Oh, Look Wha Ya Do To Me

That wasn't what the concert was called, but it should've been.  Because if anybody doubted that we Bahamians have a lack of love for our country or our icons, last night's event -- entertainment maestro Ronnie Butler's farewell concert -- proved them wrong.  I'm not going to say all that much.  This isn't going to be a review or anything -- rather it's a meditation, an homage, perhaps, to the artist who, with his (late) contemporary Tony "Exuma the Obeah Man" McKay and his mostly retired contemporary Patrick Rahming, formed the triumverate that not only peopled my adolescence, but helped define my place in this country inscribed for visitors according to the imagination of the northlands.  There were others, too, like Eddie Minnis and the Erics (King Eric Gibson and his songwriter, our family friend Eric Minns), but their careers, unlike Tony McKay's and Ronnie Butler's were circumscribed.  And of them all only Ronnie is still singing.Or was.  This year, he decided, it seems, is his last active year.  He is retiring.  He's kicking back and relaxing (hahaha).  And so last night, he gave his farewell concert.If you're in doubt about Bahamians' lack of pride in our culture, you shoulda been there.  There was of course the moment when the hotel staff began moving everybody forward, adding extra rows of chairs at the back of the ballroom.  Then there was the moment when, after introductory music all through the early part of the evening, Ronnie made his appearance and the dance floors filled up.  There was the general politeness of the crowd, the bonhomie, the genuine love in the room.  There was the moment Eddie Minnis came out of his self-imposed twenty-five year retirement to sing three songs that everybody knows but which are so much a part of the national imagination that they seem to be unwritten -- "Mike", "Naughty Johnny", and "Ting and Ting", all linked together by patter that worked in the titles of Ronnie's songs.  And then there was the moment when Chickie Horne, the female impersonator who was once a staple of Bahamian night life, came out and performed -- at 82.And then there was Ronnie.And all I can say is oh, look wha ya do to me.Yeah.