Home > 1, Music > Book 2 and 4. Sessions, and Book 4. A Little Trip To Jos Van Dyke

Book 2 and 4. Sessions, and Book 4. A Little Trip To Jos Van Dyke

Book 2. and 4. Sessions and Book 4. A Little Trip To Jos Van Dyke

 Warren Schatz (the producer of my RCA Album “Many Sunny Places” and Vicki Sue’s “Turn The Beat Around”) has sent me a most beautiful new track for my song “Surrender To The Sun” for inclusion in “The Virgin Islands Songs” I am to add my vocal and send it back to him for mixing.;

I am very deeply excited to do this vocal, I’m thinking this is a once in a life time opportunity. It is a beautiful track of a beautiful song calling for a big and beautiful vocal. And while I know beyond any doubt that I could have “killed” this performance once upon a time,, the truth is that I’m afraid that I’ll discover that I can’t sing like that any more. We shall see, I will do my absolute best to prepare myself to deliver the ultra good goods. I certainly am not lacking in inspiration or motivation. This one is the ultra it! And I will give it my ultra all.

I’m concerned that the heart and soul and mind and spirit are willing but the body may be too worn out. We shall see.. (I will post the recording, here,  perhaps you would be kind enough to send along a comment indicating your response, once you’ve heard it. Thank you in advance)

 It’s interesting, I recall being less nervous for my first ever anywhere recording session, and it was at Columbia Records.

Wes Farrel was the producer, Doc and he had gotten together and written two tunes “You Weren’t Made To Be True” and I don’t remember the other. Wes had come by the Forrest Hotel, to find the right keys and teach me the songs. He decided on keys and then went in and cut the tracks at another studio somewhere, and now we were in the hallowed Studio A at Columbia Records to do the vocals.

 On my way to Studio “A” I walked past Arthur Godfrey in the hallway, and though I was long used to getting disapproving stares and glares from “adults” (generally because of my long hair and bare feet) he gave me the biggest warmest smile and thumbs up “git ‘im” sign. It was very surprising, very encouraging and very much appreciated.

As I sang for all I was worth in the cavernous Columbia studio (where they would record “Like A Rolling Stone” a few years later), Nancy Ames (another “adult” that I only “knew” from seeing her on TV) was at the control room window rooting me on in the most enthusiastic way.

I thought that it was very kind of her and I never saw her again to thank her…so…Thank you Nancy Ames for your kindness to a young boy on his first day at bat in “the big leagues”.

 Wes was a very good looking fellow very sharply dressed who would soon have a big hit with “Hang On Sloopy” and go on to marry Frank Sinatra’s daughter Tina.  

Wes looked like he came from moola and he did. He was (or seemed) supremely confident (I think you would have to be, to marry Franks daughter) He was like a perpetual motion machine, the fact that I had mentioned in rehearsal that I thought the keys were low elicited a raised eyebrow and nothing more, so we did the tunes towards the bottom of my range rather than the top (where the good screechin’ and yowling takes place) and I learned lesson number one.

No matter how experienced and confident or preoccupied the producer seems to be, and no matter how new or much of a novice you are, you have to make damn sure that you have found the right key before any body cuts any part of any track

 Never the less, Al Stanton was the President of Columbia at that time, and has maintained a positive regard for my ability as a singer from that time to this. In fact he is the one that signed “Many Sunny Places” (the record was originally paid for by Love Records in Helsinki Finland, because we couldn’t find a deal anywhere in the states) to RCA Victor, and released it here in the states.

 I was at the Columbia Studios alone that day because my Manager, the great Doc Pomus (who suffered from childhood Polio and was on crutches or in a wheelchair) was (at that time) finding it too painful and difficult to get around.

Doc’s writing partner and pertner in the production company that I was signed to (Pomshu Productions)  Mort Shuman, was living it up in London with Andrew Oldham and The Rolling Stones, and would be back in the Spring.

 It was intensly interesting; but some level I was really “just a teenager” from the Islands, albeit an oddly and unusually experienced one, but never the less, I would have given anything to have had some of my teenage friends there with me. 

 I was and am such a mix of emotional ages. even now.

However, I have learned to do my very best regardless, as I will for this coming session.

 My early days as a young singer in New York were fraught with lessons (which is not to say I was learning them all) real and big and important things to be examined and understood and applied. Unfortunately all too often they were delivered in a cultural context and referential language that seemed foreign to me.

