SLICE OF BAJAN LIFE: First rate lime
The mix of the crowd, the relaxed mood and the sweet, rhythmic music stood out as we ventured along First Street, Holetown, St James, on Friday night nearing the midnight hour.
The music flowing from inside the Mews Restaurant & Bar was an attraction in itself, and we found ourselves on the inside almost involuntarily. There, tucked unobtrusively in a corner, was a band of three singing harmoniously.
We quickly recognised Michael Welch on keyboards and vocals as a longstanding music professional who had been performing on the hotel and restaurant circuit for over 20 years.
The power-packed women who carried the sway up front were Kayrie Hewitt and Cathy-Ann Payne.
We had encountered Payne on another of our trips to the eastern end of the country; so we chose to speak to Hewitt, who appeared quite effervescent and fully accomplished in her singing.
She explained that she had been singing at the Mews for three years and that most of her performances had been relegated to the tourism sector.
She also noted that she had performed at nearby Mango Bay and Coral Reef as well as the Sea Breeze and the Escape hotels.
Hewitt’s specialty was rock and reggae, while her accompanying singer, who is usually Cathy-Ann Charles, would sing R&B and “back in time”. Payne was therefore standing in for the other Cathy-Ann – both products of the Richard Stoute Teen Talent Competition.
“They call me the ‘Bajan Jill Scott’,” Hewitt said. Among other things, she told us that she was being managed by United States-based Barbadian Peter Headley in association with Barry Knight. Headley is also managing outstanding jazz pianist Miles Robertson, son of the late Janice Millington and Raf Robertson.
Dinner had, as expected, been concluded when we arrived, but some patrons remained in the well appointed rooms upstairs, quietly conversing.
The action was confined to the bar downstairs where hardly any space was available to move freely. The bar men were, however, keeping their patrons happy. Owner Chris Hoad was as professional as ever as he kept a watchful eye on proceedings while ensuring his clientele was treated with excellence.
Having run this business at Holetown for 12 years now, he seems to know his clientele extremely well and engaged them naturally. Hoad would have acquired much of his people skills as a cricketer for Pickwick and as a sailing and boating enthusiast in more recent years. Team spirit is the order of the day for him.
One of the patrons who was highly complimentary of the establishment was Jean Hill, a former Sandy Lane employee. With an eye for quality service, she readily proclaimed that Chris and his team were on par.
Visitors who were thronging the Mews or stood on the outside chatting were all in high spirits. Robert Totah, a Barbadian by birth but who emigrated at age seven, was back in Barbados for the first time and accompanied his host Mark Parris. He was all praises not only for the Mews but for the island.
Sarah Hamilton of the Bahamas and Edward Pasquins of New Zealand were also ecstatic about the Mews.
Some of the patrons enjoying the ambience on First Street were former Senator Arni Walters, Senator Peter Gilkes, Courtesy Garage manager Nicholas Mackie, and former Barbados cricket captain and now West Indies selector Courtney Browne.