Words and Photos by Ravi Lloyd
Moonsplash began 25 years ago as an intimate session where Bankie Banx and all of his friends would just jam and sell food to raise money for the band. That homegrown kind of vibe still continues with the festival today, even has its grown into an international event considered one of the Eastern Caribbean’s biggest and best annual live music events. Performers in recent years have included the likes of John Mayer, Buju Banton, Jimmy Buffett and Chronixx.
Moonsplash lived up to its tradition of beach-reggae-jam greatness this past weekend, as it celebrated a quarter-century of good vibes. On Friday and Saturday night, The Dune Preserve, Bankie’s own beachfront venue, hosted an intimate showing featuring some of the region’s best performers, including Jah Cure, Omari Banks, Freddie McGregor, Third World and, of course, Bankie himself.
Night one, dubbed International Night, was the night to catch for the younger crowd. Rising Anguillan R&B talent Natalie took the stage early with her debut single “Perfect” as well as some feelgood covers, and Mighty Mystic out of Boston jazzed up the scene for the rest of the reggae acts to follow. Omari Banks took the stage for a passionate, hour-long set that included bringing up his father, Bankie Banx, for some renditions of his oldies like “Prince of Darkness.”
Friday night’s headliner, Jah Cure definitely brought the heat. Moonsplash is one of the only festivals that is so intimate. At Moonsplash there’s no security gate, or even security for that matter, between you and the artist. This was certainly good news for the ladies up front during Jah Cure, as the reggae star reached out to grab their hands as he sang hits like “Never Find.”
The second night was filled with that heavy home spirit. Bankie delivered a warm and vibrant, Caribbean folk-infused performance like you might have seen at those first jam sessions on the beach back in the ’80s and ’90s. Third World followed Bankie, and, of course, they had to bring Banx back out for another session on the harmonica. Omari, identified by Third World’s Cat Coore as his “favorite Anguillian batsman,” (he was the island’s top cricketer before focusing on music) joined the jam, performing his latest single “No Point to Prove,” backed by Third World.
Freddie McGregor then finished the weekend strong with the classics “I Was Born a Winner,” “Push Come to Shove,” and, of course, “Big Ship.” Given the festival’s oceanfront setting, it was a fitting close to the weekend’s festivities.