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Musician Shine is busking in glory

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A little girl watches as the busker's jar fills with dollar bills.

With no money of her own, she offers all she has: a piece of candy.

“One of my most unforgettable contributors,” Wendell “Shine” Hayward said.

“I'm telling you, at the end of the day my mouth was so dry and I just saw this little candy. I'll never forget it.”

Shine grew up playing music in the church before studying at Berklee College of Music in Boston. He played with the Ghandi Burgess orchestra, and then later formed his own band, Shine Hayward and Friends.

The former club owner recalls a time when every hotel on the island had a house band. You could hear live music “any night of the week”.

“There came a time when the entertainment scene changed in Bermuda,” he said. “It just died.”

Shine is bringing back those glory days with a dinner show at Grotto Bay, Death by Disco.

A murder mystery centred around the world of disco dancing, it's a classic whodunnit storyline written by an American friend, Jim Daab.

His children, Nadanja and Nishanthi Bailey, play the reigning king and queen of the disco dancing competition, returning to defend their crowns.

“The contestants will do anything to win this competition — and I mean anything,” Shine added, theatrically.

“We engage the audience. They're fed, they dance, they sing, they mingle.”

With it comes a four-course meal, a complimentary swizzle and photo ops — the cast of seven wear afros, dashikis, polyester bell-bottoms and platform shoes.

“Really we're a bunch of adults who can't seem to let go of the Seventies,” he laughed.

Born in 1956, the Seventies marked his coming of age. He hit the music scene right before it burnt out.

“No two nights are the same and because it's such a strong cast, they can improve,” he told Lifestyle. “We're never perfect, but always good, always entertaining. The cast remains in character on and off the stage once the evening begins.”

The production was resurrected from a 2012 run at Shine's House of Music.

When his eponymous Reid Street club closed down in 2013, he took some time off to reinvent himself. Giving up the club was hard. “Closing it wasn't something that I wanted to do, but it was something that we were forced to do,” he said.

“That was my life at that time. All that I had was my music.”

He returned to basics.

This is his second full year of busking, a business that is “all about location”. Shine frequents high-traffic, touristed areas Dockyard, St George's and the Hamilton Ferry dock.

“It gives me the opportunity to be on my horn,” he said.

He said the busking culture hasn't taken off in Bermuda the way it has in big cities such as London and New York, but he revels in the job.

“It's a great opportunity to meet people and give the tourists something special.

“And, yes, I am enjoying it. Music makes their wait a little more bearable.

“No two days are the same. Sometimes there's an audience that is very responsive to what I'm playing.

“As I look around, I see the audience singing along. I see couples dancing.

“For the age group of the tourists we have, there's very few places that they go out and dance.

“I've had people dancing on the wharf and even in the [Clocktower] mall up in Dockyard.

“All of a sudden it's like there's life.”

He said busking is a way for musicians to “take matters into their own hands” when they lack opportunities to showcase their talents.

“You have to have the confidence. Because I'm a professional musician, folks can make requests and I can honour them.

“I don't have a big Beyoncé repertoire, but I can do the classics.”

He keeps himself busy with parties, weddings, and “the occasional funeral”.

On Saturday nights, Dine with Shine takes place at Wahoo's in St George's.

He said given the chance, he wouldn't go back.

“From a professional musician's perspective the Seventies weren't that great. Disco was the start of musicians being put out of work. The disco came in and with it the DJs.

“I don't want to go back. It's a new day, it's a new time. I would just like to see the respect for live entertainment to come back. Even though the music may have changed, as long as it's music it can be played or produced by live musicians.”

Death by Disco is on Thursday nights at 7pm. Tickets are $80. For reservations call 293-8333

Local talent: Shine Hayward plays at the Hamilton Ferry Terminal (File photograph by Akil Simmons)
Feeling the beat: Shine Hayward playing at the proclamation of International Jazz Day on the steps of City Hall in 2013 (File photograph)

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Published May 30, 2016 at 9:00 am (Updated May 30, 2016 at 8:27 am)

Musician Shine is busking in glory

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