Bassy - Love Vine
July 5, 2013

We can be numero uno again

Congratulations are in order foh de winners at de Junior Panorama, dat goes foh all participants, dey were all winners. Dis year we heard more bands, but not necessarily ah higher standard ah Pan.{{more}}

Nuff wuk still to be done in de Pan initiative especially dem juniors; some ah dem bands not ready or not getting proper training. De good news is dat we now have two young Pan-ace, Rodney Small and Rejhaun “Dixie” Baptiste back from music school in Jah-mek-her; ah was assured by Sis Rainy dat d’s guys will be taken care of; ah guess we will see dem as Music Teachers, wid Pan being dey speciality. Starlift Juniors is de new 2013 Community Champions.
We will recall how foh de last two championships, Sion Hill Euphonium had Starlift literally bite-in de dust. Well Starlift bounce back dis year and let loose ah sand storm at Victoria on Sunday. My local expert advisors tell me dat Starlift pans were sweeter, de arrangement by Hero was better and de choice of song, Razum’s master-piece “Perseverance” could very well have made de difference. Ah overheard Sion Hill saying it’s not over until de end, wait foh dis Friday night when de Senior National Finals tek place.

C.W. Prescod Primary took de Primary and Secondary Schools Championship foh de second consecutive year. Dis is sweet reward foh CWP, dey been around foh twenty plus years and ah think dey are becoming de force dat Bishop’s College Steel Orchestra uses to be in de 1990’s. Congrats to Music Teacher/Arranger, Faffa Wilson foh those tiring years of trying. At de inception in 1989, CWP was considered one ah de rough schools, rude kids, dey uses to call it de “man and woman school” not “children school.” Ah remember well de struggles Orde Ballantyne had when he was principal, indiscipline was de Orde-ah de day. And when he seemed to have had tings right, dey moved him, victim-eyes him, he remains outspoken though, licks no boots.
So what’s Elite bout CWP? Got to be its programme in music, Pan and Drum dat began in 1989 when Junior Sutherland was music teacher. Only two weeks ago, ah read way Basil Charles of Must-take fame, ah man wid de interest ah de nation’s youth at heart, donated ah set ah Marching Drums to CWP School. Dis is ah one-dah full gesture by Basil, but ah hope dat de Marching Drums are not going to replace de Traditional Bum Drum dat de students been playing since 1996, dat’s part ah we African heritage. Dey can play both depending on de occasion.
Our Bum Drum is unique, but it’s ah die-in art dat we go soon lose. Folks born before de advent ah de Steel Band, would appreciate de String Band and Bum Drum foh de role dey played at Weddings, Dances, Festival time like Carnival wid de Maypole, Quadrille and Bois Bois Dancers. Ah Bum Drum was made up of ah Flute, Rolling pan, Chopping pan, Bass, Under-bass and de triangle. As ah was saying, Junior Sutherland is who started de Bum Drum at CWP when he returned fresh out ah Music School in Jamaica. He had done his thesis on Folk Music and became energized and hungry foh Vincy Folklore after dat. To date he has arranged and compiled ah (musical) CD wid 25 Vincentian Folk songs composed by I-can like de late Alban Henry, Chester Rogers and others.

But in 1996, Henry Gaynes, ah Bum Drum Fan-ah-tek who was local manager of de ECCB (bank) branch in SVG, got his organization to finance ah Bum Drum band in three schools, Grammar School, Troumaca and CWP; only CWP got started and is still alive and well. Nzimbu made de Drums, but since Junior had never heard de traditional Bum Drum, he got de late Vincent Mc Lean (Nixon’s dad) from de “Rolling Thunder Bum Drum” of Stubbs, to teach de students de basics. Some time after when CWP Primary and Kingstown Prep held dey Sports Meeting, de Police Band was not available to play foh de march-past, but alas! CWP Bum Drum Band was ready, dey provided de music. De band is now ah popular fixture at ah number of Awareness Marches thru de town, de Marching Drums will blend well wid our Bum Drum.


But our Carnival is crying out foh new cultural initiatives, all dat seems to be coming is more and more ah de Vulgar Party Fetes: De Wet! De Black! De Glow! De Mash up de Place! De Wine down de town! Ley me hear somebody Screeeeeem! Dey’s room foh tradition in our festival and maybe we should revisit de archives of Carnival, see what’s dey to be revived and modernized from de ole time stuff, de Bum Drum, de Bois Bois, Maypole and Quadrille dancing and other Cultural Traditions dat made de Carnival long ago so unique.
Ah want to suggest dat de Platinum Sponsors of Carnival, Brewery, LIME, Lotto, Corea’s Hazells divert ah ten per cent ah dey Carnival Sponsorship towards de Development ah de cultural tradition itself. We need training programmes and workshops foh de Youths in Song writing and Pan; Mas costume designing and building. Introduce de Bum Drums in de rural communities and schools, and organized competition. If we do dat, ah will bet me last dollar dat Vincy Mas will be de “No 1 Festival in de Region” again! Happy Carnival! Stay Sane! Sober! and Sensible dis long Carnival weekend. And wid dat is gone ah gone again.

One Love Bassy

Bassy Alexander is a land surveyor, folklorist and social commentator.