Guyana country bus

A recent car ride down the West Coast road to Parika sparked memories of my youth at Hague, and later Vreed-en-Hoop, in a time when a major factor in public transportation on that stretch was the unique Guyanese country bus totally unlike the mass-produced metal buses common to North America and Britain.

Dogs are definitely not dumb

Persons who know me well, or read this column, will know of my admiration and affection for dogs, particularly in the years when I lived in the Cayman Islands on two acres of land in the countryside, with several dogs in the family. 

Guyana named top eco-tourism destination

From time to time I hear from readers of this space saying that they enjoy the columns but suggest I should use some of them to focus on “feel good” stories, like the one last week about Fay James, the nature tourism lady running a successful nature-tourism business in a lodge on an island in the upper reaches of the Essequibo River. 

A standout lady

It’s easy to get dillusioned or even cynical about mankind in a time of Trump, or of some wayward soul in the interior with a high-powered rifle, and not much else, shooting a beautiful jaguar, or of a man in Georgetown leaving his dog chained up in the hot sun all day long. 

Keeping standards high

Even a casual observer of the various debates in the public spectrum of Guyana will notice that the subject of raising standards in the society is an abiding condition in the mix.

I didn’t know that

No matter how long ago you were born, no matter how long you live, we keep running into stuff that leaves you gaping and saying something like, “I think I know a lot of stuff, but I that’s news to me.

Cricket bacchanal erupts

Certain aspects of Caribbean life can produce various rages in our people, with the ingredients to cause such maladies in the population as high blood pressure, copious perspiration, bulging veins in the neck, and stomach pains.

Change is a constant

Probably because it causes disruptions of varying levels in our lives, we tend to see change as something revolutionary, one of a kind, when in fact it is always going on.

Waterways

Growing up in Guyana, or coming here to live, our waterways are part of your life.

Inclinations towards music

I often get questions about advice on starting out in music but I usually try to abstain; the path in each case is different, and when one considers the thousands of factors involved, it’s not surprising that the process would itself vary wildly and advice is, therefore, a tangle. 

Value we often don’t notice

As I get older, I have come to realize, time and again, that we are often oblivious to things of great value in the culture we inhabit, and I have to admit that I didn’t come to this position on my own. 

Modulate, Daddy, modulate

I said in a song somewhere once “I’ve been a lot of places, I’ve seen a lot of faces, and now and then a woman smiled at me” and though I didn’t mention it in that song, as I travel about, I’m often asked about my favourite music.

Prevailing lack of systems

After migrating to Canada in the late 1950s, I had been back to the country starting in 1967, when Tradewinds music became popular and while the visits were short – usually two weeks – they were regular, sometimes twice a year. 

Days on The Base

The preliminary photos of our revamped airport terminal at Timehri, remind me of the time I spent there after I graduated from Saint Stanislaus College in Georgetown. 

It’s a noisy world now

The matter of music being played at a volume that triggers public clamour is again in the news, and clearly needs attention from the powers that be, but whoever sets about to tackle this issue needs to be aware that it is not simply a case of “turn down the volume” as has been suggested and this is not just of a case of some “inconsiderate people” as has also been mentioned.

Di way we does talk

This week, on the ground in Guyana, I ended up in an online conversation with my friend George Jardim (East Coast businessman and erstwhile musician) that involved our various dialect pronunciations or creations across the Caribbean. 

Know your own story

When you write a column for the media, you’re drawing on nudges, intimations, angles from everywhere you can use; sometimes an idea comes in the middle of something else and you make a note of it in your “to do” book, which you resort to on the occasional week when no particular topic has already engaged you.

Different purpose, different music

In a recent column, I reproduced an article by Guyanese Hubert Williams, once a leading journalism light here, dealing with a recent show in Barbados, put on by the Barbados/Guyana Association, where I performed along with The Mighty Gabby and Red Plastic Bag.

Dis time na long time

My wife Annette is very big on Guyana.  Soon after I met her, some 10 years ago, showing pictures of the Guyana interior at a THAG function where I was appearing, that came across loud and clear to me. 

How songs arrive

Over my 50-plus years in the business of popular music, I cannot count the times I have heard the question, “How do you come up with these songs?” Or, “What’s the secret?” I heard it again, this week and, as before, the answer is that there is no formula involved, at least in my case, that I can pass on.

Dialect lexicon

Among the many things I discovered after migrating to Toronto in the late 1950s was the value of the Guyanese dialect I had grown up with; something in fact that I had been made to feel ashamed of in my homeland, a condition not unique to me. 

Modern connections

A disruption in the nuts and bolts of our lives, apart from the irritation that comes with it, can sometimes also be instructive in showing us how much more efficient we are now in communicating or sourcing, in a variety of ways, compared to how we went about those things in the earlier, less complex, life pattern that many of us wish still applied.

Responsible citizen power works

It is sometimes the case with the international events surrounding us that an occurrence in a distant country can have relevance for us, in completely separate matters, in our homeland.

