Bassy - Love Vine
January 31, 2014
Big up de Country Relatives
Last Sunday afternoon ah listened to de closing session of de Bequia Blues Festival aired on Nice Radio. Actually, ah wanted to go to Bequia to tek in some ah the Festival, in particular the session wid de local artistes: “Bequia Kids Steel Pan Orchestra, de local Blues Bands, Becket and Country Relatives.” When ah tuned in de radio, de ‘Kids on Pan’ had done dey thing, but ah heard Denzil Bacchus’ Blues Band wid ah dynamite performance, and Becket who closed de show on ah high note.{{more}} Ah was particularly impressed wid Country Relatives, ah band from Bequia wid ah professional sound, dat specializes in Country and Western music. Bequia has long been ah home of Country and Western Music. Ah remember in de early 1960’s ah went to spend ah Christmas in Bequia.
 
It was Christmas Eve night and ah found me-self in ole Bunyan shop in de Harbour, Port Elizabeth. De Bar was packed wid patrons and liquor was being passed back and forth. Dey was ah group of fantastic musicians from Mount Pleasant, playing in de back ah de shop, using acoustic (string) instruments: “guitars, cuatro, banjo, harmonica,” de late William Gooding played ah tenor saxophone.” Is like de whole ah Mount Pleasant, (de Bequia white community) men, women and children were on dat compound. Yuh won’t believe dat dem musicians did not play one Christmas tune. Matched-up in cowboy hats, dey played only Country’n’Western all night, de Hits of de day: “Am I losing you” by Jim Reeves; “Am I dat easy to forget” by Skeeta Davis; “Everybody’s somebody’s fool” by Ernest Tubb and lots more. De audience knew every song de band played, and dey didn’t hesitate to sing along wid de band, ah saw tears pouring down dem women cheeks! Looking back now, it was ah Karaoke! Before den, ah couldn’t tek Country’n’Western, but ah feel was dat Christmas Eve night dat ah got indoctrinated into Country’n’Western, ah good genre. However “Country Relatives” is like ah reincarnation ah dat 1960, Christmas Eve night String Band in Bunyan Shop. Currently led by Avondale Leslie, de band is comprised of mainly relatives (cousins) who are de offspring, second and third generation of dat group, 50 years ago. “Country Relatives” is synonymous wid Country’n’Western music, and is preserving ah great musical tradition dat is treasured in Bequia.

The band has ah professional sound, writes and records its own Songs and is quite ah fear-for-hit at de Hotels and Clubs in Bequia. I think dat just being ah part of de now internationally famed, Bequia Blues Festival dat features Caribbean and international groups, is nuff to mek us all feel proud of Bequia, and in particular Country Relatives. Big-it-up foh de lads!

OVER MY DEAD BODY TOO

Ah don’t know if Arm-in planning to dead now, but he right when he says: “Over my dead body!” My over-standing of remittances, is dat anybody can send home money or barrel to his/her people be it ah club, church or pull-it-tek-all party. In de case of ah barrel, de Customs will check, inspect, value de contents and charge duty accordingly. If it is ah charity, de receiver could ask foh duty free concession. We had ah disaster on Christmas Eve night, and some Vincentians in de die-us-poorer, supporters of de NDP, want to send home Relief – food and clothes to us, dey prefer not to deal thru NEMO or Go-venom-mint, dey feel more con-fee-dent channeling dey items thru NDP, dey party. When de barrels arrive, it will be de Customs’ job to determine if the contents are dutiable or not.

If Customs charge duty, NDP will either pay or ask de Go-venom-mint foh concession. But don’t tell me dat de shipment has to go thru NEMO. My Buddy David Joyette called after de Flooding and said he wants to supply book bags, stationary etc to children who suffered loss in de floods. He will send dem to me. If and when dey come, and anybody tell me any non-cents bout going thru NEMO, is “Over My Dead Body Too!” Dam non-cents, right in de Customs ah leaving dem! And wid dat is gone ah gone again.

One Love Bassy

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