The Sounds of the Calabash: Roots, Rock, Reggae
The (Calabash) drum beat don’t stop just cause ribs knock or the poets get cock-blocked… “All these poets think they’re novelists!” quipped Carolyn Cooper, emcee extraordinare & professor of literary and cultural studies at the University of the West Indies, Mona as she called time: 3 mins!
She was right, and like her I thought to call time on my long overdue music post in celebration of Calabash 2012, but the sounds are still in heavy rotation. One or two have even worked their way onto my devotional playlist on Youtube. And if you were present in that place where a welcome mat was laid for hearts that beat to the rhythm of the arts, then you definitely couldn’t blame the one or two or more renegades who gave it their all on either stage (music &/or arts).
The space between the jam-packed schedule of The Calabash Festival 2012 which courted a “constellation of faces and voices and seeing and ways of being” that made you feel like you were on this side of literary heaven, and brought to mind a clear excellence among Caribbean lovers and compatriots, was filled with the sounds of the calabash.
From voices that did the gutter swipe, to the falsetto heights, to the rub-a-dub-stylee, it made no never mind because it was potent ROOTS-ROCK-REGGAE, and I fell in love more than once.
The following is me playing favorites. I urge you to take a listen…
1) NoMaddz — I won’t even waste precious breath labeling. #The yuth talented fe true. These young men brought the madd-ness the first night. That is, madness coming good like ill can be rendered superlative, and dubbed illest.
Sort out Yuh Life Jamaica!
2) Raging Fyah — ‘Six musicians divinely united to create and perform wholesome music for Generations.” Judgement Day is the title track from their debut album Judgement Day. Meet Kumar Bent (lead singer/guitar), Anthony Watson (drummer), Demar Gayle (keyboard/singer), Delroy ‘Pele’ Hamilton,(bass guitar/singer), Mahlon Moving(engineer/singer) and Cortland ‘Gizmo’ White (guitar). Raging Fyah, spiritual music to a higher level.’
You want to talk about “wheel back de tune Ms. Selecta” then please do, I can do this all day. Also gaining momentum in my life of late:
3) Jakoostik nee The Calabash Acoustic Ensemble — ‘Jakoostik’s mission is to bring the catalogue of classic Jamaican songs to life through acoustic performances and arrangements energized by the spirit of improvisation.’ You can well imagine that they knew their stuff. They took it slow–decade by decade. Two that set my heart beating:
Book of Rules
Sammy Dead/Hard Man Fe Dead
Some history on the group: Jakoostik came as the result of a feature on the last day of each Calabash literary festival where a group of respected Jamaican musicians were asked to present and interpret classic Jamaican songs as literature. At first, the group was known as the Calabash Acoustic Ensemble and then the Jakoostik Music Ensemble, nowadays it is simply Jakoostik.
4) I-Octane — There was a rumor and as untrue as it turned out to be, I must confess I delighted in it. I like how the young man stays which is why he’s here. Life hard in the interior and life hard at the edge of the water, but we are ever good at survival. His story is blazing!
Who have you been listening to lately?
ABOUT THE WRITERHi there, I’m Tynisha C. Leon, writer, West Indian, mango-lover, founder and Editor-in-chief of DASHEEN magazine — the online destination where culture feeds imagination. Join the culture chat on Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr! If you’d like to contribute, drop me a line anywhere, I’d love to read/see your unique views! Bless up!