winter day he gets a call summoning him to his hometown, north of the city. His brother's heart has given out suddenly, and he's been named guardian to his 16-year-old nephew. As if losing his only sibling and doubts about raising a teenager weren't enough, his return to the past re-opens an unspeakable tragedy.
This is a very simple story, but told in quite an interesting way. Director and screenwriter Kenneth Lonergan implements the most effective use of flashbacks I've seen in a long time. This over-used and often annoying and even disruptive gimmick is instead a tool to build suspense here.
We begin seeing Lee as a withdrawn, antisocial, monosyllabic, cold, zombie-like figure living life as if he were a serial killer. Suddenly in flashbacks we see him as someone who was filled with life and love, and even good cheer and humor. What in God's name happened?
We go quite a while before we learn about the "unspeakable tragedy". In the meantime, there's a sense of unease as you sit on the edge of your seat, racking your brain, trying to pick up any clues as to what might have gone wrong.
This piecemeal approach is a great choice, accentuating the stunning performances. It serves as a great showcase for Affleck, who has lived most of his career in the shadows of his big brother Ben.
Those days may be over!
The younger Affleck, who has been largely a supporting actor up to this point, moves firmly and comfortably into leading actor territory. He's essentially playing two characters, his former happier self, and this solemn shell of man. Remarkably, we can see the joy and enthusiasm in his eyes with the former, and the pain and frustration in those same eyes.
While soul baring and raw, it's still a very subtle performance. In the hands of another director or actor, it could easily have become over-the-top or overbearing. It's no wonder Affleck has been a dominating force this award season in a year with particularly strong leading male performances.
However, Affleck's won't be the only performance you talk about or remember; 20-year old Lucas Hedges is a revelation as Lee's teenage nephew. This scene-stealer has some of the movie's best lines and adds a great deal of levity to the often-somber story.
The rest of the supporting cast is also amazing. Michelle Williams, who has perfected the art of playing the long-suffering wife, is also strong, as is Kyle Chandler (TV's "Friday Night Lights"), as Lee's brother.
Yes, "Manchester by the Sea" is sad, but it's not dour. It's actually much more humorous than has been promoted, and is even uplifting. If there is a criticism, it's the two hour and 17 minute running length, which does feel a tad long by the time we cross the 120-minute mark.
Otherwise, the film certainly deserves its six Oscar nods -- the aforementioned Best Actor nomination for Affleck and Best Picture, plus supporting nods for Hedges and Williams, and director and screenplay for Lonergan. "Manchester by the Sea" has earned all its hype.

Hell or High Water
(U.S. rated R)
Cast: Chris Pine, Jeff Bridges, Ben Foster, Gil Birmingham
Genre: Crime drama
Dwight's rating: 3.5 stars

"Familiarity" has been as bad as that other F-word for the movie industry in the past year.
With 2016 seeming to be the year of the remake/sequel/prequel (like probably every year before it for at least the last decade), there's been a lot of familiar material. And in most cases, some may have wished the original work had never seen the light of day.
There's a familiarity about the crime drama "Hell or High Water" too. But it's a refreshingly different kind. It's definitely an original story, but it's reminiscent of many of the crime dramas from the 1970s and early '80s. I can almost picture a Clint Eastwood or Charles Bronson starring in it.
This neo-Western feels like a number of classic westerns too. And there's a "Bonnie and Clyde" aura as well.
But unlike most of last year's 'familiar' material, "Hell or High Water" should not be dismissed or ignored.
Two brothers -- Toby (Chris Pine), a straight-living, divorced father trying to make a better life for his son; and Tanner (Ben Foster), a short-tempered ex-con with a loose trigger finger -- come together to rob branch after branch of the bank that is foreclosing on their family land.
The hold-ups are part of a last-ditch scheme to take back a future that powerful forces beyond their control have stolen from under their feet. Vengeance seems to be theirs until they find themselves in the crosshairs of a relentless, foul-mouthed Texas Ranger (Jeff Bridges) looking for one last triumph on the eve of his retirement. As the brothers plot a final bank heist to complete their plan, a showdown looms at the crossroads where the last honest law man and a pair of brothers with nothing to live for except family collide.
I'm not sure why this fine drama never made it here. Released in the U.S. on August 12, at the winding down of the summer blockbuster season (the same weekend as "Florence Foster Jenkins" -- another good film that never made it to these shores), we instead got the interestingly named duo of "Sausage Party" and "Pete's Dragon".
That's too bad. Even though it's set in West Texas, the story is relatable on many levels, especially as it addresses anger with the banking sector, and mortgage and foreclosure challenges.
The biggest draw is the best dialogue of any movie I've seen this year, and perhaps in many years. No it's not Shakespeare, but Taylor Sheridan (who also wrote 2015's very well done "Sicario") has penned an extraordinarily entertaining script.
The authenticity and pace of the conversations is astounding. At the top of the list is the constant verbal sparring between Bridges and Gil Birmingham, who play the Texas Rangers investigating the bank robberies. Their witty and playful back-and-forth is very amusing.
The attention paid to even minor interactions with waitresses or bank robbery witnesses is shocking. These real conversations are exactly what you might say or expect to be said, and the most natural reactions to these scenarios.

