Home / View Point / Letters to the Editor / St Bernard: “Transformative, uplifting, enjoyable”—why Kees is my King of Soca

St Bernard: “Transformative, uplifting, enjoyable”—why Kees is my King of Soca

You don’t have to put anyone down, to elevate another. Kees Dieffenthaller, is my current ‘King of Soca’.

I came to that conclusion after watching Kes The Band perform the full spectrum of soca music for one hour. Nothing but soca!

Photo: Kees Dieffenthaller from Kes The Band performs at a soca fete.
(Copyright Sean Morrison/ Wired868)

Kes had the largest turnout, about 22,000, at the recent three day Caribbean music event on the beaches of Atlantic City, New Jersey.

Not once did Kees say: “raise yuh hand”, or “take a jump”. It was just music.

Individual solo bridges by the band members. No old talk between songs. No questions for the crowd to respond to. Just musical soca hits with nice transitions between songs. 

Unlike the majority of current soca bands, who only do their own songs—regardless of how unpopular some of their own songs are—Kes was repping the best of soca and winning the hearts of the massive crowd of second and third generation Caribbean people, most of them born in the United States.

Photo: Kees Dieffenthaller in full flight with Kes The Band.
(via Kes The Band)

Kees dropped the musical tempo and did Magic, a song he has with Jimmy October, telling his audience this is calypso and calypso music. The audience of predominantly 19-35 year olds, raised their hands in appreciation. 

He followed up with a taste of Lord Nelson and Kitchener’s music. People lapped it up.

Kees demonstrated he can get the audience to jump, prance and wave without asking them to do so. Voice’s Out and Bad and his road march Stage Gone Bad sent the same crowd that was just grooving, into something a Trinidad Carnival Tuesday frenzy.

I saw Kes perform to a similar size audience in Brooklyn for Labor Day 2021. It was transformative, uplifting, enjoyable and the talk of Brooklyn for the summer of 2021—but that was Kes The Band and all the top soca acts.

Photo: Trinidad-born US hip hop star Nicki Minaj (centre) poses with soca stars Machel Montano (left) and Kees Dieffenthaller.
(via Nicki’s Instagram)

I was specifically interested in seeing if Kes the Band could have the same effect with an audience that was not mostly Trinidadians in the diaspora. I wanted to see if Kes the Band could hold an audience without the other soca stars making appearances.

In this event, Kes the Band was the headliner. No other act was advertised. A one song cameo by Nailah Blackman, did not take away from what was a Kes solo performance in front of the diaspora of mostly Jamaicans, Guyanese, Haitians, and mixed Caribbean heritage. The Trinis there were proud to see our soca and calypso music totally embraced.

The audience enjoyed every minute. Not a person left until Kes was done. 

I’m handing the crown to Kees!

Photo: Giddem Kes!

About Eric St Bernard

Eric St Bernard
Eric A St Bernard is a host and producer of Global Soca on TeamSoca.com, the #1 Total Soca station in the world. He holds a MSc in TV/Radio from Brooklyn College and has worked extensively in Caribbean music formats in Trinidad and New York, as well as events promotions and media advertising.

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