|Byron Lee and the Dragonaires were in town breathing fire at the Hyatt Regency Hotel on Saturday Nov. 4. Featured vocalists Leon Coldero, Oscar B, Audria Perez, and Cedric Poitier joined the Dragonaires in a first class performance that demonstrated why Byron Lee has maintained his popularity for so many decades and is considered by many to be the number one band in the Caribbean,
Bobby's Music Machine normally belts out hot and spicy sounds when in action but was rather mellow while warming up the audience for the main event. What was probably the largest ballroom in the hotel was filled to capacity with Byron Lee fans who seemed to range from late teens to septagens. This was a very animated crowd of folks who filled the dance floor throughout the night whether it was Bobby's Music Machine or Byron Lee generating the music.
There were a lot or disappointed Caribbean homeys when the door prize, a trip for two to anywhere in the Caribbean where Air Jamaica flies was drawn. The prize went to a Sierra Leonine who was so excited that one would think the fellow won a trip to West Africa. Speaking of Caribbean homeys, most of the people on the dance floor appeared to be Guyanese judging from the flags waving overhead in frenzied hands. The frenzy began with Leon Coldero belting out "Ash in the Air" and a medley of truck music that included "Tiny Winey." It was also evident when the vocalists called on the audience to scream "yes!" when their country of origin was called. The loudest response came when Guyana was called. It was excitement galore.
Audience participation has been significant in Byron Lee's shows and this show was no different. It began with Roxanne from Trinidad & Tobago who was celebrating her birthday at the show and demonstrated on stage how to "ride the bicycle" causing near pandemonium in the place. Then there was that Chilean man who surprised a lot of people that he too could "ride the bicycle." Chile is not chilly at this time of the year. It is getting hot down there. Another audience participating event was the winin' contest. Oscar B. invited some ladies from the audience to come onstage and demonstrate their winin' ability and got representatives from the USA, Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago, Guyana and Grenada. The elimination bouts were a crazy sight to behold as these loose hips ladies left quakes in the minds of many a male and envious eyes on many a female. Leandra Persaud of Lanham, MD was the winner by many lengths as she left Oscar B. stunned and panting in awe.
B & T Productions event marked Byron Lee's 15th appearance in Washington, D.C. and in his own words this was the best audience he can remember. Byron Lee said he is pleased with the way his band performed and that the sound system provided for the DC performance brought out what is best about the band, tight syncopation. Lee has high hopes for Audria Perez his new female vocalist as well as Cedric Poitier, nephew of actor Sidney Poitier. The Dragonaires' M.C. and bassman, Courtney Robb, with Lee for the last 28 years, was out for months after a heart attack but is back and in fine shape. Lee said that he has been touring with his band for 44 years and is still in good shape with no end in sight. He said he has a great love for music and considers it the vitamin that keeps him alive Lee has a couple of projects for next year, which includes his 7th volume of Soft Lee as well as the annual Soca album like this year's "Soca Thriller". However; his next album will be one where all the tunes will be Byron Lee originals. Asked if his recently released gospel album, "Jump and Wave for Jesus," indicates a mellowing Lee, he said that he always wanted to do a gospel album and felt that this was the right time.
Byron Lee and the Dragonaires has got to be one of the hardest working bands from the Caribbean if this past show can be used as a barometer. The show was a good three and a half hours of nonstop action interspersed with the addition of Leon Coldero as lead vocalist. Fans were treated to a repertoire of Soul, Soca, Ska, Reggae, Latin and Hip-Hop, a feast for any hard to please music junkie. You would have to be a glutton not to come away satisfied that you were well entertained by Byron Lee and the Dragonaires.