Lost links & Re-ups

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Slinging tuneage like some fried or otherwise soused short-order cook

29 October 2013

Cayman Islands

The Cayman Islands is comprised of the three islands of Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac, & Little Cayman, located south of Cuba & northwest of Jamaica. I always associated the Cayman Islands with dodgy off-shore banking & even dodgier financial ‘providers’ like Deutsche Bank, & Goldman Sachs.

There is really no music industry, but there is always plenty of music. Grand Cayman’s Seven Mile Beach is a hot tourist spot. The Beach is lined with hotels, all the hotels have bars, all the bars have bands. The thing is trying to get something to post here.

Most of the music actually recorded in the Caymans seems less than the highest quality, as much of it is done on the fly.

This was recorded by Stephen Storm Roberts for Original Music as part of their Caribbean music series. Original is more known for their African music series (African Dances, Songs the Swahili Sing, The Nairobi Sound, The Sound of Kinshasa & others).

John Storm Roberts was the co-founder of Original Music, a mail-order company that distributed world music books & records. Roberts (born February 24, 1936 – died November 29, 2009) was a British-born, U.S.-based ethnomusicologist, writer, & record producer. Aside from a few home taped cassettes, no Grand Cayman music had ever been collected before John & his son Stephen went there in 1982. They recorded this album. Only the first side is of the Cayman Islands, the other side being original music from Tortola, British Virgin Islands.

In an interview with The Los Angeles Times in 1987, John Roberts illuminated his selection process:  “I don’t care how esoteric it is, but it’s got to be terrific,” he said. “Not this ‘you-can’t-hear-it-and-it’s-terribly-performed-but-it’s-really-very-interesting-because-it’s-the-only-winkle-gathering-song-to-come-out-of-southeastern-Sussex’ attitude.”

Various – Under the Coconut Tree, Caribbean Music Series OMC 201, 1982.
decryption codes in comments

Side One: Grand Cayman –

Munzie’s Boat in the Sound – Radley Gourzong & Group
Under the Coconut Tree – Rachel Rankin
Balimba Radley Goutzong & Group
Southeast by South – Burnell Dixon
Rise, Arise My Charming Young Girl – Rachel Rankin
The Devil’s Dream – Radley Gourzong & Group
Sammy Beatin’ Suzanne – Julia Hydes with Lil Rose Dilbert
Open the Window to Me – Edison Scott
We Don’t Need no Radio – Dalmain Ebanks

Side Two: Tortola –
Ella Gift - Alec Cameron w/the Sparkplugs Band
The Spanish Merchant – Alec Cameron
The Guavaberry Song – Grace Callwood
Louis Loose Your Mule – Alec Cameron w/ the Sparkplugs
The Butcher Boy – Melcena Smith & Elias Fazer
I Plant a Piece of Pumpkin – Alec Cameron w/ the Sparkplugs
Nancy Blue – Isabella Morris
Captain, Where’s Your Cargo – Alec Cameron
The Sunday Morning Well – Elmore Stoutt w/ the Sparkplugs


Now here is some of the very music the tourists & locals get to hear in one of the local bars (like Barefoot’s Place at the Grand Caymanian Holiday Inn).

George Nowak came to visit the Caymans from his native Germany in 1971 & never left. Nowak met Cayman native Andy Martin a short time later. After hearing Martin sing, Nowak quickly recruited him & eventually formed the full Barefoot Man Band with Chuck Quappe on guitar, Barrie Quappe on conga & vocals & Earl tags along to play steel drum.

But this story has a twist. This is George "Barefoot Man" Nowak & Andy "Peanut Peender" Martin. Nowak is a blond-haired blue-eyed German-born countrified barefoot man who has found his own "Place in the Sun" amongst the islands & who plays & sings calypso. Martin is a curly-haired, dark-skinner Bracker (from Cayman Brac, the second largest island of the trio) known as the Cayman Cowboy, who would rather sing a classic traditional country song complete with steel guitar & fiddle than look for soldier crabs in the moonlight. Odd that a white German tourist who never returned home would be the Calypso songster & the native brutha would be a country slinger.

“It’s not so much like this today, but when I first came they loved country music in the Caymans,” Nowak said. “Every jukebox had nothing but country music.”

Together they are a showcase of what native & visitor can do when both work in harmony, with the acceptance that native men should always captain the ship in Island waters. Last year they released their latest album, You Had to be There. Their 40+ year partnership continues, they say, with a healthy dose of wit and satire. 

 The Barefoot Man &Andy Martin – Barefoot & Andy, Barefoot Records BR-5704, 1976.

Side One –

Cho Cho – Barefoot & Andy
Island Lady – Barefoot Man
Yellow Pages
Letter from Sea – Andy Martin
Don't Steal Me Coconuts – Barefoot Man

Side Two –

Taxi – Andy Martin
I've Ruined My Liver (While Healing My Heart)
Banana Convention – Barefoot Man
You Sexy Thing – Andy Martin
Who Put the Pepper in the Vaseline – Barefoot Man
Every Night at Midnight – Andy Martin


1 comment:

  1. Under the Coconut Tree
    Barefoot & Andy