Rudder to the Bone

By Stephen Weir

David Rudder show at the CNE

Never mind the missing Hammer, where’s the Summer gone? The Toronto Ex was here and gone but not before David Rudder had time to put on a Trinicentric outdoor show that got old fans singing along and the young ones dancing up a storm.

All concerts at the Ex were free this year with the price of admission to the park.  As a result an estimated 5,000 fans came out to watch the only Caribbean headliner at the Ex this summer, Trinidad’s favourite son, King David Rudder.

This fan must have been in a hurry to catch the David Rudder show at the CNE last week in Toronto. Only had time to shave half his face but remembered to bring his Trini flag.

The 90-minute show included all of his hits and a new song too. In between the music he riffed on life in Trinidad (but we could still catch whiffs of his Canadian roots). Yes he sang T&T’s national anthem – Trini to the Bone – but it was a protest song that he recorded 20-years ago that had everyone on their feet.

It was the protest song “The Immigrants” that was inspired by the real life 1997 attack on Haitian immigrant, Abner Loima by New York Police. Still as meaningful today as it did back then, the Rudder piece was redone and rerecorded by Guatemalan singer, Gaby Moreno and American musician, Van Dyke Parks.  Their version won critical acclaim across the US after its release on July 4th 2018.

Good News about last week’s concert? It was a near perfect

Ozzie Gurley on keyboards and his band The Truth!

late summer night for enjoying a concert outdoor. Bad News? It was not a great night to perform at the band shell because the bright lights on stage attracted pesky flying insects. I thought King David was waving at me. Wrong, he was swatting at flies buzzing around his head. One of the horn players looked liked he’d swallowed a bee (probably just a mosquito).

David Rudder has been singing about the Caribbean experience for over four decades now. At the age of 66 he has begun to show signs of slowing down – he doesn’t move the way he used to. He seems content to stay rooted on the stage pointing out to his loving fans, or up to the heavens above. However his voice remains strong, Rudder’s pitch is perfect and his confidence in front of a packed house is masterful.

David Rudder

Although he has lived in Canada for many many years (Ajax to the Bone?) the show was all about Trinidad. The politics, the resilience of the people and the love that he holds true to his heart was what it was all about.