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Arts & Culture Last Updated: Feb 6, 2017 - 2:32:04 PM

T-Connection’s Reunion Concert Sold Out in ‘Paradise’
By Azaleta Ishmael-Newry
Jun 4, 2011 - 10:13:57 AM

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Nassau, Bahamas - “Yesterday is but today's memory, tomorrow is today's dream,” wrote the prophet Kahlil Gibran.  For fans of the legendary Bahamian group, T-Connection, they could not get enough of the band’s energetic and soulful mix of music at a live concert held on Friday, May 27, 2011 in Nassau, Bahamas. 
Theopolius Coakley sings (right). In the background are Pat Carey (left) and Les Falconer on drums. Photo by Azaleta Ishmael-Newry.

Set up for 1,700 people, just over 2,000 packed the ballrooms of the Wyndham Crystal Palace Resort and Casino moving to songs like, ‘Paradise,’ ‘Best of My Love’ and ‘Goombay Time.’ Dignitaries, Government ministers, business and community leaders as well as a wide cross section of Bahamians experienced a magnificent, non-stop show. Fans dream of another reconnection concert as this was the band’s second performance since disbanding in the mid-1980.  Previously, T-Connection performed at the Bahamas Independence Ceremonies in July 2003.

Berkley Van Byrd, an original T-Connection band member wows the crowd with his beautiful voice. Photo by Azaleta Ishmael-Newry.

Considered one of the most talented Bahamian songwriters, vocalist and keyboard player, Theopolius Coakley founded T-Connection in June of 1973, naming it after his favourite movie, “The French Connection.”  His brother Kirk joined on bass guitar and as back up vocalist.  Berkley Van Byrd came in on drums and back up vocals, Monty Brown on guitar and vocals and Anthony (Monks) Flowers on drums and percussion. Later, Freeport’s David (Dave) Mackey joined in on guitar in the late 1970’s.  Mackey wrote the song,  ‘Everything is Cool’ in the early 80’s that peaked at number 10 on the R&B chart and he also helped engineer the band’s final album, ‘Take It To The Limit.’  The group played until 1984 but constant air play of their music over the years kept their songs in the forefront including a 2002 compilation called ‘Classic Masters: Everything is Cool’ and a limited edition CD titled, ‘Totally Reconnected’ that was available at the concert.

At the T-Connection concert in Nassau, Bahamas, Les Falconer, right of California plays on drums while Anthony “Monk” flowers the original drummer and vocalist plays in the percussion section. Photo by Azaleta Ishmael-Newry.

The famous T Connection group was most known for their 1977 Grammy nominated hit ‘Do What You Wanna Do’ that was number 1 for 8 consecutive weeks. Other hits included ‘At Midnight’, ‘Saturday Night”, A Little More Love’ and ‘Girl Watching.’ The group had performed on popular TV shows Soul Train and American Band Stand and also performed on TV specials with the likes of Donna Summer, the Bee Gees and Village People.  They also found fame in the UK where they had a huge following and were on a UK TV show called “Top Of The Pops!”

T-Connection reunited in Nassau, Bahamas for a “Reconnection” Concert in May 2011. Shown in the photo from left to right: Steve Colebrook, Pat Carey, Kirk Coakley and Dave Mackey on guitar. Photo by Azaleta Ishmael-Newry.

In the early days, T-Connection played in Nassau and Freeport, reaching international fame. Later they moved to the US, playing in may States including at times joining with famous musicians like The Isley Brothers, (William Earle) Bootsy Collins and the Average White Band, another great soul and funk bank in the history of music.

Back Stage with T Connection. Front row from left to right: Byron Thompson, Anthony “Monks” Flowers, Cathy Ingraham, Capital Marketing, Monty Brown, Azaleta Ishmael-Newry, PR & Marketing consultant and Jay Mitchell. Back row from left to right: Kirk Coakley, Berkley Van Byrd, Dave Mackey (behind), Theo Coakley, Les Falconer, Steve Colebrook and Pat Carey. Photo by Ron Simms.

“T-Connection were way ahead of their time,” said concertgoer Patrina Farquarhson.  “People embraced them. In their day, they played Disco, Funk, Junkanoo, Jazz, R&B and Rock and they were just great!”

