LOCAL musician Gavin Mendonca, even in lockdown, continues to fan the flames of his passion for music and the arts. Conceding his inability to be stuck in one place, the lockdown certainly took its toll until Gavin realised that he needed to take full advantage of the network he has developed over the years and begin participating in virtual concerts that were being organised worldwide.
His latest virtual 30-minute international performance was on the Muzikstan Festival, where he performed with other artistes from the United States and the United Kingdom. The concert streamed live on Facebook.
So far, Gavin has participated in a number of virtual concerts locally, and Muzikstan was his second international one. “It’s been strange. Definitely not the same as a live audience but while the energy of people in the same space is missing, it’s nice to know that now even more persons can tune into live virtual concerts from anywhere in the world,” he commented during an interview with The Buzz.
He spoke about his continued interest in the preservation of traditional music. “In many cases, world music and folk music are always left on the back burner in terms of being appreciated, but hopefully, more and more digital platforms can help increase the presence of traditional music and garner more appreciation from the masses.”
Muzikstan promotes and manages a once-monthly music platform embracing performers from the UK, Kurdistan, Iraq, Syria, Iran, India, Ukraine, Senegal, Zimbabwe, Guyana, Egypt, Ethiopia, etc. It also works to support organisations that promote peace and support refugees and migrants. Due to the Coronavirus Pandemic, Muzikstan is running its sessions globally online biweekly.
On March 1, Gavin came home from a six-week tour that saw him taking Guyanese Folk Music to Folk Alliance International’s 32nd annual conference in New Orleans, where he was the first Guyanese to participate.
He then made his way to Full Sail University in Orlando where he made several presentations on the importance of cultural preservation. Finally, he went to New York City where he celebrated Guyana’s 50th Republic anniversary with the Guyanese Consulate and the Guyana Cultural Association of New York.
“So many doors were opened during that time, that I had already made arrangements to do a ‘Folk Up Yuh Summer Tour’… starting at a folk festival in Michigan, and leading me to Caribana in Toronto. I had so many plans and ideas to think about and implement, at home and abroad,” he said.
But the pandemic got in the way of it all. “March 2nd was elections; the country’s morale started to decline. Just a few days later, the corona pandemic made its way to our part of the world. Slowly but surely, lockdown measures started to kick in.”
The reality of the lockdown started to kick in, and at first, Gavin felt drained and depressed. “In my mental turmoil, I realise that it is actually the perfect opportunity to just let go; to start anew. So I immediately turned to gardening in my backyard. And now, 10 weeks later, I harvest my own pakchoi, ochro, corilla, pumpkin, bora, ginger and a whole lot more coming like tomato, cucumber, squash, passion fruit, peppers, etc.”
“I have since started to feel a lot more motivated and instead of forcing myself to produce content, I have taken a very laid back approach. Now I can sit with my guitar for hours (in my garden) and just play. My guitar skills and techniques have improved exponentially,” Gavin expressed.
He was also inspired to begin creating videos called the ‘LackDung Sessions’ where he plays folk songs in his garden. These videos can be viewed on his Youtube Page (@CreoleRock).