Ebanks not on jazz card

| 04/11/2008

(CNS): Award winning local jazz musician Gary Ebanks is a surprise omission from this year’s line up for the Cayman Islands Jazz Fest. Cayman’s leading saxophonist and only professional musician actually playing jazz for a living, has been left out, the DOT says, to make room for local artists from other genres on what is a limited card. Relatively philosophical aboutthe snub, Ebanks said it was a shame that local musicians had to be rotated at all given the fact it is suppose to be a Cayman showcase.

“If I have to be sacrificed to allow other local musicians a shot then I’m fine with that but I would have thought that if Cayman wants to best represent itself we would use all of our best talent,” Ebanks said. “After all, it is a showcase and I would suggest that cutting me out to bring more foreign acts in is not necessarily helping to promote the concept of the Cayman Jazz festival or the local musical scene as a whole.”

Asked why Cayman’s best known jazz artist and recent winner of the CNCF lifetime achievement award was dropped from the 2008 card, the DoT told CNS that although Jazz Fest is predominantly a jazz and R&B festival, one of the primary goals of the event is to give Caymanian artists of all genres the chance to showcase their talent alongside international artists and in front of an international audience.

 “The Department of Tourism is blessed in that we have a great pool of local talent from which to draw from and to be fair to all artists we change the line up each year to give everyone a chance to shine,” said acting Director of Tourism, Shomari Scott. “That said, Gary Ebanks has played at every one of our four jazz fests to date and we are extremely grateful to him for giving some amazing performances. This year we are delighted to announce some very talented local artists – KK Alese, Mainstream, Jonathan Ebanks, Stuart Wilson & Love Culture and Impulz – who will share the stage with international performers such as Anita Baker and Michael Bolton.”

Ebanks said that he had no hard feelings at all about the DoT decision and hoped that they would reconsider him for next year’s line up, but he could not help but feel he has a lot to offer not just as a performer but with his experience as a professional in the industry for so long and he could have helped the DOT in the overall production of the event.

”I’m not angry about this and I’m looking forward to next year, but if we are to be realistic it’s a shame that I can’t contribute not just on stage but to the whole production,” Ebanks said. He noted that the scale of the production required a lot of work and that he would’ve been happy to help DoT with important elements such as ensuring the local acts featured made it on to the BET promotional schedule.

“Yet again Cayman’s acts won’t be in any of the BET promotional material as it was all submitted far too late,” said Ebanks. “These things are important. We need to ask ourselves who is the Jazz Fest for? Missing out on these major promotional opportunities demonstrates that the DoT has too many other things to do and would benefit from the creation of a Jazz Fest board or committee of local musicians to focus on all of the elements of this important annual event.”

Ebanks also noted that the Cayman Islands Jazz Fest was not advertised in any of this month’s issues of the jazz press such as Downbeat, Jazziz and Jazz Times.

Smiling through the snub, however, Ebanks said that the most annoying thing about him not appearing this year was that the decision was made by a political figure that knew nothing about him or his music. "Lets face it, Charles Clifford (the Minister of Tourism) has never been to see us perform but he is making a decision on whether I should be allowed to play jazz or not,” Ebanks added.

Not one to be undermined by events, Ebanks said  that no matter what happened during the weekend he would be playing somewhere on island and that he hoped that those visiting for the jazz fest, as well as his many local supporters would manage to look him up and come to hear him play. “At the end of the day I will be playing that weekend somewhere on island and I hope the jazz fans will come seek us out,” he added.





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  1. Hi Tide says:

    Charity begins at home.

    How about Caymanians (including local musicians) go out and support local musicians.
    We all want support but hardly give any.

    Someone is playing somewhere almost every night of the week. No admission either.


  2. Anonymous says:

    1.Gary Ebanks has played every Jazz festival so far.

