Making Kontact (for Crop Over)

Anthony_layne-450x300Donna Sealy features Anthony Layne, the bandleader of Kontact Band, a major presence in Barbados’ annual Crop Over festivities. She writes:

Crop Over means different things to different people. For some people it’s the drinks, the food, jumping for Foreday Mornin’ and Grand Kadooment. For others, it’s the pulsating music blasting from loudspeakers, the tents, lining the route watching thousands of gyrating bodies and the energy and positivity that abound. For Anthony Layne, the bandleader of Kontact Band, it is all of the above and then some.

Layne has been at the helm of Kontact (previously called Contact) for more than a decade. He and his team have a successful formula for putting a band with about 500 to 600 people on the road year after year [. . .].

“You’ve got to like it. You’ve got to love it. The first time I ever jumped, I jumped from the Stadium to the Garrison and form know that’s a long time ago. I liked [Kadooment] from then,” he said, as he chatted at the band house located in the historic Garrison area on a rather warm Thursday afternoon. “I project-manage the band; we have it set down. We know how it’s supposed to work like clockwork and we get it done. I manage the band on the road on the day. I don’t have time to dance on the road because I have to make sure our people have a good time and if there’s an issue I have to deal with it. “I like at the end when I’m in camp and the people are eating and they say, ‘Layne boy, I’m ready to sign up for next year. Gimme the form now’. That is my prize there, that’s what I win. That’s what keeps me going. Whether we win prizes, that’s icing on the cake but my real prize is the band members when they can tell you that they had a fantastic time,” he said.

That experience on the road means a lot to him and he’s always on the lookout for ways and partners to improve over the previous year’s experience. He and his executive team comprising Nigel Wellington, the band designer, Kathy-Ann Scott Blades and Sharon Niles, who handle the marketing, teased their social media followers from early November about changes. Then on Independence Day last year, they rebranded, changing the spelling of Contact to Kontact, followed by the costume launch on April 9.

[. . .] The costumes for this year’s band, themed Into The Bleu, celebrate Barbados and highlights some of the things that can be found in the tempting crystal blue waters. Pleased with the turnout at the launch where they showcased the front, mid, backline and four individual costumes, he is working with prospective revellers who face the “too much choice dilemma”.

“[. . .] To keep the costume prices reasonable so that the people who love to jump with you can afford to jump, that is a challenge as well,” Anthony said. Last year, the band, themed Evolution 4.0 Beautiful To See, copped “a second and a third” prize. [. . .] Whether I win or lose it doesn’t matter because I know it is a hard job,” Anthony stated.

Crop Over has just started but already Anthony and the team have their 2017 theme. “Right now, we’re in execution planning for Crop Over 2017. . . . We in Kontact Band run our own race. We don’t run a race with nobody else. We decide when we’re going to launch from the year in front, we work towards that date and we launch that date as we’ve got our reasons for launching that date,” he explained. [. . .]

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