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"If there was ever any question of the need for
documentation of our cultural workers, the
reminders of mortality we have received from Spar-
row and almost ironically for this work, from the
Black Stalin, tell us that wasting time or working
by luck and chance will not do."
This view was expressed by Rawle Gibbons in
delivering a review of the book Roy Cape: A Life on
the Calypso and Soca Bandstand, at the publication s
launch at the Carib Woodbrook Playboyz panyard
on Tragarete Road, last Friday evening.
The book is co-authored by veteran bandleader
Dr Roy Cape and Jocelyne Guilbault, lecturer in eth-
nomusicology at University of California, Berkeley
and scholar of Caribbean popular music. While it s
a scholarly text, printed by Duke University Press,
it s essentially an autobiography of Roy Cape, co-
written by the man himself.
Gibbons is the director of the Creative Arts Centre
at the University of the West Indies in Trinidad. He is
the author of a trilogy on the calypso: Sing de Chorus
(1991); Ah Wanna Fall (1992) and Ten to One (1993).
What story of Trinidad s music does the Guilbault/
Cape collaboration tell? According to Gibbons, it speaks
of the role of the orphanages in music education and
"Apart from private piano lessons, formal music edu-
cation in Trinidad was undertaken through the orphan
home bands since colonial days. Roy lists other out-
standing players who emerged from these bands, including
Frankie Francis, Errol Ince, Ron Berridge, Roderick Borde,
Fortunia Ruiz, Major Eddie Wade and Inspector Anthony
Guilbault and Cape s work is about a musician and
bandleader and the mode of analysis is the music as
against the lyric.
"To go behind the singer and focus on the band is
their first point of departure from our cultural literature
so far," said Gibbons. "Nothing has been written of sig-
nificance about the careers of musicians who left their
mark on the landscape here and, in some cases abroad.
Fully aware of this lacuna in our cultural history, Guilbault
and Cape break ground in this undertaking. They point
the direction for research and documentation of this
nature and show what it takes to get there, without nec-
essarily, proposing a template for any future effort."
The book tells Cape s fascinating story of his musical
development from the steelband yard to Belmont Orphan-
age to learning from the great musicians whose bands
he joined---Frankie Francis, Clarence Curvan, Ron
Berridge---working with Sparrow s Troubadours, then
free-lancing in the US, before returning home to the
responsibilities of band leadership.
"He speaks of the institution that is the band; how
he sustained his band of some 15 members for 30-plus
years and what they all learned from the experience,"
"A brand of excellence in musicianship: Roy listening.
Insisting on rehearsals, warm-ups and a tight, disciplined
performance from his musicians, he raised the standard
of tent-playing in this country. Musicians creatively
engaged, and contributing to the final product. Constantly
seeking out talent and replenishing. Appreciating the
dynamic of change as members move out, new ones
succeed and some return, bringing an even richer array
of musical experience to the band."
Gibbons said the story presents Cape s band as an
institution in the development of arts education in itself.
It is a source of inspiration for aspiring musicians, offering
musical training through apprenticeship and learning
new skills, attitudes, knowledge on the job and oppor-
tunities for professional growth.
"Roy himself shows that education is not contained
within a concrete classroom or limited to the pages of
a book, but a life-long examination of experience," he
Also delivering addresses were president of Trinbago
Unified Calypsonians Organisation (Tuco) Lutalo Masimba
(Brother Resistance), and media personality Alvin Daniell
who created a CD of Cape s music to accompany the
book. Present at the event, chaired by
Prof Rhoda Reddock of UWI, were direc-
tor of Culture Ingrid Ryan-Ruben, Fr
Clyde Harvey, Bahamas-based band-
leader Clarence Curvan and members
of the culture and entertainment frater-
Roy Cape shares his music story
Roy Cape and co-author Prof
Jocelyne Guilbault during the launch
of Roy Cape: A life on the Calypso
and Soca Bandstand at the
Woodbrook Playboyz Panyard on
Tragarete Road, Port-of-Spain.
PHOTO: CLYDE LEWIS
"Apart from private piano lessons, formal music education in Trinidad
was undertaken through the orphan home bands since colonial days. Roy
lists other outstanding players who emerged from these bands, including
Frankie Francis, Errol Ince, Ron Berridge, Roderick Borde, Fortunia Ruiz,
Major Eddie Wade and Inspector Anthony Prospect."
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Monday, September 29, 2014
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