World-class music and comedy amid eye-catching art installations. Mouth-watering cuisine and libations. The stage is set to welcome the world to KAABOO Cayman.
The two-day arts and entertainment experience presented by Dart in partnership with sponsors Virgin Produced and Digicel promises an exceptional music, art, comedy and culinary experience as well as a unique platform to showcase local talent and Cayman culture.
As host for KAABOO’s inaugural Caribbean event, Dart expects the upscale festival will attract new visitors to the island.
“KAABOO’s target audience closely aligns with our tourism market,” says Mark VanDevelde, CEO of Dart Enterprises. “The intent is for KAABOO to be an annual event, bringing new visitors to our shores every year.”
“We share the vision of establishing KAABOO Cayman as the Caribbean’s premier entertainment event, putting Cayman on the map for sophisticated music and art lovers,” says Jason Felts, KAABOO Chief Brand Officer and Virgin Produced CEO.
For some of the KAABOO Cayman artists and performers, they share a deeper connection to Cayman beyond the opportunity to help make this a unique festival.
Transviolet’s Sarah McTaggart
For Caymanian Sarah McTaggart, lead vocalist and lyricist of alternative rock band Transviolet, the opportunity to play at KAABOO is a welcome homecoming to the place where she first started performing.
“I was over the moon with excitement when we were asked to join the [KAABOO] line-up,” says McTaggart. “I’m getting emotional just thinking about it now… it’s so amazing to be performing back in Cayman.”
McTaggart recalls her decision to pursue a career in music and reminisced about performing at some of Cayman’s local bars and clubs.
“I remember getting paid $100 to play for 45 minutes at Havana Club (a popular local bar and lounge), and I performed at a number of other locations like Royal Palms [and others],” says McTaggart.
McTaggart’s ties to Cayman run deep, and span across multi-generations of a musically inclined family: a father who’s a local folk singer, an uncle who’s the drummer in a local band (also performing at KAABOO Cayman), and a great-grand aunt who wrote the Cayman Islands’ National Song.
Besides the opportunity to join a talented music lineup, KAABOO will also reunite McTaggart with Cayman family. “I’m excited to see my family while I’m in Cayman for the festival,” she says.
Alonzo Bodden, a renowned comedian featured on the Humor Me stage lineup, is someone whose last name is easily recognisable in Cayman.
Bodden recalls stories his family told him about his Caymanian ancestors, and how his name originates from the settlers whom the local district Bodden Town is named after. “I asked my mom if we had land [in Cayman], she said we did until an uncle swindled a great-grandparent and sold it! Family, right?” he joked.
His father’s family relocated from Cayman to Honduras before moving to the United States, but Bodden is no stranger to these shores. When offered the opportunity to return and perform at KAABOO Cayman, Bodden first did his research. “I wasn’t familiar with [the festival] but if you ask me to go to Grand Cayman in mid-February the answer is YES!” says Bodden. “I researched [KAABOO] and it’s very cool to be a part of this”.
One of Cayman’s well-known local visual artists, Kaitlyn Elphinstone expressed her interest to the KAABOO team when she first learned about the event coming to Cayman. Not only was she able to secure a spot on KAABOO Cayman’s Artwork line up, but she also made her KAABOO debut in California, USA, at the 2018 Del Mar festival.
“Exhibiting at KAABOO Del Mar was an amazing experience and I'm looking forward to doing it all over again at KAABOO Cayman,” says Elphinstone. “It is an excellent platform to showcase work to a large number of visitors, which has the potential to lead to new collaborations and opportunities.”
The artwork she will have on display reflects the influences she’s noted in Cayman’s culture and history. “[My works] explore our complex, connected history and mimics the cultural impact our society plays on our seascapes, specifically the value we place on our coastlines.” Elphinstone believes her artwork will be successful if someone is able to appreciate its beauty and connect with the underlying message it shares of Cayman.
It’s no small feat to be the festival opener of the inaugural KAABOO Cayman, something that local musical artist Rico Rolando is grateful for. “It feels great to be the opening act for KAABOO”, says Rolando. “It definitely adds a lot of pressure to my set and I’m thankful for the opportunity.” As a crowd favourite at KAABOO Discovers – an audition held for local artists to secure a spot on the music line-up, it was no surprise when Rico Rolando was announced as one of the winners.
His interest in music began at the age of 12 when he started to sing. Since then, he has opened for a number of international artists at events in Cayman. “KAABOO will definitely benefit local artists and it’s something they should be a part of”, says Rolando. “I’m super privileged to be representing Cayman on this huge platform that KAABOO is giving us.”
Cayman is a permanent part of the history and inspiration for some of the festival’s performers and artists that audiences look forward to enjoying. It will also make for a wonderful memory or potential home for the thousands of visitors travelling to the islands for the festival.