20 Years and Still Going with the Phlo

Source – Sunday Guardian
Published – Sunday, November 18, 2012
Writer – Peter Ray Blood

H2O Phlo began in 1992 when four guys—Roland Rocke, Jason “Fridge” Seecharan, Keston Rosales and Junior Nelson—blessed with beautiful voices, came together to form a quartet. Twenty years later, with the departure of Rocke and his replacement Audie Hewitt, the group now comprises three members and has grown in strength and stature.

Come November 28, H2O Phlo will celebrate its two-decade anniversary with a gala concert at Queen’s Hall, St Ann’s, titled This Christmas….A Christmas Story. The production will be on again November 30 at the auditorium of Naparima Boys’ College in San Fernando. Showtime is 8 pm both days.

H2O Phlo is now managed by Gabriel Bernard, a veteran promoter and musician. “The past 20 years has been a learning experience, half good, half bad,” said Rosales. Nelson chimed in, “It all boils down to decisions, some good, some bad. But, at the end of the day, you learn and gain experience. It has been a good ride.”

H20 Phlo has produced five albums in 20 years, its first being a Christmas album, produced by Johnny Gonzalves and Richard “Cha Su” Ahong. It also featured David Rudder, Michael “Zoom” Salloum, Nigel Ferreira, Tricia Lee Kelshall, Ghetto Flex, Nigel Soyer and Silver. Subsequently, with the same producers, another CD was created, simply titled H2O Phlo.

Nelson said the two albums garnered local popularity for the group; however, the single A Little Closer was really the release which brought them widespread recognition, both locally and internationally. “This one caught the attention of Atlantic Records,” said Rosales. “Atlantic Records wanted the single for a James Bond movie but things didn’t come through. A Rupee song was used instead.”

Rosales said internationally they also opened for two NBA games in New York, for the 76ers and New Jersey Nets. Nelson said, “An audition was held to scout talent for opening NBA games. Over 300 singers and groups were auditioned and we were chosen. We did an a cappella version of A Little Closer and we ripped it up.”

This past year, beside completing another album—We’ve Got It Covered—Nelson said they have been creating shows. “We did the Michael Jackson tribute last year August at Napa. Now we have this year’s Christmas show, which is not just merely a concert, but a cabaret. Aside from H2O Phlo, the cabaret will also feature Marie Carter, who now sings with us, as well as Baron, Scrunter, Laureston Special, Nisha “Justis” Guy, Raymond Edwards, Rembunction, CAL Invaders. Musical accompaniment will be by 2G, of which Cha Su, our producer, is the musical director.”

Rosales said the show is all about lights, cameras, action…and it’s very Broadway style. “We’ll have lots of costuming, props, state-of-the-art lighting. We intend touching on four different decades of Christmas—the birth of Christ (the birth of Christmas actually); Christmas in Trinidad back in the day; Christmas abroad to a Trini; and, we return home to the fun of a Trini Christmas.”

It’s the first time Trinis would see actual snow falling in Queen’s Hall and down south by Naps, Rosales said. “Looking ahead, we have a lot of blueprints and plans for 2013 which we cannot reveal right now, but we’ll be even more active than we have been this year.