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Dubai is the latest place Gavin Mendonca has taken Guyanese folk music – Stabroek News

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Folk musician Gavin Mendonca, who spends every chance he gets representing Guyana, did so last week on the grandest stage yet as part of the cultural contingent in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. He said it was the highlight of his career so far.
“The trip was amazing! It was an absolute privilege and honour to be selected as part of the cultural contingent representing Guyana on such a grand stage and at such an important platform as well where the whole world was watching us,” Gavin said. “And, to have also shared the experience with other young talented Guyanese artistes, dancers, painters… It was a really cool experience and kudos to the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports and Ministry of Tourism for putting together this particular contingent. It was a bunch of young fresh faces and all of us have been working hard our whole careers for these kinds of opportunities…”
Gavin is half of the duo, Gavin and Chucky where he sings and plays the guitar while fellow musician, Chucky plays the drums. He made the trip without his partner, but said Chucky was with him in spirit, as he took with him a recorded track of his bandmate playing the drums.
The team arrived in Dubai on October 16 and visited some of the 190-plus pavilions representing countries around the world as well as explored the sights. October 19 was the cultural presentation for Guyana Day, following which the 12-member cultural contingent participated in a parade where they shared Guyana flags to spectators. They also performed a medley at another event, Music in the Garden. Gavin, Samuel Medas, Poonam Singh, Tennicia Defeitas, Christian Sobers on guitar and Andrew Tyndall on the steel pans performed together. Preparing for the event allowed them to bond and have a great time jamming and learning each other’s songs.
In the Guyana pavilion, Gavin shared his folk music with visitors who welcomed his playing. The singer said while they did not understand everything he sang, they were able to connect with the rock music he incorporated into his presentations.
“From the smiles on their faces to them clapping along, I could see that they were happy to experience the new culture that I was sharing with them,” the musician shared.
Gavin also did an interview with Dubai 1 TV, which provided official coverage for the World 2020 Expo.
As regards the experience, Gavin shared, “We also had a lot of time to explore Dubai Expo which is huge. I didn’t even get to see all of the pavilions. They give us an Expo 2020 passport, which is like a novelty passport and you go around at the various sites to different countries/pavilions and have them stamp your passport. On my last day, I spent about four hours just walking around one part of the expo site and I got about 50 stamps from 50 different countries. I wish I could have gotten more but time was against me. There were some pavilions… like the ones for Dubai, Egypt and Saudi Arabia that were huge; they had like skyscrapers with different rooms.”
Gavin also reminisced about visiting the sand dunes in the desert, riding camels and enjoying traditional dishes.
The contingent left Dubai on October 20.
They did not all return to Guyana straightaway. Gavin, who is currently in New York, is spending some time there playing various gigs and open-mic nights at bars. Prior to his Dubai visit, he had been in the US collaborating with BRAATA Productions, a Caribbean cultural organisation where he was a guest performer at a folk concert in Brooklyn.
Since the beginning of his music career, Gavin has had numerous other opportunities like the Beijing Expo in 2019 where he also visited and played on the Great Wall of China; a concert in Brasilia, Brazil; the Rupununi Music Festival in Colombia; the UK, the US, Trinidad, Suriname and Barbados.
“I’ve been really fortunate to travel and take Guyanese folk music with me. In fact, I’m booked to perform at the Folk Alliance International Conference next February in Kansas City, US,” shared the singer. He first performed at the conference in 2019 when it was hosted in New Orleans.
Just before Dubai, Gavin and Chucky visited the Rupununi for eight days where they did a series of recorded concerts at Turtle Mountain, Iwokrama, Atta Lodge, the Canopy Walkway and Rock View Lodge that will be released over the next year. Their folk-up Christmas special which was recorded on Turtle Mountain will be the first to be released, in time for the holidays on their Facebook and YouTube accounts.
The recorded concerts are among the many projects Gavin and Chucky have embarked on. They also just completed their album ‘Folk It Up Volume 2’, which is set to be released early next year.
They are itching to return to performing outside and hope to soon return to performing live outside of Courtyard Mall.
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