So It Go
We’re taking our time in the Caribbean writing our musical history .
Sometimes, in the everyday course of life, an interaction comes along, out of the blue, that is unusual and startling and revealing all at the same time .
I have previously mentioned that when I meet Guyanese during Tradewinds performances overseas, they are often curious to get a read on “life in Guyana” from someone who has relocated there, and their tendency is to grill me who is not seen as an establishment person who might be inclined to gild the lily .
Opinions will differ as to what is the most important quality God gave man for coping with life .
The curtain is only just down on the recent Limacol Caribbean Premier League cricket tournament, enjoying sold-out games and strong sponsorship, and here comes the usual wailing in the press about the demise of cricket propelled by the T20 .
Every time I go away to play to audiences outside I hear from Guyanese in the diaspora on the coping-with-life-in-Guyana question .
I’m writing this in Toronto a few hours after a concert at the Richmond Hill Centre for the Performing Arts, designed to help raise funds for the Burn Care Unit at our Georgetown Public Hospital .
A recent note from a Tradewinds fan about the design of a particular album cover took me back to the time I had begun recording with the band in Toronto in the late 1960s .
As Guyana’s interest in tourism appears to be gaining momentum, it is useful to reflect on the development of that sector in two Caribbean countries – St Vincent and the Cayman Islands – that moved into tourism at approximately the same time in the 1960s .
I always travel with a little scribble book where I make notes to myself (books or CDs to get; observations; a reminder to me or to a friend, etc) and browsing through it recently I found the following reference to an incident that had completely left my memory .
First of all, “the book” is ultimately not about Guyana .
(This column originally appeared in the ‘Caricom Review Magazine,’ July 2013)We have been at it as far back as 1921, when the Jamaican legislature saw a motion to ask the British Colonial Office to consult the other islands on the idea of a federation – this notion of regional unity, that is .
Barely a month passes in the English-speaking Caribbean without a reference on some stage or in some letter or political speech to the deleterious effects of colonialism upon us .
Most of the truly riveting or memorable things we’ve seen reside in still photographs that freeze a fleeting moment and hold it for us forever .
It is often the case in life that you see absurd behaviour taking place and you immediately know the reason; like a driver running a red light at full speed .
Airline travel these days is often a taxing and frequently painful experience .
There is a Guyanese organisation in Toronto called the St .
I get a modest monthly American Federation of Musicians Union pension cheque which I deposit in the bank here, but it takes 30 working days, yes 30, for foreign cheques to clear (money laundering; fraud, etc, is the reason you’re given) which means, taking in weekends, foreign holidays and ours, that it’s actually closer to 45 days .
I’ve mentioned before that we don’t need to wade through reams of data or voluminous comparisons to reach some basic conclusions on seemingly complex matters; that we can often get a clear and almost instantaneous insight on these issues from indicators staring us in the face .
A friend of mine, who knows I love Martin Carter, alerted me to a recent letter in the press by Ruel Johnson that contained a poem by Martin apparently written in the dark days of our suspended constitution .
During Mashramani this year, my friend Vibert Cambridge and his New York-based Guyana Cultural Association (GCA) organised a Masquerade Band competition on a Saturday morning in Victoria .
You’re going to have to stay with me on this one; it’s quite an experience .
The information from daily reportings of various traumas in a country, whether from government actions or personal behaviours, can become a surround creating a feeling of hopelessness in the citizens .
We have a number of folks with very perceptive eyes writing columns or letters to the press on a daily basis pointing out various traumas or irregularities in the country .
It’s not on the main road, so you can drive by it every day and not know it’s there, as thousands do .
It happens without fail: every time I come or go from our major airport at Timehri, I’m caught up in a memory of the time in the mid-1950s when I worked there as a youngster .
From a youth in Saints, dealing with Mr Singh and Mr Stanley Fernandes who taught us English, I was drawn to the intricacies of words and the shades of meaning that one could extract merely from word choice .
Somewhere in the early ’80s, Tradewinds came to Guyana to take part in Mashramani with a substitute bass player, Burman Scott, from Cayman .
When I lived in the Cayman Islands, I became friendly with a young businessman there largely based on our interest in Caribbean culture, personalities, social movements, etc .
Guyana is up in arms this week over news that the Chinese are building a Marriott Hotel here but not employing any Guyanese in the construction work, and that we’re also going to have a Chinese TV channel; yes, Sumintra, a Chinese TV channel in Guyana .
In recent weeks, probably propelled by fading hopes for “a new day” with our new Parliament, we have seen some stirring letters to the press citing Guyana’s diverse difficulties and calling for the citizenry to become more socially active .
In just a few months from now, the regional airline LIAT will begin using the expanded facilities at Ogle Airport ferrying passengers to and from the Caribbean .
Anyone who knows anything about my work in music will know of my commitment to Caribbean dialect .
On civic matters in Guyana, while there are often opportunities for discussion or exchange, we have a marked tendency to eschew that route and simply make pronouncements .
Wherever we happen to live, our end-of-year diversions usually include the media interest in New Year resolutions .
From the start of Tradewinds, I’ve always had a thing with ‘dem Bajans .
Good musical sense is the ability to know, without being directed, what to play and where to play it and, just as importantly, when not to play at all .