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.
Over the years, I have put my head down, as we say in Guyana, in several other countries.
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.
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.
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.
Guyana’s recent Valentine’s Day hoopla reminded me of my first encounter with my Valentine’s lady, Annette Arjoon-Martins, known to Guyanese for her conservationist work.
Mankind in his/her various migrations ends up transforming the places where they settle without giving a thought to the changes, even in themselves, that result.
In the fifty-plus years since I started the Tradewinds band in Canada, I have been frequently asked about the direction of the group, which was a Caribbean band, formed in a Canadian city, but with a completely Caribbean focus.
I know everyone know the story Every day you hear someone preach How things will be in the country When Guyana oil money reach The political people shouting Even ones with foreign passport I’m hearing nuff nuff predictions Daily, I ain’t making sport.
Many years ago, when I lived in Toronto, a huge TV favourite for me was a late-night talk show hosted by Dick Cavett, a very erudite gentleman, with a great sense of humour, and this keen eclectic interest in everything under the sun and for a quirky but sharp sense of humour; Cavett was a joy to watch.
One of the striking things about everyday living in Guyana is the number of foreign accents one encounters here frequently and in parallel the variety of pronunciations of Standard English words in common use by people living here.
Media experiences are an integral part of your life if you are a musician creating songs for public consumption and, as you would imagine, they can vary from exhilarating to painful, and of course you never know in advance which it will be.
The standard of expression one encounters on the various social media, even on Facebook, can range at times from low to quite high, and shades in between, but in the midst of that melee salient points or insights can emerge so it’s up to us to pick and choose.
Given my own interests in cultural matters and the arts, generally, coupled with my wife’s own interests in other areas, it’s fair to say that evenings in Georgetown will often find me in various gatherings where those subjects are on the menu and, as to be expected, these occasions can vary in quality from official to exhilarating, and so one can go to these things hoping to encounter the latter.
One of the consequences of my having written a number of songs that have become popular with Caribbean people is, as I’ve previously mentioned, that upcoming Caribbean songwriters will ask me for tips on songwriting or, sometimes, with help on a specific problem in a song they’re working on.
Sometimes things seem to happen in pairs. Right now, for instance, we are going through a tempestuous time in Guyana with a range of voices and concerns connected with the country’s looming development as a producer of oil, with the back and forth an almost daily experience.
Following my frequent exhortations for us in Guyana to tell the story of stalwarts among us as useful knowledge for our young people, I’m doing my own bit for one of them, the well-known sports commentator and organiser Reds Perreira, or the Pomeroon Man as I often refer to him.
It cannot be news to anyone who pays attention to our various news media that a column on one topic can trigger, and will trigger, topics for another column.
In recent times in particular, Guyanese have become more aware of the various bounties that nature and, by extension, mankind, have provided for us in Guyana from the well-established locations such as Kaieteur and the Rupununi and our various mountain ranges.
One of the many consequences of being a musician who has written some songs that have become popular in your homeland is that aspiring performers will engage you on the subject of song-writing looking for advice on how to proceed.