Social commentary alert:
And to the many Bahamians who believe the time has come for "responsible citizens" in this country to be allowed to carry handguns for their own safety and protection, I challenge you to tell me the scene in which our bank robber brothers try to rob a crowded West Texas bank, that wouldn't play out exactly the same way here in this country!
So with the immensely entertaining dialogue, great character studies, the fantastic cast of Pine, Foster and Birmingham, but especially the superb Jeff Bridges, it's no surprise that "Hell or High Water" is up for four Academy Awards -- Best Picture, Film Editing, Original Screenplay and Supporting Actor for Bridges.
Despite the endless photocopies and rehashes of the same old ideas, "Hell of High Water" proves that even out of a not entirely new concept, something spectacularly fresh can still be achieved.

o Dwight Strachan is the host/producer of " Morning Blend" on Guardian Radio. He is a television producer and writer, and an avid TV history and film buff. Email dwight@nasguard.com and follow him on twitter @morningblend969.

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Ambra Albek and Quartetto Di Cremona's performances jumpstart NMS year

February 10, 2017

The Nassau Music Society's new year was jumpstarted by a stunning classical music performance by Ambra Albek and the Quartetto Di Cremona.
Ambra Albek and the Quartetto Di Cremona performed before a packed house at St. Paul's Catholic Church Hall, Lyford Cay, receiving a standing ovation the day after they entertained a smaller crowd at St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church.
The artists also led a master class that exposed music students to a unique learning experience.
Albek is a violinist and holds a master's degree with distinction in piano chamber music and a concert diploma with top marks, having studied in Italy and Switzerland.
She formed and performed as part of the Albek duo with her twin sister, Fiona, until Fiona's recent death. During their international concert career, the Albek duo participated in numerous festivals throughout Europe, the United States, South America, Australia and China. They performed both as a duo and in other chamber music formations, as well as playing solo duo with orchestra accompaniment.
For the final performance that led to a standing ovation, the artists collaborated to present a piece created in memory of Fiona and her exuberant and passionate personality.
Renowned for its mature and lyrical sound, string quartet Quartetto di Cremona has a focus and intensity that brings life to music, from the tight blend and immaculate voicing of the group's Brahms to the sleek and elegant dynamic contouring of its Mozart (Strad).
Its Saturday performance featured Schubert Quartet Death and the Maiden, and Beethoven String Quartet op. 29; its Sunday performances included F. Mendelssohn Cappricio op.81, W. A. Mozart K465, and Brahm's String Quartet op.111.
The Quartetto Di Cremona was formed in 2000 at the Stauffer Academy in Cremona, Italy, and continued as its members studied at Hatto Beyerle. The group is comprised of Cristiano Gualco and Paolo Andreoli on violin, Simone Gramaglia on viola and Giovanni Scaglioni on cello. They have played to critical acclaim at the most important venues and festivals in Europe, including at the Beethoven Haus and Beethoven Bonn, Konzerthaus (Berlin); Klara Festival (Brussels); Moving on Music Festival (Northern Ireland); and many others. They have also performed extensively in the United States as well as Australia, including at the popular Perth International Art Festival.
Ambra Albek and the Quartetto Di Cremona's performances were sponsored by Colina Insurance Limited, Pictet Bank, Lennox Patton, RoyalStar Assurance, The Mall at Marathon, Atlantis Resorts, RBC Royal Bank and Classical 98.1FM.
Simone Fitzcharles, Nassau Music Society (NMS) president, said the organization is gearing up this year to host a variety of concerts and master classes for a fun-filled season filled with visits from world-renowned artists, as its mission is to bring the world of music to The Bahamas. The society promised to promote and encourage the art of music in The Bahamas.
"We are proud to note that we have thus far fulfilled more than 50 percent of our $80,000 pledge to provide scholarships to outstanding music students at the University of The Bahamas," said Fitzcharles. "The goal is also one of simultaneously uplifting our youth and helping to bring their dreams into reality."