    2. It’s somebody elses turn.

    3. Local he may be, but an accomplished Jazz player? Absolutely not.

  3. Anonymous says:

    In my humble oppinion it would be more benefitial for Cayman to get more of the local talented musicians to play at this international event .No matter how many times the man plays no matter whom is coming down to the event, whe simple can’t trou one of our best bands out for any visiting band ;It sounds bad and sad to hear this happenning .This band is our Cayman band,they represent our talent and inspire the young generation to want to be good in the music field.This band is playing for Cayman,is not about a name ,the man dosen’t play alone,he represents Cayman here and now,they are a group of people that have earned the right to represent us ,they are our own people.They need to get rewarded.We need to incorporate more local artists to get international exposure that would give our country international exposure also.The man  and his band are good that is what he does best,let him play and let all and every Caymanian that got talent play there too.Even if you reduce his playing time to 1 simple song,but please don’t let this man and his fellow band team, feel left out in their own arena;We must stop and think that non of the invited musicians would like to know that because they were coming here to play we had to leave one of our own best  bands out.Cayman is small but we can fit locals and international groups.That is not the way to reward our people,our musicians,our talented artists.Let’s work in unity ,let’s give the other bands and other young peoples a chance,but not by elimineting the hard working people.Give the new ones a change because we all deserve it,but let’s reward the ones that always been there for us.That would teach the younger generation that hard work and dedication can give them too a chance to get in to the big events.Thank you all.

  4. Devon E. says:

    Just to clarify something, the fact that I played on all three nights of last years Jazz Fest does not mean that DOT hired me for all three nights. My band was hired for the thursday night only. I was asked by one of the local bands to play on their set on the Friday night and I happened to be an instrumentalist in the ensemble on Saturday night for Another local artist.

    I did not take away anybody’s equal opportunity.

  5. Anonymous says:

    why….Shame Shame on the last Comment!???

    I think it’s a given that if it were the same line up year after year then it would get boring and uninteresting.  Give other musicians a chance to showcase their talent and make the concert interesting.  That’s what makes peple want to come back year after year.  

    And yes, I do know what it’s like for musicans to gather their all their guts to get up on stage and perform in front of people……but that is what they WANT to do.  

    Oh and since you’re jumping to conclusions about me, let me set a couple of things straight, I am not an ungracious visitor nor a crab in the barrel (whatever that means?!).   I know probably more than you about what it takes for musicans to make it in this world and what it’s like to watch some of make it and some of them fail.  I do also know that if you want your darling son to "entertain" people then he needs to be given a chance by the other musicans who play year after year, to stand aside and let new talented musicans – just like your darling son – have the opportunity to show Cayman and the world what they can do!

    So yes, I stand by my first comment of "Thank God he’s not playing AGAIN".

  6. Anonymous says:

    Not just the jazz fest guys or DOT is happening on all the show that local bands are playing. so!! you get the call to play, go get paid, do your best, keep you head up hi and be thankful for the gig.

  7. Anonymous says:

    I agree that this is not really a ‘Jazz’ Festival in the sense that most artists involved (both local and otherwise) are not playing jazz (Hmm, Gary does though!). Keep in mind that most ‘jazz fests’ are not primarily jazz anyway, with Montreux coming to mind (Tower of Power is there pretty much every year – are they jazz?), and many ‘blues fests’ are more rock / country oriented – just seems to be a name (so yes, for all of them ‘Music Festival’ would be a better term.

     It’s a shame the advertising isn’t being handled better (plus the roster could use some improvement), we really need to get Cayman into the limelight here.


  8. Devon E. says:

    Of course any local musician would relish the thought to be on that world class stage. I know because I have been on that stage for 3 of the years that the fest has been in existence. In fact, last year I was the only musician, local or international that was on the stage for all 3 of the nights. The Thursday night with my own band TriplePlay, and the subsequent nights as a support musician for two other local acts.

    It feels great to perform for your own people and to have visitors asking to take pictures with you and to sign autographs.  Myself like other musicians here was hoping for a call from DOT. However it did not come this year for me and although I was a bit disappointed, I understand the reasoning that they want to give equal opportunity to other local artist that are doing well and are trying to come up. I have no problem with that. As long as the local artists this year maintain the high standard that was set by last years lineup.

    It is good to have the variety. Imagine how boring it would be to see the same local acts every year. Maintaining variety also applies to headline acts as well. Imagine seeing Alecia Keys at the same Major music festival year after year. That would probably get tiring and stale very quickly.

    We as local musicians should be happy that our fellow artists will all get to taste international glory at one point or another.