Honorary Consul of India, Ashish Sarif stopped in to enjoy the T-Connection “Reconnection” Concert in Nassau. Photo by Azaleta Ishmael-Newry.

Theo said that their music was unique because they blended the sound of Junkanoo and Goombay into their songs and that Monks, one of the greatest percussionists around, was the creator of the famous drum break that so many others emanated.

Other musicians who played with T-Connection from time to time were Pat Carey of Baha Men, Steve Colebrook who lives in Abaco and the dynamic Les Falconer of Los Angeles.  One of the reasons this particular concert was so spectacular was due to the fact that all of these great musicians were present at the 2011 Reconnection Concert.

T-Connection’s Andrew “Monks” Flowers impressed the audience with his master entertainment skills. Photo by Azaleta Ishmael-Newry.

Legendary and talented entertainer Jay Mitchell opened the evening’s show just as he did many years ago in Freeport in the Kiki Rouge Lounge which was later renamed “The Connection Room” after the group.

T Connection’s Theopoulis Coakley (left) and Jay Mitchell. Photo by Azaleta Ishmael-Newry.

Brought to Nassau by the Saint Augustine’s College (SAC) Class of 1971 committee, with the assistance of the Burns House Group of Companies and other sponsors, the T-Connection concert was a fundraiser event for the S.A.C. Capital Needs Projects, to assist SAC in its development efforts. Everyone was certainly proud of their hard work and rewarding efforts.  Committee members Wayde Christie, a banker said that organizing the concert was completely different from his banking career and Phil Galanis commented that they could not have had the success they did without the support of their sponsors who included Kerzner, Bahamasair, the Broadcasting Corporation of The Bahamas, The Nassau Guardian and Star 106.5 FM, Majestic Tours Ltd and others.

The Honourable Perry Christie (right) and his wife Bernadette enjoy the T-Connection “Reconnection” concert in Nassau. At left are Franklyn Wilson and his wife Sharon. Photo by Azaleta Ishmael-Newry.

Committee member Shelly Darville-Degregory was instrumental in securing a commitment from Theo Coakley. “I came because Shelley wouldn’t take “no” for an answer,” said Theo.  “She was very persistent in asking me to come back to Nassau to perform.” Both he, his brother Kirk as well as Les Falconer took a break from their active music careers in the US and flew in from California where they reside and work.  Kathy Davis-Ingraham of Capital City Market and Ronald Simms were part of the concert’s production management team and other committee members included Gregory Bonamy, Janice McKenzie-Weech, Anthony (Ace) Newbold, Marie Cargill, Judity Barnett-Adderley, Robert Bartlett, Fredrick Albury and Gertrude Richardson-O’Brien.

T-Connection band member David Mackey's soaring lead guitar riffs gets the crowd into it. Photo by Azaleta Ishmael-Newry.

“They still have it after all these years,” said a fan. “The show was absolutely fantastic and I certainly got my money’s worth!”

T-Connection played non-stop from their 10pm entrance with ‘Take it To the Limit’ that was written by Theo and Kirk Coakley.’ At midnight, they ended the concert with their famous song  ‘At Midnight’ but were called out for an encore to which they sang ‘Bahamian Rhapsody’ and ‘Best of My Love.’

DNA Leader Branville McCartney and his wife enjoy a special moment backstage Photo by Azaleta Ishmael-Newry.

Almost 40 years ago, the SAC Class of 1971 graduated from high school and chose to celebrate this 4-decade milestone by bringing T-Connection back to us. In two year’s time, T-Connection marks the 40th anniversary of their formation and perhaps we will be fortunate enough to experience another amazing “Reconnection Concert!”

©Azaleta Ishmael-Newry. June 2, 2011.  Azaleta Ishmael-Newry is a freelance writer and photographer.  If you are publishing this article, please note that full credit must be given to the author where she is listed as the writer of this article and photo credits are to be listed as Photos by Azaleta Ishmael-Newry or Photo: Azaleta Ishmael-Newry.  If you would like to use this article or a portion of this article on your website or medium, please seek permission from the writer at azaletaprm@gmail.com if you did not receive a personal email from the writer granting permission to print the article.  Thank you to Dave Mackey as well as Theopolius and Kirk Coakley for providing interview for this article.

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