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EVERYTHING BUT: Bajans on song


Ridley Greene

EVERYTHING BUT: Bajans on song

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I enjoyed a steamy macaroni pie on the radio a day last week. It was mellifluous.
Truth be told, I hadn’t heard the pleasant melody in years; not since Andrew Pilgrim released the pop calypso single in 2003. Its difference, imagery and tuneful melody are as captivating today as when the celebrity lawyer – as Pilly The Kid – first presented the work on the airwaves, and sang it on the Headliners’ stage.
Maybe the radio programmers (if there are any these days) or the DJs didn’t want to glorify the macaroni pie with all its cheese and grease; maybe they wanted to promote healthy eating and living. I doubt it.
Anyway, there is nothing wrong with a little macaroni pie and some succulent Proper Pork.
I think the radio programmers (if they are any) and the DJs didn’t think playing the Pilgrim song was worth the effort. And at any rate, I am sure they believed Andrew didn’t need the publicity or royalty payments from it; and furthermore he is an attorney, not a singer.
This might not have been so bad had the radio stations played the music of all the less prominent Bajan singers there are – not their select favourites.
One problem is that the music powers that be, as a microcosm of the larger society, seek to pigeon-hole their peers and acquaintances who possess – or at least display – more talent than they do. You are a lawyer, stick to law; you are an accountant, stick to balancing books; you are an editor, stick to reading copy.
They never extrapolate this “logic” within their own bosoms. You are a radio DJ, play the music that somebody else who appreciates Barbadianness, and thinks, gives you!
Regrettably, there are other Bajan musical works which have been set aside and ignored, and given some nominal notice in Independence Month, much like Andrew’s Macaroni Pie. Truly, it has not been done without thinking; only without thought. And I don’t expect the fast-talking DJs to recognize the nuance.
Increasingly regrettable is the practice of not even giving airplay to the more notable Barbadian performers. Brian Bumba Payne has been complaining of late; Smokey Burke before him.
We have professional artistes like Anthony Gabby Carter and Desmond Weekes whom the radio people forever keep burying in Boots and Drink Milk respectively. The singers have a much greater repertoire – and more current.
The one way of showing an artiste’s versatility is to present the popular and “unpopular” works he or she has.
And if they can’t find Gabby’s latest, he can compose one for them before their very mikes – right dey so!
As for Desmond, how often have you heard his fresh Beautiful Island Woman and his latest So Proud To Be A Bajan – prior to November? If you get you a decent count, let me know.
Some singers, known and unknown, miffed and disgusted by not having their works performed on radio as a matter of course, take to the many karaoke sessions there are across Barbados. Some of the finest performances delivered have been at these music bars.
At the very amateur level I have seen ageing Elvis Presleys, big-bellied Marty Robbinses, blonde Charlie Prides, young and svelte Patti Pages, and gyrating Skeeter Davises (the wuk-up police could really book a few).
There are no rhinestone-studded, body-hugging shirts or bulging crotches, and diction does not always have its finest hour. And for the big-bellies, it would be hugely humanitarian if they could be wheeled away from the mike after some of their hot performances.
A Thursday night at the Bush Bar, with only the sea breeze for air conditioning, could open your eyes to the vast expanse karaoke has become, where the crowd often forgets the falling rain, keeping warm with rum, vodka, whisky or brandy, especially when a bawling Big Wheel, with falsetto assistance from celebrity Wayne Norville, dramatizes – with full tears – Sue Thompson’s golden oldie Sad Movies.
We suffer no delusion that all the music sung at karaoke is broadcastable, but we enjoy hearing Bajans sing – all through the year while the mortal music powers that be impersonate the gods.

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