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'Da Bahamian Ting' Song Competition deadline comes up in eight days

February 10, 2017

With $76,000 in the prize purse, the songs entered into "Da Bahamian Ting" Song Competition will have to be tight if artists expect to be in the money, and as a result organizers have extended the deadline for artists to make their submissions.
The competition deadline has been extended to Friday, February 17. The competition launched in December 2016.
Songs to be entered must be of a Bahamian genre -- rake 'n' scrape, Goombay or Junkanoo and approximately three minutes in duration.
"As a professional musician, I know you need more time to plan things properly," said Rick Carey, coordinator in the Heritage and Culture Department of the Ministry of Tourism. "There are going to be those people who need the extra time to refine their songs."
Ten finalists will be selected from the submissions and the winner will be named at the Bahamian Music and Heritage Festival in Georgetown, Exuma March 9-11.
The overall winner will walk away with $25,000 and will be selected by the public.
Second place takes home a $20,000 purse; third place walks away with $15,000; a $10,000 award will go to fourth place; and fifth through 10th place winners will take home $1,000 each.
Carey said he hopes to see the next rising star of Bahamian music.
"I'm very excited about what the younger generation comes up with," he said.
Even though the deadline has been extended, Carey said they have seen scores of entrants, as Bahamians have been busy composing new and exciting songs for submission into the competition.
"We are really surprised by the response. It's been amazing. We have had interest and submissions from a lot of professional and amateur musicians, songwriters, bands and school choirs. It's not just people in Nassau either, we've had folks call from the Exumas, Eleuthera and Grand Bahama too," said Carey.
Contestants must submit their songs to the Ministry of Tourism.
Application forms and competition rules are available at the Ministry of Tourism, fourth floor, British Colonial Business Centre, #1 Bay Street, and all Family Island tourism offices. Submission forms and contest rules can also be found on the Ministry of Tourism's website at TourismToday.com. For more information call 302-2000 or email dabahamianting@bahamas.com.

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Aliv Bahamian Icon Awards 2017 nomination campaign launched

February 10, 2017

The organizing committee of the fifth annual ALIV Bahamian Icon Awards is now accepting candidate submissions for nomination for the 2017 award consideration.
The Icon Award recognizes exemplary achievement by Bahamian citizens in 15 categories -- commerce, education, entertainment, entertainment ensemble, entrepreneurship, finance, fine art, healthcare, humanitarianism, health, journalism, music, sports, rising star and tourism. The public is invited to visit the official website at www.bahamianiconawards.com and submit potential candidates based on specific achievements or contributions made from January 2015 to March 2017.
"This is perhaps the most exciting part of our awards season because it gives us an opportunity to read the stories of remarkable Bahamians from across the country," said Addis T. Huyler, founder and executive producer of The Bahamian Icon Awards.
"What is truly unique about this process is that the public gets a chance to inform our decisions as to who wins the nominations. Over the years we have received an increasingly overwhelming response from around the country with persons telling us about their icons and heroes. We are indeed proud to once again bring these stories to light and recognize these outstanding Bahamians for a job well done."
All submissions must be received on or before March 31. Official nominees will be announced on April 18.
The 2017 Aliv Bahamian Icon Awards will be handed out at a star-studded red carpet ceremony which will be held on June 17 at The Melia Nassau Beach Resort and broadcast live nationwide on OUR TV.
The Bahamian Icon Awards acknowledges the exemplary achievements of men and women who have excelled in various industries, thus contributing to the overall development of the Bahamian community. Our mission is to provide an achievable goal that inspires and encourages consistent efforts to achieve excellence and the fostering of good will. For more information visit www.bahamianiconawards.com.

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