Granada is a Caribbean nation 100 miles off the coast of Venezuela with a population about that of Dayton’s. If Americans have heard of Grenada at all it’s probably in connection with Ronald Reagan’s Cold War saber-rattling invasion of the island in 1983.
That might change Sunday when Cleveland saxophonist Ronell Regis presents a world premiere performance of “Grenada to the World: The Suite” at Cleveland’s Bop Stop.
The legendary Patti LaBelle has been on stages large and small since Dwight Eisenhower was in the White House. As a performer, she’s done it all and seen it all, but she couldn’t have expected what happened at her 2015 performance at the Ohio State Fair in 2015.
“She called a group of guys [on stage] as a thing in her show,” Dane Vannatter wrote me in an exchange yesterday. “She asks them to sing, they can’t, and the audience laughs when she says, ‘Well then dance!’”
Vannatter was one of those guys, but when he opened his mouth to sing, the great soul diva fell silent. She couldn’t have known that Vannatter had been on a few stages himself, and when she gathered herself to address her unexpected guest, all she could say was, “You better sing, fool! My God!”
What’s the second-most exciting day in a composer’s life? The day of the first performance of a new piece, of course. So, what’s the most exciting day? The day of the second performance. World premieres are exciting, but many compositions are heard once and then disappear. A second performance confers a bit of staying power.
This is especially true in the concert music world, but composers of creative music in the Black American tradition face many of the same challenges in bringing their work to the stage. Enter The Third Law Collective, a gathering of local composer/players whose project to present and support new composition in northeast Ohio gets underway Jan. 26 at Bop Stop.
At 70, you would think drummer and percussionist Jamey Haddad would be ready to slow down. After all, he’s toured the world with artists such as Paul Simon, Sting and Yo-Yo Ma. Yet he’s equally excited to play this weekend’s pair of gigs at Bop Stop with a trio of accomplished Ohioans. To Haddad, only the music matters.