|Notes from a small island
A weblog by Jonathan Ali
Sunday, May 11, 2003 Funny that I've never blogged about Jointpop, my favourite local rock group, until now. I've been a fan of their frontman Gary Hector since he started his first band, Oddfellows Local (name filched from the REM song: "Oddfellows local 151 behind the firehouse...") over 10 years ago; admiration for the man and his talent has only grown since.
Last night Jointpop were live at an uptown club, playing before a crowd of less than a hundred. They're used to this by now, and Hector's ironic between song banter ("great to see so many of you here tonight") testifies to this recurring fact. It's not their fault. This is Trinidad. Rock music - even the undeniably localised version that Jointpop play - gets no respect round these parts. Which in the main isn't much of a cause for concern, as most local bands are amateurish mimics of their American influences (as opening band, Flying Crapaud, proved eminently).
But Jointpop are the real deal, and though after all these years he's surely come to terms with the lack of mainstream success, Gary Hector is obviously still rather rankled by the continued toil in the vinyard of musical obscurity. A minor miracle, then, that he still pours such energy and passion into his songwriting, and the band into their performances. Playing a healthy mix of songs from both their albums, Port of Spain Style and Exile, Baby, there isn't a bum note to be heard in Jointpop's enthralling, incandescent 45 minute set; classic, vital rock gloriously swirling in dissonance and feedback. They're never less than at the top of their game, even when they break down in the middle of a song into a potentially self-indulgent jam session. The energy doesn't sag once, fuelled by that heady mix of intense emotional sincerity and jagged, snarling cynicism. Even the shambolic, stop-start run through the encore number, Dylan's "Like a Rolling Stone" is pitch-perfect.
"We gotta move to LA, man," Hector says at one point in his best imitation SoCal drawl. Doubly ironic, this statement: not just a comment on the local rock scene, but also on the fact that when Hector was with Oddfellows Local, he did try his luck at making it in America. Now that the stars have fallen from his eyes, the sad truth is that, as the song "Exile, baby" so poignantly testifies, Hector doesn't fit, neither there nor here. This is no dramatic pose, but a palpable dilemma that so many face, caught between (almost literally) a rock and a very hard place.
What to do? In Hector's - and Jointpop's - case, it's to keep on keeping on; to continue making the music and putting it out there, in the knowledge that there are at least those precious few who still support the cause. Hard to say how long it will last, but I'll blessedly take nights like this for as long as I can. Long live rock n' roll.
posted by Jonathan | 3:57 AM 0 comments