March 6th, 2014

Junkanoo to showcase at St. Patrick’s Day Parade Savannah Ga.

13th -21st March, 2014

Barabbas and the Tribe Junkanoo and Community Organization is packing its bags once again to travel to the U.S. by special invitation in their official capacity to perform at the annual St Patrick’s Day Parades on Tybee Island and in Savannah, Georgia for the 10th consecutive year. 

The junkanoo presence at the event has become so popular that on March 18, 2011, Mayor Jason Buelterman of the City of Tybee, officially declared that date “Barabbas and the Junkanoo Tribe Day”, as evidenced by the attached Proclamation. In addition to the Proclamation, the group also received the key to the City of Tybee Island, and they have been made Honorary Deputy Sheriffs of Chatham County.

 Quentin 'Barabbas' Woodside being presented with the keys to the City and a Proclamation of same by the Mayor

Quentin 'Barabbas' Woodside being presented with the keys to the City and a Proclamation of same by the Mayor

It is estimated that the 2012/2013 parades hosted in excess of 500,000 spectators in Savannah, the second largest gathering in the United States outside of New York. The group’s performances were recorded and members were asked to sign waivers authorizing the Tybee Island Tourism and Promotion board to use the footage for their Tourism campaign. This commercial, featuring the Junkanoo performance along with celebrities such as Paula Deen; famed restaurateur and former Food Network star, can now be viewed nationwide in the US or by logging on to http://tybeevisit.com/

Leader of the group, Quinton ‘Barabbas’ Woodside stated: “It is amazing how many contacts we have made with persons from around the world just by throwing small business cards from the float in Savannah. Some of these persons request performances in their home state for events such as college fairs, best of the bands etc. In addition we get tons of requests for the recipes for the many tasty Bahamian treats that are prepared during the St. Patrick’s Day week.  The group has also become a regular part of the Sunday worship experience at All Saints Episcopal Church on Tybee Island where we perform during the service as well as afterwards at a hosted pot luck brunch by enthused parishioners.”

Barabbas also explained how this amazing cultural exchange has fostered positive tourism benefits for The Bahamas as well since visitors travel here as a direct result of seeing the parades in person, on You Tube or facebook and get in touch with the group. The junkanoo group has also been invited to be a part of and provide entertainment for visitor weddings held here in The Bahamas or have attended retirement parties of repeat visitors from the Georgia area, giving credence to the fact that junkanoo certainly has a role to play in enhancing the tourism product.

Undeterred and determined in their quest, this group of cultural ambassadors has its bags packed ready to travel and share their junkanoo passion with the world. To learn more, Quinton ‘Barabbas’ Woodside at (242) 356-5846 or email them at junkanooworld@aol.com

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2013 USA Press Release

September 12, 2013                                                                            

Rich Wittish: 'Heartbeat of the people' join Savannah St. Patrick's Day parade for ninth consecutive year

Posted: March 16, 2012 - 12:02am

By rich wittish savannahnow.com Copyright 2012 Savannah Now. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Rich Wittish: 'Heartbeat of the people' join Savannah St. Patrick's Day parade for ninth consecutive year

‘Heartbeat of the people’ joins parade for ninth consecutive year

My favorite entry in tomorrow’s St. Patrick’s Day parade is a musical group whose members don’t wear a lot of green and don’t play bagpipes.

Heck, they’re not even Irish. (Oops. I forgot — everybody’s Irish on St. Patrick’s Day in Savannah.)

Anyway, my favorite entry is this group whose 20-plus members aren’t Celtic but who embody the Irish propensity for merrymaking on the Big Green Day. It’s Barabbas and the Tribe, a Junkanoo band from the Bahamas, and they’ll be carrying on and making their joyful noise in the parade for the ninth consecutive year.

Clad in outlandishly colorful, mummer-like costumes and playing an aggregation of animal-skin drums, cowbells, scrapers, mouth whistles and well-used brass instruments, the Tribe and its leader, Quinton “Barabbas” Woodside, are impossible to ignore when they’re on the march — which they call “rushin’.”

Their music — described by Barabbas as “up-tempo” and “coming from an African tribal beat” — is like an aphrodisiac for your feet. You can’t keep still while Barabbas and his tribesmen are gyrating by.

“Our music makes a sad moment happy in a second,” said Barabbas, a lifelong resident of the island of Nassau who turns 50 later this month. “Even if you’re angry, you’ve got to move.

“It’s the heartbeat of the people.”

The Tribe’s numerous appearances in St. Patrick’s parades in Savannah and on Tybee Island are due to the efforts of Jack Flanigan and his former wife, Belinda, who own the Crab Shack restaurant on Tybee.

Jack met Barabbas some 12 years ago while Flanigan was at the Atlantis resort near Nassau “looking for Bahamian music to put into CDs.” Jack discussed his quest with a bartender at the resort who happened to be Woody Woodside, the brother of Barabbas.

“I met Woody, and he took me to Barabbas,” Jack said. “We became friends,”

Ten years ago, Belinda brought Barabbas and some of his musicians to Tybee for Jack’s birthday, which is in August.

“We told them, ‘Ya’ll need to come for St. Patrick’s Day,” said Belinda, “and they’ve been coming for nine years.”

During their visits, the band performs nightly at the Crab Shack. This time around, Barabbas and the Tribe arrived on March 9, went rushin’ the following day in Tybee’s St. Patrick’s Heritage Celebration parade, and will be on the island through this Sunday.

Their shows at the Crab Shack, in the form of extended marches throughout the restaurant, take place at 6 and 8:30 p.m.

Junkanoo began in the 17th or 18th century when British planters in the Bahamas gave their slaves a few days off during Christmastime. The slaves made costumes and celebrated with dancing and music harkening back to their west African roots. Many sources trace the origin of the term Junkanoo to a slave leader named Johnny Canoe.

These days, Junkanoo festivals are held on Nassau and other islands on Boxing Day — the day after Christmas — and on New Year’s Day. Numerous groups of as many as 1,000 participants march during the festivals, competing for cash prizes.

Quinton “Barabbas” Woodside was introduced to Junkanoo at the age of 4 when he “got in the way” of cousins making costumes. They put him “in a corner,” where he helped in the work.

“I was 7 or 8 when I started making little plastic drums and marching up and down in the yard,” he said.

He joined a junior Junkanoo group and eventually, as an adult, wound up in leadership roles with several prestigious Junkanoo organizations.

In 1998, he formed Barabbas and the Tribe, a relatively small group that doesn’t compete, performs for special events and draws many of its members from the larger Junkanoo outfits.

Woodside also founded and operates Junkanoo World Museum, a cultural arts center on Nassau, where he fosters community-service projects involving young people working with the elderly and the disabled.

In case you’re wondering about his unique nickname, it stems from his younger days as a hotel busboy. He was assigned to a specific waiter but often went to work early and helped other servers set up their stations. One day his waiter, needing help, yelled “Give me Barabbas!” — a reference to Gospel accounts involving the execution of Jesus Christ and the pardoning of a criminal named Barabbas. Those accounts state that a crowd chose the criminal over Jesus by calling out “Give us Barabbas!” Rich Wittish can be reached via email at rwittish@bellsouth.net

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