Bassy - Love Vine
June 15, 2018
Long live Svg Cadet Band

Yuh know yuh bin around ah long time, when you remember events of five and six decades ago, and yuh thinking dey took place only yesterday.

So congratulations must be in order for de SVG Cadet Force Band as de youngsters celebrate de Band’s Golden Anniversary. Ah think de Band was originally de Grammar School Cadet’s. Looking thru de names of de foundation members, still “Youngsters of Yester-year” it is heartening when one can recognize dat most, if not all ah dem Youths have today blossomed and have become leaders in our community. Great Musicians at home and abroad; in other professions like medicine, law, engineering, calypso, radio personnel and of course de politicians must find ah place. Hon See-in Clear Le Cock still treasures his well earned title, “de Major!”

Religion was always in de mix. Among dem was our Venerable Archdeacon, Everton Weekes of de Anglican Church. He gave up his customs officer job (I think) to follow Jesus. Ah remember back den too, at ah Christian Council Meeting, my school-mate, Dean Ulric Jones told me dat he too, was giving up his lucrative job as Deputy Government Printer, to attend Codington Theological College, to study foh de Anglican priesthood. Ah was surprised and jokingly asked him: “When last yuh had yuh head checked by Dr Cordice?” Cordice of course was doctor in charge ah de Mental Home, those were de glorious days of Mental Health!

Interestingly also, is dat Lennox John, my school-mate who later became de headmaster of de Grammar School our All-dah-Matter, he was de Commander of de Cadets, and also became and still is, an Anglican Deacon. Like “Dey’s something mighty sweet about de Lord” in dat Anglican priesthood.

But de real man dat started it all wid de Cadet Band, was ah humble and strict Met-dis Minister, Rev. Allan Kirton. Lie-Za say ah must big-up de Met-dis too, how Kirton was ah “Graduate of de John Wesley Theological School foh de Liberation of Slaves and Up-lift-mint of de Down trodden Class”. She must be de founder of dat school. But we thank de Almighty God foh de lives of these great people. Dey had vision, dat’s veer-shun foh present day leaders. If we serious bout youths, we got to go back to way we all got started: De Cadets, de Scouts and Guides, Sunday Schools, youth groups, 4-H clubs and so on. Let me inject some politics and say all ah dis is documented in de NDP Redempt-shun Charter, but was kicked out when it was tabled in Par-liar-mint.

Ah remember like it was yesterday back in 1978, forty years ago when John Horne, Blazer Williams and I tried to get Nine Mornings out of de dance halls and back on de street. De youngsters in de Cadet Band were excited, dey joined us wid about 12 drummers who participated in a street jump around Kingstown. De first two mornings was ah disaster, de crowd in de clubs refused to come outside.

On de third and fourth mornings we augmented de drummers with brass-men from de Police Cadet Band, we had men like Kenton Kirby, Jam-back, Alfie Jack to name ah few. De crowd ain’t move from de dance hall yet. For morning number six, we got an open back pick-up to borrow from Ju-C, got de famous Mr Elias Roach, an ole-time drummer who ran ah cook-shop on Back Street, mounted him on de pickup to play his drum-set with de musicians, so we had ah full orchestra, drum, brass percussions, and we had Back Street foh we-self to jig-up; but only de organizers, ah few street kids and vagrants paraded wid de band. By de sixth morning we were forced to surrender to de dance hall, “We Gave Up!”

John Horne and I gave up but de Cadet Band grew from strength to strength, and by 1991 twelve years later, when another attempt was made by El Grupo Amistad to revived de Nine Mornings, de Cadet Band was ready, de band had become de Nah-shun-all Youth Orchestra wid Geoff Venner as band master. Kemuel Spence, Dexter Bacchus, Melissa Scott, Michael Garrick, Cornie Clarke, Kerwyn Romeo et al were among de young musicians. Dey were part of de Cadet Band dat could take pride in having been ah foundation group dat played a pivotal role in 1991, de time of revival of what is now our Nah-shun-all Nine Mornings Fetival. Long Live SVG Cadet Band.

One Love Bassy

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