Review: Bootsie’s Night Of Stars Event

May 2, 2023

[Written by Dale Butler]

Braxton Eugene Steede is a Bermudian celebrity who needs no introduction as a superstar with the Congas and guitar, and has played for numerous international stars. Dubbed by popular American singing star Melba Moore as “Bermuda’s natural resource,” Mr. Steede established a career in our local hotels and internationally and deserves the title Mr. Entertainer.

At the age of 82 he still ignites audiences whenever he enters the stage and flashes his signature smile. With an MBE under his belt and a Cultural Affairs Lifetime Achievement Award, he has a trunk full of awards and citations as one of Bermuda’s most loved, respected and revered performers. He deserves every single award—having spent over 60 years of being number one when it comes to first-class entertainment.

Those of us who have seen him dozens of times still enjoy his standard jokes and his new additions. He has retained an exceptional singing voice and his timing with jokes is always precise. Unfortunately, he was unable to be in attendance to accept The Trailblazer Award, but his son, the well-known writer and teacher Vejay Steede, shared with us an article he wrote about his father years ago which highlighted his enormous contributions to our culture.

Bootsie's Night Of Stars May 2023 Collage

The audience arrived for Bootsie’s Night of Stars at the Earl Cameron Theatre, City Hall, infused with excitement. The night began promptly and Bootsie, a protégé of Gene’s, once again showed us how he was also polished as an entertainer who used him as a role model. Bootsie’s standard “yes or no” kept the audience engaged, and his jokes prior to introducing the next act were timeless and delivered with perfection.

Like Gene, he has persona and both of them have a magic that raises your excitement and expectations the minute they walk on the stage. The entire show was a nonstop night of top-drawer entertainment:

  • Rickeesha Binns, in a white top and blue embroidered slacks, set the tone as a former Bermuda Idol [HOTT] winner with her words of encouragement and personal testimony: “If you survive it, thrive it.” She would have made the late Bermudian icons Celeste Robinson and Violeta Carmichael proud with her selections: “The Story I’ll Tell” and the “Goodness of God” by Shane & Shane. She has a phenomenal personality that magnetized the audience as she reached every register of her voice. Absolutely stunning performance!
  • Jonathan Young never fails to make people laugh and is one of my favourites. A veteran from the Friday Night Live Crew, he always brings a new batch of fresh jokes that relate directly to Bermudian life. A must see and hear.
  • Mitchell ‘Arijahknow Live Wires’ Trott is Bermuda’s number one tap dancer, with the performance skills of Bishop Caines, was backed by bassist Wency Woolridge. Live Wires gave us his original composition “Mercy & Grace” which allowed the audience to sing his popular song—recorded on the album “Reggae Highway [2015].” I even joined in the singing of his next song: “Reggae Highway.” It was inescapable. He has a strong stage presence, like Gene Steede.
  • Sidebar: Live Wires is about 6 feet 3 inches tall. As he left the stage, Bootsie, about 5 feet 3 inches tall, entered and when looking up at the height of the microphone, the audience went hysterical with laughter.
  • A new voice on the scene, Mone’ [Ayrielle LeGrande], a Bermudian CEO in Brooklyn, New York, was striking in black when she entered the stage. The audience was stunned into silence as she recited “Imperfect Vessel” which she wrote and delivered from memory, with excellent intonations. She asked “can I reach that finish line?” and stated “there is no darkness that can extinguish this light.” She recited only two poems, but could’ve easily spent the night as she had the audience spellbound.
  • Bermuda Idol 2023 runner-up Monroe Darrell excited the audience with “Georgia” from the album “The Genius Hits the Road.” He closed it out with the Frank Sinatra special “My Way,” which was also Gene’s closing standing ovation song whenever he performed.
  • Aalai, Bootsie’s daughter, was another show stopper with “Figures” by Jessie Reyez and “Throwin’ Up Strawberries” by Emmy Meli.
  • Jah, one of the “Two Fools,” used his perfect Portuguese accent during one of his funny jokes. His joke on bullying was outstanding as many in the audience were holding their side, and what he did with his father was a great punchline. Already a seasoned entertainer, he returned to the stage with short notice, only to show us he is still tops.
  • Gina ‘Love’ Davis admitted that if she sang people would ask for a refund. The only female comedian we have on a regular basis, when she started out telling us she had been cougar hunted she was at her best. Telling this older audience how night tables change as we age was brilliant as she connected in so many ways with them.
  • Royalty is a female singer who won the 2023 Bermuda Idol competition and sang “Run to You” by Whitney Houston from the movie “The Bodyguard.” Her second song was “Stand Up for Love” [2005 World Children’s Day Anthem], originally sung by Destiny’s Child. She has a very promising career, so look out for her name.

Another highlight was the very simple, but popular, song written and performed by Gene Steede: the Lindo’s Commercial, which Bootsie changed, stating in the new lyrics about Gene Steede “you probably won’t find him in any hotel or find him anywhere.” The audience became hysterical.

A beautiful glass award was given to his son for his dad, who was unable to attend. Educator and writer Vejay Steede read an article about his dad’s career which he published in the RG Magazine of February 13, 2023. For $30 we had been thoroughly entertained and educated. With descriptions from him of Gene as a “master entertainer with buckets of charisma,” Bermuda pride was glowing.

The night came to an end with none other than Lady Tyson, fresh back from the UK. She sang “A Change Is Gonna Come” by Sam Cooke [1963], “Young Hearts Run Free” composed by David Crawford and originally recorded by American soul singer Candi Staton in 1976, and “Last Dance” by Donna Summer.”

Bootsie should be commended for giving us a first class, seamless night with extra jokes every time he introduced an act. He has at least two performances of this calibre planned for the future and that is good news.

- Dale Butler is the Professor of Bermuda Music. Upon his return from the university in the UK in 1976 he has heard Gene Steede perform many times. With paper programmes disappearing it is critical that promoters attach a contact number to their digital posters so that he can ensure accuracy with the songs presented at such events.

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Category: All, Entertainment