Many many times through the years, it has been suggested to me that I ought to have sailed east rather than west from Charlotte Amalie.

 Though I’m born in New York, the unspoken but assumed cultural inferences and subjective cultural preferences embedded in the language of the States, the City and perhaps most especially, the music business, were not a comfortable fit for me, frankly in retrospect, I’m surprised that I got along in the milieu as well as I did, for as long as I did. With the exception of those time in which I was a part of making music, I felt very much like a stranger in a strange land. To be continued..

 Book 4. A Little Trip To Jos Van Dyke…

We have been planning a trip to see our friend Philiciano Callwood aka “The Fox” aka Foxy. He has a beach front bar in Jos Van Dyke, that has become quite popular over the years. We are going up to see him about scheduling a concert. Tuts and Timmy and Nicky and I have each and all known him for many years. Tuts and I have known him the longest, in fact since we were all boys living in Bournefield in the 1950’s.. Philiciano (or Phillie as he was known then} was brought down to St. Thomas by his mother, who worked as a house keeper for Mrs. Creque and the three naughty Creque daughters.

They all lived in the huge pink Creque Mansion on the “Hidaway Road”. A Mansion large enough to contain both Heaven and Hell in equal measure, and it certainly did.

That any of them survived the Creque Mansion is the kindest kind of miracle, and Foxy’s subsequent success may be proof positive that the long sufferin’ can earn and redeem good karma points. Knowing the Creque girls as we do, Tuts and I can “vouchify and attest” that he earned ‘em, every one.

These many years later, we (and they) are all very happy for his good fortune. That good fortune includes falling in with the Lady Tessa, late of wild Australia, who turned out to be his Ms,  his match and and his mate.

 Our little group of travelers has now expanded by one, to include a lady who is also a legend in her own time, “Miss Delia” of St, Thomas, Harlem, Height Ashbury and Tortola. Our little crew are all miraculous survivors.

We have been “adults” since childhood, which means our childhood lives were shot thorough with adult concerns and behaviors like “where are my cigarettes and where is my rum” and our adult lives shot through with the  behaviors and of concerns of childhood, like ”where are my cigarettes and where is my rum” (While Tuts and I got clean and sober long ago or we would be long gone, recovery doesn’t change the past or the depth and longevity of the connection between and among kindred spirits)

 We are intending to sail up to “The Foxes Tamarind” on Timmy’s 28 foot sail boat “The Star Gazer” Timmy (I should call him “Captain Timmy,” he’s had his Captain’s papers since he was 18) has been sailing these waters since he was a child. First on his family’s beautiful 48 foot, black hulled Ketch “The Shellback “and then on the mighty “Maverick” certainly one of the most beautiful awe and dream inspiring sailing ships to ever grace the harbor at Charlotte Amalia.

One of my earliest songs was about the Maverick.

Maverick Sailing On the tide

Maverick where are you bound tonight

With new born child below, blow ye winds oh blow

Keep them safe from rock and wave and blow ye winds oh blow

 Maverick, take me for a ride

Maverick, I need a place to hide

From things I should not know, Blow ye winds oh blow

Keep us safe from rock and wave, and take us where we want to go.

 We are all children of “Trader Dan’s” a St. Thomas, waterfront bar that drew and welcomed one and all, (including school children in our two tone uniforms and empty book straps).

There was no minimum drinking age in the Islands in those days (I had been buying rum on credit at the local shops for my mother and stepfathers, since I was six) and those of us with a predilection, or as the recovery materials put it “a predisposition to alcoholism” were blindly (no pun, I mean it) demonstrating what early onset familial (genetic) alcoholism looks and sounds (and feels) like. We were having the time of our lives.

 As I’ve said, that any one of us survived (many, maybe most, didn’t) is really quite unexpected, but here we are sailing out of the lagoon, and east to Jos Van Dyke. We have all made this trip in many a vessel over the years.

 One trip found Tim and Tuts and I in an ocean racing Donzi with my little twins Lelia and Archie, and their beautiful Mother Annie. We stopped at Sandy Cay” on the way up that day, and had to swim ashore with the little ones. Archie rode on Tut’s back like the Ginger bread man, and Twinkle rode on mine (yes, yes, they were wearing their little life vests) still it was so exciting for them that they have never forgotten, (their Mother has likely never forgotten either), What a beautiful and exciting windblown day that was, and what a beautiful and calming day this is, as we sail on little “Star Gazer”. Continued…

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