Jewel in the mountains

Partly from her conservation interest and partly from  her access to  Air Services Limited aircraft, my wife Annette has pretty much been all over Guyana, so when she came home last week raving from a trip to Karasabai, describing it as a standout in our country, I had to pay attention.

Hurricane again

As I write this, Florence, a massive hurricane, is approaching the US mainland, taking dead aim at North Carolina, and it sends me back to my experience with such storms.

Dogs are the best

I don’t know enough about the subject of animal nature to say why it’s so but for me the jury is in on the matter of mankind and animals, and the verdict is that dogs are the best.

Magnets in photographs

As someone who has chosen to live in Guyana again, I have speculated in this space about the various magnets operating on Guyanese who could live elsewhere but choose Guyana. 

Two versions, one road

For the first version, I’m going back in time quite a stretch, back to the early 1950s in my youthful years in West Demerara, first at Hague and then at Vreed-en-Hoop. 

The power of popular music

We are seeing it starkly demonstrated once again this week: the power of popular music in our lives, and in particular that of the American music format with a product that is embraced all over the world, even in countries where English is not the national language.

Three stalwart sons

I have said it before and often, but some things need repeating: particularly in a time when we see so much to fix in Guyana, we should be also taking time on the obverse to champion what is of value among us in our people. 

Right under our noses

Living in Guyana again and becoming caught up in grumbling about this or that like most folks, it has begun to occur to me of late (partly from seeing a variety of video footage and still photographs) that we don’t seem to take the same note of the positives that exist here, right under our noses, along with the other stuff that rightfully draws our indignation. 

It Mek I Wan Fi Dance

Part of my current stint as Artist in Residence at the University of Guyana, in the time of Vice-Chancellor Ivelaw Griffith, has involved interactions with students.

You live and learn

A few days after my recent column on some good news items for Guyana, I was hit with another example as I found myself as an observer at the National Toshaos Conference at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre at Liliendaal. 

You didn’t ask but I’m telling you

Life in Guyana can bring us so many traumas that it is easy to lose sight of the fact that there are bright spots, as well, and indeed part of the process of dealing with the days here, as so many of my friends the likes of Ian McDonald and George Jardim are wont to tell me, is to focus on those bright spots, indeed, lean on them or turn to them in the bleak moments. 

Untangling our cricket story

Hardly a week goes by in the Caribbean without some disappointed West Indies cricket fan bemoaning the slide of the team that was once at the top but now is bouncing around at the bottom. 

Lessons I never forgot

In a social situation recently, I heard one of our senior citizens relate an incident early in her life where she gained, as she described it, “a lesson I never forgot.”  It set me thinking how that applied to me.

MI wan an’ God  

Probably because I have spent most of my life in the entertainment business, I am often interested, I would even say taken aback, to see the adulation, I would even say hysteria, that the famous persons in our societies generate. 

Drone possibilities

One of the realities of modern life is the amount of time we spend waiting – for the telephone technician to come; for the traffic jam ahead of you to clear; for the part you ordered from overseas to arrive, and, particularly taxing for me, the amount of time we spend in various customer lines or waiting-rooms. 

Repetition is the key

I spent a week recently in my former stamping grounds, Grand Cayman, doing a spot in the annual stage show, Rundown, which I started there 25 years ago.

What the hell is going on

Controversy about the changes that come to popular culture are somewhat amusing in that part of the commentary is the ingredient of surprise, even shock and outrage, as expressed in the frequent “what the hell is going on” reaction. 

We come here to shine

My Artist in Residence involvement with the University of Guyana has produced some very fulfilling exchanges, some of which I had expected but there were some surprises which I’ve mentioned before.

Most memorable music

Given that I am known as someone creating music for a Caribbean audience, I am often asked by interviewers, or the general public, what kind of music I listen to.

I do not know

When I was first approached by Dr. Ivelaw Griffith, Vice Chancellor of the University of Guyana, to serve for a year with the AIR (Artist in Residence) programme at UG, I wasn’t sure about what I would be taking on. 

The reach of music

Just back from four performances in Grand Cayman, I spent what was truly an exhilarating evening doing what I would have to describe as a “musical presentation” to a great audience at Moray House dealing with my contention of “No Music Like Calypso”. 

My Cayman years

For someone who grew up in modest circumstances and very limited exposure to what Guyanese in those days referred to eerily as the “outer world”, I ended up in a musical career with Tradewinds (something simply unthinkable for me when I left Guyana) which led me to spend time in a number of places in what is widely referred to as “the West”. 

Landscapes holding us home

Some time back in this space, I posed the ‘Why we stay’ question for Guyanese choosing to live here while mentioning some of the magnets that hold us to the homeland.

A reader writes

I recently submitted a So it go column entitled ‘How come?’ listing some of the oddities we encounter in daily life (some comical, some not) and, as I predicted, I heard from readers with their own “how come” submissions.