After serving for almost 20 years combined in both the Party Monarch and Barbados Festival bands, musician Mikey Hulsmeier and the National Cultural Foundation (NCF) have parted ways, unamicably.
Today, Hulsmeier was handed his official walking papers after publicly criticising the organisers and this year’s Sweet Soca judging panel via a series of posts this week on social media.
While not surprised by his sacking, Hulsmeier believes that it was his passion and desire to see the standard of music on the island improve that had landed him in hot water with the Crop Over organisers.
When contacted today, the Chief Executive Officer of the NCF, Cranston Browne confirmed the split but did not give a reason for it. He said every year members of the bands are changed and Hulsmeier “is no longer with the band for 2014”.
However, Hulsmeier, who told Barbados TODAY he had received a hand-delivered a letter today from the NCF informing him that his services would no longer be required, concluded that he was dismissed over comments he made on his Facebook page following last Friday’s Sweet Soca semifinals. The musician also referenced comments he made about the overall standard of music and culture on the island.
His removal has therefore not come as a surprise to him.
“This was pretty much expected,” he said in a Facebook post today, announcing that he had been given his walking papers.
“Maybe I pushed it too far, but hey! I was willing to put it all on the line for what I believe in,” he said.
“I bear no malice towards the NCF or anyone there. My posts are never meant to be personal but I am aware that through my total frustration that sometimes I may offend. Good luck to all the artists and artistes out there who are serious and have to suffer through the jungle . . . hope better comes some day. Peace!,” Hulsmeier wrote.
Earlier in the week, he posted that on Friday, July 4 the judges had committed to his mind, “one of the gravest acts of musical injustice in recent memory” at the the Sweet Soca semifinals.
“. . . as someone with more experience and accolades in this specific sub genre than the lot of them will ever dream of, I give them the lowest failing grade.
“In my opinion they should be stripped of their duties forthwith,” he said in his angry post, in which he accused the panel of leaving out one of “brightest sparks” for this year’s Crop Over season.
He also said he had contacted the producers of the show but it appeared they would rather “push it under the carpet” than deal with the situation.
“I am not one to complain about competition results. I don’t really care who wins,” Hulsmeier wrote. However, he said the panel had made a “terrible decision” and as a result “a very promising young talent could be tarnished after giving an above par performance on the night and deserving to be in the finals before most of the rest. That bothers me. Hence my anger.”
He continued with his tirade against the NCF and the judges, charging that “they would rather recycle the same average artistes year” or persons with “no star quality” and those who have “reached [the] pinnacle at the little Crop Over” instead of dealing with an issue, which he said “could greatly shatter the confidence of one of the most promising young ones”.
The musician for almost three decades, who has worked with a host of Barbadian, regional and international acts in further explaining his dismissal, told Barbados TODAY “I believe I said things they didn’t like and they decided to remove me from their stages – simple!
“But what I will say in a nutshell is that we settle for way too much mediocrity and there is still a lot of amateur mentality around the music and culture,” he maintained.