It’s not new. I have sounded this trumpet before—on the need for us in the Caribbean to recognise the ones in our story, past and present, who have made significant contributions to the cultural fabric.
There is a lovely Rupununi hammock in our house; one which has given me much relaxation and sound sleep recently.
People ask me all the time about the experiences I have had since Tradewinds started.
One of Guyana’s most accomplished sons, Vibert Cambridge, a Professor at the University of Ohio, is one of those Georgetown people with whom I go way back.
I’m a farmer’s son – Pomeroon farmer, the late Joseph Francis Martins was my father – but the truth is I didn’t take much to planting as a youngster.
I cannot be sure it remains so today because I’m not around large numbers of young people constantly, but in my youth there was this definite impression among youngsters that life on the road, for a travelling musician, was a series of joyful experiences.
I did an interview this week with Sean Devers on the Kaieteur News radio station and someone asked about the keys to a career in music and my answer was “business.” They were surprised and that’s understandable.
We make a big pretence in the Caribbean to be this sophisticated person of the world, very much at home in the metropolitan areas to which many of us migrate but in fact we’re country people.
I made some noise in a recent column in this space regarding the need for Guyanese to publicly recognize the singular achievers among us, including some who have passed on, the purpose being to elevate our knowledge of the worth of our own and especially so that our youngsters would grow up knowing of people of worth in their past.
From young, growing up at Hague and Vreed-en-Hoop and with the occasional forays in the Pomeroon where my father had his farm, I was into words.
It frequently happens in Guyana that folks who stop me at various times to say thanks for the columns will often ask, “You do this every week, no breaks; how do you keep coming up with the topics?” In fact, as I perhaps mentioned before, it’s exactly like songs: ideas come from everywhere, sometimes out of left field, so that although I’ve been doing this for about 8 years now, it is a rare week when I’m in a panic because I have no subject in mind.
We have two dogs. Choo, now going on 10 years, is a German Shepherd mix who had arrived via our friend, Tony Pires, who spotted her in Brazil and realized she was perfect for us, looking for a dog.
When I say that England has played a major role in Caribbean life, I’m telling you something you already know, but when I tell you I wrote a song about missing England, that has to be news to you because I never lived in England.
As promised last week in the first installment of my Singular Guyanese column when space ran out, here is the second half of that creature.
In the arena of creating music for popular consumption, it is sometimes the case that a song about which one is very excited, and generating high expectations, will land like a thud – seemingly totally dismissed by the population.
I won’t say it’s a flood, or a daily thing, but I am often asked, sometimes in person, sometimes in writing, about the process of creating songs.
In this current “information age” in which we live in Guyana, surrounded by four daily newspapers, round-the-clock online sources, a bundle of radio stations, social media, personal electronic mail, etc., it is astonishing how often we can be almost clueless about the sterling contributions citizens of Guy-ana are making, or have made, to the national fabric.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Growing up in Guyana, or coming here to live, our waterways are part of your life.
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.
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.
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.
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.
In front, Christmas music on the radio and in the stores – I’m not big on that.
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.
By the very definition of what they are, epiphanies come at us uninvited.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
By Hubert Williams It has never happened that someone else wrote this column for me, but on October 20th, after a performance in Barbados for the Guyana/ Barbados Association over there, organised by Dr.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.