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A joyous Berkeley family reunion

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Music to fill your soul: Hundreds of Berkeleyites of all ages enjoyed the Summer Jazz Jam

On Saturday July 11, 2015 hundreds of Berkeleyites, spanning multiple generations, found themselves heeding the call to return home.

Under the distinguished patronage of Mr Robert Horton Esq. aka “RKH”, The Berkeley Educational Society held their second annual Summer Jazz Jam; an evening of excitement and entertainment held at The Berkeley Institute.

Originally planned for the upper courtyard, due to inclement weather Berkeleyites did what they do best, adapted and overcame the problem by quickly switching to the inner amphitheatre-like auditorium.

Here oft you will find us

Among those in attendance were: numerous former and present teachers of The Berkeley Institute, several former and present permanent secretaries, a prison commissioner, two former Bermuda Regiment commanders, a former Bermuda Regiment Band leader, lawyers, doctors, accountants, trades persons, radio personalities and a host of Berkeleyites too numerous to mention, ranging in age from 17 to 77-plus.

Essentially, it was, once again, another heart-filled Berkeley family reunion.

Long “tuck shop”-like lines were formed to partake in the veritable selection of goodies such as: a selection of wines, cheese, crackers, fresh fruits, light beverages, local sorrel and water.

Hugs, handshakes and embellished stories of times at The Berkeley were the order of the day while seats were being taken during this multi-generational school assembly.

We are the men of the years to come, we are the women of the future

Replete in a red shirt and blue pants, the opening act consisted of one Berkeleyite Mr Charles Henry Jeffers Sr. Removing all doubt of his Cup Match allegiance, Mr Jeffers provided the opening salvo of laughter and Berkeley camaraderie juxtaposed with the never ending “Berkeley Family Feud” of Green house versus Gold house.

He then introduced the hostesses of the night: Valerie Leader-Furbert and Darlene Hartley, representing Gold house and Green house respectively.

Exuding class, poise and homegrown Bermudian talent, these ladies set about setting the pace for the evening with Carnegie Hall-like stage management. Invoking heavenly spirits from on high, The St Paul AME Praise Team was first up to deliver a number of upbeat gospel renditions comparable to a host of angels. It is no wonder thousands tune into St Paul’s every Sunday to hear these voices.

Next up was a brass rendition of The Berkeley School Song delivered by the Blues Beat Band lead by proud Berkeleyite Major Barrett Dill and his troupe of “Men In Black”.

Their brass ballad of the Temptations Motown classic “My Girl” had the crowd fully participating and swaying to the summer breeze. As always, the Blues Beat Band left the crowds longing for more as they exited stage left.

Their exit made way for our “lady who sings the blues” in notes that leave us anything but feeling the blues. Meticulously classy, petite powerhouse Berkeleyite Mrs Gita Blakeney-Saltus paid homage to the beloved “RKH” who has mentored herself and thousands of others in more ways than she could describe.

Her stellar performance had the crowd on the edge of their seats and standing in ovation with all begging for an encore.

Instead of an encore they received a slice of musical perfection embodied in the band known as Paradise. Displaying what could only be described as organ like orgasms, Paradise lived up to their name in every shape and form, until they too, left the now addicted crowd craving for more and more.

Intermission time

To give all performances true justice, I will complete this review in an upcoming piece.

Any one of the hundreds at the Summer Jazz Jam would bear witness to the talent pouring out of present day and upcoming Bermudian musicians.

They truly need our love and support in every way we can provide. Suffice it to say, the mere suggestion that Bermuda is not overflowing with talent in multiple arts is, in one word, farcical.

As RKH drilled in our heads: “To thine selves be true.”

Respice Finem.