Can’t say I had high expectations for the first Big Night in Little Haiti, a(nother) Knight-funded culture infusion produced by the Rhythm Foundation that I decided to go to last second and would have jilted for any this-or-that that presented itself. Set at the Little Haiti Cultural Center, billed as a bridge between a “beleaguered” neighborhood and Greater Miami, this thing had orchestrated fun (i.e., not fun) written all over it.
Turns out, it was the shit.
Pokito & Jean P Jam opened things up with a set of world beat music. (I don’t know what “world beat music” means, but that’s what Pokito calls it.) That was solid. But things really got good when a small woman in all white and a knotted headdress sang plaintively into the breezy dusk for an hour straight as dancers acted out a ritual I’m powerless to interpret or describe other than to say it involved draping a stricken child with a Haitian flag, fire eating (not to be confused with its less mind boggling cousin-feat, fire breathing), and a Lazarus-like raising of the dead of said stricken child, who I believe symbolized Haiti herself.
In a word, Vodou.
Eventually, a very full band — horns, percussion, bass, a guitarist named Buffalo, three torch-bearing backup singers — took the stage led by keyboardist and dreaded dynamo Rara Kuyu, who, at about five-foot-flat, successfully put the “Big” in “Big Night” with an hour of Caribbean-Afro fusion.
Perhaps too big. Big Night in Little Haiti is scheduled for every third Friday of the month, and it is hard to see how the next go-round will top the first. But after last night, I wouldn’t put it past La Petite Haïti.
Here are some photos from the event.