So It Go

Is Guyana, boy

Curious monkey, up a tree Jumping up and down, a spree Only sound, a boatside paddle Two bosom friends and me Then Gunns Strip… way way down below, And Barima, way up high From Mazaruni, Vergenoogen, Eh heh, Imbaidmadai From Malgretout to Rosignol Schoonord to Lusignan From Windsor Forest to Mahaica From Wismar to Leguan From Crabwood Creek to Ituni And  Paramakatoi All of that, yes all of that, Is Guyana, boy.

Different places, different traces

One of the benefits of my life as professional musician for over 65 years is that I’ve seen many different countries, some of which I have lived in, during my time – starting with Guyana, where I lived on the West Demerara, first at Hague, my birth place, then Vreed-en-Hoop, where the family moved when I was going to school in town – first at Sacred Heart High School on Main Street and then St.

Along the way

My wife, Annette, who most people know from her dedication to environmental matters and Guyanese culture over the years, will occasionally rope me into some project she has going, and one of current ones involves her brainwave to do a video where she shows me a photograph from my life and gets me talking about it. 

If you’re Guyanese

In my time as a writer of songs and plays and other stuff going back to 1966, I learned always to pay attention to feedback from the public.

The music journey

One of my long-time friends, with whom I communicate by email fairly regularly, made a comment to me recently that I should remember to remain grateful for what has come to my life through music, and while I think I have done that to some degree, it can certainly bear repeating.

The Hinterland

I have to declare that in the midst of all the high-tech life we’re enmeshed in these days, right in the very heart of it, like sitting in an airport lounge in North America recently, my mind, seemingly on its own, will take charge of me, like a tap on the shoulder, and send me back to some crystal clear memory (I’ve mentioned some of them before) that  ends up slowing me for a few minutes, literally not moving, reliving what once was, photographs of life in some reservoir somewhere, some of them very old, but all of them crystal clear and sometimes suggesting music.

You are Guyanese

Basically, I come out of the song-writer mould, but every now and then a poem does come to me, as this one does today.

The Helping Hand

In the midst of all the woeful, I would even say daunting COVID-19 news landing on us, it is unfortunate that some of the more uplifting items pass virtually unnoticed, so purely from the good news angle, I’m citing three of the latter here.

Stanchions

A definite part of the writer makeup that surfaced in me very early in my youth is my fascination with certain words not in everyday use but carrying interesting shades of meaning or colour. 

A Mixed Bag

Given that I’m always scribbling notes regarding topics for upcoming columns, I occasionally end up with a number of short bits that don’t add up to a single cell but are still worthwhile fodder. 

Feeling Blessed

After the recent Birthday rah rah that engulfed me and led to my column last week, I am taking that opening to spend some time this week with some looking back down memory lane at the musical journey for me that started all those years ago beginning with my very early years living at Vreed-en-Hoop, which I’ve written about before.

Constitutional change must come

Over one month ago on a very early morning at 6:00, I stood in line with my wife Annette and a host of other Guyanese to vote for a government of my choice.

Kaiso and the Toronto years

I began playing music for fun, many years ago, growing up in Vreed-en-Hoop, across the Demerara River from Georgetown, and in a recent conversation with Bajan musician Roger Gibbs, now based in Toronto where I lived for many years (Tradewinds started there in 1966), it struck me that there is a terrific book in the story of the evolution of Caribbean music that has happened in our lifetimes, particularly in Trinidad and Jamaica, but also across the region generally, from St.

Some Days

Over the years, I have put my head down, as we say in Guyana, in several other countries.

Migrants

It’s with us all day, whether we live in the Caribbean or outside, interacting with it in all sorts of ways, major and minor, and so it becomes a given condition, something we don’t even notice, as a rule, but in the Caribbean region we are a nation of immigrants.

Perseverance

In the tangled and often confusing world of popular music both in the Caribbean and abroad, one is often asked in interviews about the “key to success” in that field. 

Valuable lessons

Having lived in two countries – the Cayman Islands and now Guyana – where significant economic development was taking place, one is struck by the similarity of the two experiences, some 1,500 miles apart in separate times. 

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