Mélange Travel & Lifestyle Magazine April 2016 - Page 88

Andy “Laykay” Purcell Hermitage Shortknee Band Leader and Calypsonian Let us introduce Andy “Laykay” Purcell, a resident of Hermitage and the leader of the Hermitage Shortknee Band. Scared but also intrigued as a child, he watched his older brother “play” Shortknee and was determined to overcome his fear one day, and get involved. This he did in 1985 at the age of 15 and a short while later in 1988, he became the Band’s leader. His is one of many Shortknee bands on the Island, but as Andy and the other members will be quick to tell you, theirs is the best. In 2008, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013 and 2014 they captured 1st place in the Shortknee Band Category during the Carnival competition. Alas, in 2015 they placed 2nd, losing to the St. Johns, St. Andrew’s Band (they also took 2nd place in 2011). But they are not deterred, Determined to re-capture the title in 2016, Andy will again rally his troops and begin the process for this year’s competition. Members come from Hermitage, the neighbouring villages, other 84 Caribbean Islands like Trinidad and as far away as the USA and Canada. Due to their popularity, no recruitment drive is needed as people gravitate to the band all on their own. Enquiries pour in from all over as this colourful, cultural expression expands throughout the Island. Andy explained that many young people are now getting involved, with over 40 active participants, some as young as 2 years old. It is also not only reserved for men as there are now over 16 ladies in the band. Maximum band size is 150 and sadly, some are turned away because they’ve reached their maximum capacity. While additional costumes are being sewn for new members, songs are written for the competition. The lyrics of these songs contain pieces of local village gossip. It is said that one should live pristine lives all year round, being careful of watchful eyes and sharp ears.