October 17, 2012
New York pays tribute to Barkey
Dave Rodney, Contributor
"I spoke with Captain Barkey at 10:24 p.m. on Friday night, shortly after he landed in New York City from Milwaukee," veteran Jamaican reggae DJ, cable television host and New York resident Lloyd-D-Stiff recalled, his voice cracking with emotion as he replayed his last and final conversation with Barkey, a colleague he had grown to admire and respect for over 20 years.
Wayne Hamilton, 50, aka Captain Barkey, and a female companion, Tracy Bennett, 38, from Long Island, were fatally shot outside the inelegant Holiday Motel in the Bronx, New York.
Eyewitnesses who were guests at the hotel say Barkey was killed first. The gunman, who police suspect is Haitian kompa music promoter and businessman Joseph Kernizan, is alleged to have then turned his rage towards his beautiful wife, showering her with bullets, despite her pleas for mercy.
Lloyd-D-Stiff, who has had a number of local hit records and who attended City College of New York, says he first met Barkey many years ago at Music Master, a popular record store in Brooklyn, when they discovered they were dating the same girl.
A long-standing friendship developed as they shared a similar vision for the forward movement of reggae music.
"We spoke for over one hour the Friday, until 11:30 p.m., and in Barkey's usual upbeat, hilarious tone, he told me that he had come in to do a show," Lloyd-D-Stiff continued.
"We agreed to meet up in a day or two. Hours later, I was shocked to learn that my friend for over 20 years was dead, murdered in a parking lot of a Bronx motel, his body riddled with bullets," he lamented.
Lloyd-D-Stiff was one of Captain Barkey's many music industry colleagues, friends and fans who came out to the Dream Restaurant and Bar in Queens, New York, to pay tribute to the fallen dancehall soldier despite short notice and rain.
The gathering was an immediate and spontaneous response to the outpouring of grief, as news of the double murder verberated throughout the New York Tri-state region and across the Jamaican diaspora, was put together by Irie Jam Radio 93.5 FM in New York and IMAGES Media.
"We felt compelled to do this session on Monday night," Bobby Clarke, CEO of Irie Jam Radio told The STAR.
"Barkey was a close friend of the station. He has performed on our summer concert, Irie Jamboree, and he has also played in the Irie Jam celebrity soccer matches. He was an amazingly talented guy with a great sense of humour," Clarke stated.
Similar sentiments were expressed by station jock DJ Roy who incorporated tributes from callers and artistes into his Monday night radio show, and who raced back from the Irie Jam studios after his show to huddle with fans at the Dream Restaurant and Bar in Queens.
"This is a sad moment. I don't know the details of what exactly happened but I want to hail Captain Barkey for his contribution to our culture," Jamaican community leader and electoral hopeful in Queens, New York, Michael Duncan, declared.
Duncan chaired the proceedings for the evening, and tributes, some musical, some verbal, were offered by local entertainers Lloyd-D-Stiff, Chopper Ranks, Jah Jah Yute, Leighton Miller and others.
But despite the beautiful tributes and the kind words, lingering questions remained about the gruesome murder.
Friends wonder why Tracy Bennett, a beloved nurse at Winthorp University Hospital in Long Island, rated among the top five per cent of hospitals in the United States for clinical excellence, and the mother of two of Kernizan's kids, one seven and one 12, would leave the opulence of her plush suburban space to seek sojourn at a seedy hotel that was offering a three-hour US$40 special on Friday night.
Bennett is reported to have taken out an order of protection against Kernizan, who police describe as 5'5" tall, weighing 200 pounds.
Sources close to the Haitian community in New York say Kernizan was very well known in that community as both a music producer and a promoter who regularly threw successful parties.
"I am startled at how much the lyrics of his songs represent what was going on in his real life," remarked Claudette Harris, a Jamaican journalist based in New York.
Harris was making reference to two of Barkey's songs, Bun Fi Bun and Nah Lef Joe that both speak gleefully about infidelity in relationships and the dramas they bring.
In reference to the second song, the 2010 release, Nah Lef Joe, some reggae insiders feel the song is a bare-faced and defiantly Herculean taunt at Kernizan.
Those insiders say Bennett would never leave her husband, despite a reported five-year fling with Captain Barkey, a former Jamaica Defence Force soldier.
Others dismiss the inference as mere coincidence. Either way, one line in the song, 'Mi life done over bun' proved fatally prophetic.
In the aftermath of the tragedy, Barkey's Milwaukee-based wife Mavis Hamilton told a local newspaper she knew nothing of her husband's relationship with Bennett.
The grief-stricken hospital where Bennett worked is tight-lipped about events of the past few days. A source who wishes to remain unidentified confessed that there is emotional upheaval at the workplace due to the murder and some colleagues are choosing to get counselling as they try to make sense from Bennett's demise.
Irie Jam Radio has offered a US$1,000 cash donation to Captain Barkey's family and the station is urging others who are able to assist the family at this difficult time to do so. email@example.com