St. Martin’s (North and South) style of music has always intrigued me; therefore, I would like to tell my comrades about our unique style. If one would listen to tunes by The Mighty Dow, The Emperor Brat, King Patou, King T-MO, King Beau Beau, King Jacko, King Stanky, Ramon Wilson, King Fish da Mega Boss, Raymond “Lino” Hughes, Kaiso Genius, Rosan Maccow, The Might Baker Jr. , King Tempo, and Pedro “Doctor” Jones one would hear 15 very different styles. But they all have what I would call the “Sunshine-City Guava-Berry” flavour. Here is a gentle reminder from The Mighty Dow’s road march tune “St. Maarten Style” – Face to face, belly to belly, waist to waist; and Jacko’s 1979 Road March tune “Sunshine Jam” – So take a side and jump in any band…. this is a Sunshine Jam, Hey!
And just to let you know that we run things, here is Patou’s road march tune “Who’s The Leader?” – I want to know who’s the leader …..Follow the leader.”
And to prove their allegiance to country, Lino composed “St. Martin is my home” and King Beau Beau composed “St. Maarten loves you.” Be it a calypso/soca, a rhumba, or a zouke as long as our creative musicians are the players that “Suncshine-City Guavaberry” sound will be heard. Except for Trindidad, most of the other carnival-loving Caribbean islands love fast-beat tunes in the jam. King Beau Beau’s road march tunes, according to me, have a fast “ponum-dance” beat which is a vital part of our ST. Martin heritage. Once you hear one of his tunes, “you can’t stop wukkin up.”
Furthermore, most of the above mentioned artists are very gifted musicians. Comrades, I believe that virtuosos like James “Jim Tucker” Samuel, Leonel “Big Nel” Bertin-Maurice, Federico “Culebra” Smith, Hugo Nathaniel “Tanny” Davis, and Bebe Flanders (peace be upon them) were the men who created “The Sunshine-City Guavaberry” sound.
I have profound respect for the Jolly Boys Band. because the band is preserving our culture. In the later, late 1960’s and the early 1970’s when I was a boy, I was fascinated by the sound of drums or “trapset”. One day as I was walking up the Pondfill Road (before it became the A.C. Cannegieter Street), I heard the acoustic sound of a band “kicking hell”, and when I got closed to the makeshift band-stand, I saw Stanley Lloyd beating a trapset and his uncle Franky Thomas blowing a horn that was made from two broken bottle necks, with a piece of wax paper in the middle.
Comrades, the band sounded impressive playing The Mighty Sparrow’s tune – “Priest”.
I, however was spellbound by the sound of the trapset. And there were times when I would watch “King Beau Beau” Leroy Brooks, play the trapset for Pot Rum Steelers steel band.
How I became a guitar player, is another story for another time. The reason why we sound the way we sound (I believe) is because of the music from our string bands and the gyration of our beloved “ponum dancers”. Plus there are the subliminal textures in the mixture of song and dance.
I have heard some of our best bands play over the last forty years: The legendary Rolling Tones, The Creole Stars, The Superfly Brods, The Cool Creations, Zodiac Brass, Ramon and the Family Brass, Lino and the Hardway, The Fifth Dimension, and The Bells Explosion. Furthermore, I played with The Bells Explosion.
In closing, comrades, we must preserve our “Sunshine-City Guavaberry” sound or style because it defines who we are as a people.
Comrades, we can hold on to our “St Martin Song” for those who hold it dear to their hearts. But let us produce a ‘true’ St. Martin anthem, with our “Sunshine-City-Guava-Berry” sound for the world to hear.
julien f. petty