    • Hi Tide says:

      As a local Devon E got to perform 3 nights last year. Is that giving all local artist an equal opportunity? Not really.

      But that says something about the effort he has been putting in to be worthy of playing every night of the festival.

      We really don’t have many "concert" type bands on the island. Mainly guys singing to pre-programmed music on computers. So let the few real live bands play and play and play and play until we get more who are worthy of the big stage.

      This festival is something that all local musicians should aim for. Because of what is expected at this type of event I see it leading to the improvement and quality of music we provide here.

      Congratulations to all the local artist chosen this year. Although you only get a brief performance at the begining of the night when people are only just showing up, go out there and tear it up.

      I’ve had many tourists and locals tell me they enjoyed the local segment of the show immensly because the music was refreshing and not as drawn out and tedious as some the headliners tend to be.

      • Devon E. says:

        Although it is true that the local acts usually play at the begginning of the night, I find that the overseas visitors are usually the ones that are there early. So you still get to expose your talent to those from outside these borders which is good. They really appreciate it because the music is so much different from what they are accustomed to hearing in the US. Realise that those visitors can hear any of those headline acts anywhere, anytime in the US. But they have to come to the caribbean to hear our different flavor.

        Unfortunately it is the local population that usually miss out on the stellar local performances because they have a really bad habit of showing up late for most concerts anyway, and by doing so not giving credit and courtesy to their own musicians.


  9. Anonymous says:

    Shame Shame on the last Comment!

    Either You are A Crab in the Barrel or an Ungracious Visitor.

    My son is an Aspiring Young Caymanian Musician & let me tell you it takes Guts to persist with this passion to entertain others!

    If you want Montreal Jazz Festival I suggest you take the plane and pay the price! Its very easy as 1 2 3….




  10. Anonymous says:

    Thank God he’s not on the list AGAIN after how many years??  I know that if it is pretty much the same line up year after year then why would I pay so much money for a ticket??   You need something new to get people to want to go.


  11. Hi Tide says:

    This is really not a "Jazz" festival. The headliners are almost always R&B.

    I think the Cayman Islands Music Festival would be a better name but I guess adding the word "Jazz" gives it more pizazz.

    Since the begining of this year the DoT has been using our song "Open Invitation" for their TV ad campaign in the USA. We have received numerous emails from people all over the States telling us that they’ve seen the ad and heard our song on TV. So I thought it would be a no brainer that this year we would be picked for the festival to perform that song live for the many people who would have seen the ad. But it did not happen.

    No big fuss. We’ve done the show twice and are truly happy for all worthy local performers to get a chance. But keep in mind local musicians: The best promotion we could get from this is if our live performances were shown on BET Jazz.. But only the headliners get this privelage. We don’t even get a 10 second snippet of our performances on BET. So for the local acts it’s just another gig.

    I must admit, it is a great feeling to play for a big crowd and get that massive applause. Something we are not accustomed to here. But that’s as far as it goes.

    It would be great if BET and DoT could come to some sort of agreement that any local artist performing original material (eg. KK this year) be given a little time on TV. It could lead to her getting downloads from all over the States.Let’s also keep in mind almost all the headliners, as great and famous as they are, are all past their prime and have made their millions. It would be great for our locals to get what ever little chance they can.

  12. Anonymous says:

    MB Ebanks, below is a definition of "professional" for your benefit. I do not receive Governement support for my chosen profession and wouldexpect that you don’t either. I fail to see why any of these people should come to expect it either.


    "following an occupation as a means of livelihood or for gain"

  13. The Real Issue says:

    I think that the more disturbing apect of this is the disorganised promotion. It’s scary when DOT has all this money to throw around and fail to use it effectively.

    Yes, Mr. Ebanks is talented and a wonderful jewel for these islands but, he has had the chance to shine at these events before. I agree that others should have the same opportunity.

    The problem lies in what Gary discusses in the article- poor promotion of the overall event and lack of promotion of local artists. DOT could do much better in this Department- they owe this to the people of Cayman and ALL home grown talent. Let the world know that we are proud of our local artists!

    Maybe DOT should consider requesting that BET and other media that attend the event do a full interview panel with local performers. I know they will give that level of attention to the international performers when they arrive- local artists deserve the same.

