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Moonsplash in Anguilla
By Melanie Reffes

Easily recognized by his brown hat and laid-back vibe, Bankie Banx is one of Anguilla’s national treasures delighting crowds with his rockin’ reggae for nearly three decades. With twelve critically-acclaimed albums to his credit, this multi-talented dynamo is also the heart and soul of Moonsplash - the longest running independent music festival in the Eastern Caribbean and the island’s most popular event held every year under the full moon in March. This year it will be held March 17-20.

“Moonsplash is an intimate festival because our stage is a traditional Anguillan wooden boat.”  Bankie says, enjoying breakfast at the uber-luxe CuisinArt Resort, a festival sponsor. “I like to call our crowd a ‘salt and pepper’ audience because we get a great mix of locals and tourists of all ages.” Bankie Banx

The year 2010 marked the 20th anniversary for the reggae blow-out staged at Bankie’s beloved Dune Preserve Beach Bar, land his family has owned since he was a small boy. “We’d go to the beach to barbecue under the stars, roast corn and play the guitar” he smiles. “We’ve come a long way since then.”

Moonsplash 2010 rocked with reggae superstar Gregory Isaacs and favorites Marcia Griffiths and John Holt who returned to Anguilla to join the “Family Reunion” – the theme of the 2010 festival.

Over twenty years Moonsplash has attracted an A-list roster from Rita Marley and Peter Cetera to Buju Banton and Jimmy Buffett, who played to thousands during Moonsplash 2007.

“Bankie breathes life into Anguilla each and every Moonsplash” said Marie Walker, tourism director, North America, “While Anguilla continues to encourage the traveler in search of true respite, occasionally she throws in something extra spicy like our Moonsplash event to get the juices going.“

Born Clement Ashley Banks in 1953, his raspy baritone has been described as a cross between Bob Marley and Bob Dylan and his style a blend of folk, reggae, R&B and jazz. Affectionately dubbed the "Anguillan “Bob Dylan", he has performed with Dylan, toured with Jimmy Cliff and played benefit concerts with Paul Simon and Gloria Estefan. His first album, “Roots and Herbs”, hit the music world by storm and his twelfth CD, “The News”, is a popular download on iTunes and Amazon.com.

Following a tour that took him to clubs across the USA, Bankie is ready for Moonsplash 2011. “I’m proud of the festival because it boosts tourism, fills hotel rooms and ferries and gives plenty of work for our taxi drivers.”

In addition to music, Bankie is a champion of arts education and environmental preservation. Proceeds from his CD “Mighty Wind”, helped to rebuild racing boats destroyed by Hurricane Lenny in 1999. In 2005, he co-created Project Stingray which provides positive alternatives to crime and violence for local youth.

Putting Anguilla on the reggae map, Moonsplash is a musical mainstay on the March calendar for fans around the world.

“The Anguilla Tourist Board recognizes the importance of the Moonsplash Music Festival to the promotion of events on Anguilla” states Candis Niles, director of tourism. “We are proud to salute our musical icon, Bankie Banx, on the celebration of the 20th anniversary of this international Reggae event.”