Mudcat Café message #429752 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #32602   Message #429752
Posted By: rube1
30-Mar-01 - 10:27 PM
Thread Name: Blind Blake Calypso singer???
Subject: RE: Blind Blake Calypso singer???
I have a Blind Blake lp and he is the Calypso singer you are looking for. I just happen to be crazy about calypso music. It is a wonderful record, not typical calypso, more calypso folk. Doubt very seriously it will ever be on cd. ART Records (ALP-3) recorded in the Bahamas Copyright 1951

I don't have anything better to do-here are the liner notes:

A GROUP OF BAHAMIAN SONGS By "Blind Blake" and the Royal Victoria Hotel "Calypsos"

Past and present visitors to Nassau cannot help but be familiar with the strolling troubadours, practically a Bahamian institution, who materialize from the camouflaging darkness of the tropic night, to serenade the tourist with their wares-soft melodies sung to the accompaniment of a guitar or banjo-which they offer in exchange for the musical jingle of coins in a hat. Rare is the "victim" who can resist the charm of these native ballads, or who leaves the islands without at least a few strains of "Yes, Yes, Yes." "Bahama Mama," or "J.P. Morgan" running through his head. A quick grasp of the Bahamian inflection enables the listener to be as intrigued by the stories these songs tell, as by their tuneful rhythm-although, there are those who, after several days on the island, have asked, seriously, if the natives are speaking Spanish! (Note to whom it may concern: It is English)

Few of these wandering minstrels are better known or have been more widely enjoyed, in local circles, than Blake Alphonso Higgs-better known as "Blind Blake"-and his "boys." for years Blake, though blind (he went blind in 1934), made his way about unaided even by a dog. At other times, he would combine with a few friends, in one of the somewhat casual groups which tend to form among these local exponents of melody and rhythm, combining the various talents and instruments of their members, and offering the occasion for vocal harmony, to improve on the original renditions. the five members of this particular band have played together, off and on, since 1934. Practice and association tend to refine the arrangements-although some of the most captivating music we have heard was sung, in completely spontaneous harmony, by three waiters (musicians by nature if not by trade) to an accompaniment beaten out on two wooden liquor cases and a "catacoo" (two hard sticks rapped together)

In these recordings: the banjo and solo voice are by Blake, guitars by Dudley Butler, Chatfield Ward and Freddie Lewis (solo guitar) george Wilson expounds on the bass fiddle, while Dudley is also heard on the "Catacoo" or "Cleaver," and Chatfield handles the maracas. A sixth member of the group, not audible on the records, is "Music," a musically appreciative canine of dubious parentage, who seldom leaves Blake's side.

There are many of these native ditties and, as is the case with most true folk music, many versions of each one. There are verses we have never heard, and verses we could not put in print. Many of the songs date from the earliest days of slavery in the Bahamas, and others were born as recently as the incidents they celebrate. the occasion of the celebration might be of international importance (as "Love Alone," which refers to the "ablication" of Edward VIII,) or it might be based entirely on a personal experience of its author ("Never Interfere With Man and Wife"...), which has, more than likely, been embroidered with further embellishments and new verses by other bards, who invariably lend their own touch to the tunes they sing. They song "Run-Come-See-Jerusalem" commemorates an incident of the hurricane which swept these islands with devastating force in 1929. Blake is also the recognized author of "Jones."

The ten tunes which have been selected from Blake's extensive repertoire are among those most popular with visitors who, for nearly twenty years, have heard Blake play and sing on the terrace of Nassau's famous Royal Victoria Hotel. There, he has played to an impressive host of celebrities, along with thousands of "just plain people." It is certainly of interest to note here, that H.R.H. the Duke of Windsor is among the many who have enjoyed Blake's version of "Love Alone"-while two Morgans, whose initials were "J.P" (father and son) requested encore after encore of the song which bears their name.

To those to whom all, or some, of these tunes are familiar will return pleasant memories of balmy nights, rustling palms, gay parties, and faraway friends. To others, who may never have heard of "Jones" or "Yes, Yes, Yes" it is hoped that these ballads, recorded in their native setting, may bring a little of that indescribably charm-so often referred to as 'quaint"--which in indigenous to the now not so far away Bahamas.

(Probably more than you wanted, but the text does echo from a bygone time. Contact me if you want me to record you a copy on cdr or tape. Kevin Wilson)