  14. William Steward says:

    DOT’s explanation for not employing one of Cayman’s only working jazz musicians is almost plausible…to give others a chance….although it ends up sounding a bit too much like an excuse. Gary’s response is gracious and let’s face it, the BET event is only marginally about "jazz" anyway. The selection process for local musicians for this event has been a bit of a mystery for those of us out in the community who actually perform improvised music either regularly or (in my case) intermittently. I have always wondered why DOT does not advertise the opportunity through the Cayman Music and Entainment Association (CMEA) http://www.caymanmusic.ky/ or publicly call for proposals much in the same way professional consultants are selected.  

    All we are saying is….give jazz a chance.  🙂

  15. Annonymous says:

    Mr. Ebanks,

    Just as a thought, yes you’ve worked the industry for awhile, and yes, maybe you could have brought more to the table than the other performers, but let’s put things into perspective… the jazz fest is not about you. Quite frankly, many of the people (visitors and locals) that attend come for the international acts, not the local performers. Some travel from all over the world to come to Cayman to see these people perform.. in the same sense that music fans here travel abroad to see their favorite music artist. We don’t go to see the local acts but the artist  who’s album we can’t stop singing along with.

    It says you’ve performed at all of the past festivals. Perhaps since you’ve had this many opportunities, have worked the industry for so long and have established your career well you can gracefully step back and allow some of the other bands and artists who are still growing to seize this opportunity to further their own music career. There are 2 local acts this year who haven’t performed at the jazz fest before. Instead of focusing on your ‘snub’ – as you call it – you should feel proud in the local talent that was selected and that these are young musicians who are only living their dream and seeking the support of their fellow Caymanians.

    Something to think about…

  16. MB Ebanks says:

    Charles Clifford clearly does not have any interest in promoting talented Caymanians – even when they are professionals  in their own fields – professional boxer Charles Whittaker and now professional jazz musician Gary Ebanks.

    It reeks of a disgraceful "Uncle Tom" mentality which sees Caymanians undercutting each other like crabs in a barrel, every chance they get.

    Mr. Clifford has been an unmitigated disaster in office – nearly every project or action he has taken has been mired in controversy and scandal.

    *  Commission of Inquiry which found him guilty of wrongdoing, at great expense and international embarrassment to Cayman

    *  Port expansion project

    *  Gay kisser apology

    *  deliberate snub of professional boxer Charles Whittaker

    *  deliberate snub of professional musician Gary Ebanks

    Thank god elections are right around the corner so that we can revisit the idea of whether Clifford is the right man for this position – or even to be an MLA.


  17. MB Ebanks says:

    Absolutely preposterous and disrespectful move – shame on yout DOT.

    I will not be attending Jazz Fest in protest of the exclusion of a truly talented, professional local musician.

    I fully encourage other Caymanians to do so and to write to the DOT to make it very clear that we will no longer countenance this undermining of our talented Caymanians.

    MB Ebanks

  18. Anonymous says:


    "Smiling through the snub, however, Ebanks said that the most annoying thing about him not appearing this year was that the decision was made by a political figure that knew nothing about him or his music. "Lets face it, Charles Clifford (the Minister of Tourism) has never been to see us perform but he is making a decision on whether I should be allowed to play jazz or not,” Ebanks added."






  19. Anonymous says:

    Wasn’t it the same Charles Clifford that put Gary Ebanks on Jazz fest in 2005, 2006 and 2007?????.

    This makes absolutely no sense!!



  20. Anonymous says:

    Sad that such talent is not included. From one Baya to annudda: Gary, you d best, still!

  21. NorthSideSue says:

    “These things are important we need to ask ourselves who is the Jazz Fest for?


    It’s fairly obvious who the Jazz Fest is for.  The Department of TOURISM is running the show.

  22. Jedi Dread says:

    Isn’t that just typical for Cayman!?

    I’ve never seen a country so quick to burn their own..


    One of the burnt, who fled from all the Hate, Mischief and Jealousy, that is the essence of that country’s heart.

    Jedi Dread

  23. Anonymous says:

    I wll not be attending the Jazz festival this year.  This is a slap in the face to such a wonderful Caymanian musician….