Carnival Cruise Lines has its own successful way of doing things, which in this case involved creating a musical group called “The Hot Shots!” The word “Fantastic” comes to mind when thinking of this musical group! Each member auditioned separately at the Carnival rehearsal facility in Miami and then rehearsed as a group until they were ready for the big leagues aboard ship. Fortunately for me and my team, which includes Jorge Fernandez, a former guitar player from Cuba and now a top flight structural engineer in the Tampa Bay area, who helps me with much of my technical work; Lucy Shaw, Chief Copy Editor; Ursula Bracker, Proofer, and lucky me Captain Hank Bracker, award winning author (including multiple gold medals), were aboard the Carnival Legend and were privileged to listen to and enjoy, quite by chance, music that covered everything from Classical Rock, to Disco, to Mo Town and the years in between. Talented Judith Mullally, Carnival’s Entertainment Director, was on hand to encourage and partake in the music with her outstanding voice and, not to be left out, were members of the ship’s repertory cast, as well as the ship’s Cruise Director.
The popular Red Frog lounge on the Carnival Legend was packed to the point that one of the performances had to be held on the expansive Lido deck. However, for the rest of the nights, the lounge was packed with young and old, singing and dancing to “The Hot Shots!” - a musical group that would totally pack any venue in Florida.
Pheona Baranda, from the Philippines, is cute as a button and is the lead female singer, with a pitch-perfect soprano voice. Lucas Pedreira, from Argentina, is the lead male singer and guitar player who displayed endless energy and the ability to keep the audience hopping! Paulo Baranda, Pheona’s younger brother, plays the lead guitar to perfection and behind the scenes is the band’s musical director and of course is also from the Philippines. Ygor, from Israel, is the “on the money” drummer who puts so much into what he is doing, that at one point he hurt his hand, but refused to slow down. Nick is the bass guitar player, from down under New Zealand, and Marina, the piano and keyboard player, hails from the Ukraine.
As a disclaimer I admit that I hold shares in Carnival stock but there is nothing in it for me other than the pleasure of listening to this ultra-talented group which cannot and should not be denied. They were and still are the very best! However, I am sorry that just as a “Super Nova” they unfortunately can’t last. Their bright shining light is presently flaring, but this will only be for a fleeting moment and then will permanently go to black next year on January 2, 2020. That’s just the way it is, but my crew and I, as well as the many guests aboard the Carnival Legend, experienced music seldom heard anywhere, any longer…. It was a treat we will remember for years to come and we hope to see them again, as individual musical artists, or as perhaps with a new group sometime in the near future!