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In Honor Of Bastille Day! “Granfaddah Buckra An De Bo’Hog”

July 13, 2013 Leave a comment

 

GRAN FADDAH  BUCKRA AN DE BO’ HOG

Click The Link for the recording…

Granfaddah Buckra and the Bo’hog

Well… now it happen so dat Gran Faddah Buckra had de biggest, de schupides, de ugliest, de stinkis, de noisiest and de nastyiest Bo Hog  anybody had evah seen..

de Buckra liked to call him King George, and he loved dat Bo Hog like a Bruddah

One day de neighbor dem come sae…,

 “Buckra, you know Black people is good people, an de don mine if yu wan tu live wid dem an roun dem an side a dem oh undah neet a dem oh on top a dem or all in de middle an in between a dem  excepin’ when dat big  stinkin ugly’ bo’ hog of yours own “dat yu likes tu call King George”, du knock doun he pig pen “dat yu likes tu call he Castle of King George” an wha yu set up right in de middle a de yad, dat yu likes tu call “de Kingdom of King George” when dat Bo’ hog come  rootin up in every body business all ovah de yad, an throwin’ doun de cloths line wid all de chirren dem clean clothes on it, an rootin’ up an rollin up in all de woman dem clean panty, rootin up and rollng ovah doung  in de dutty mud an stinkin’ up de place an oinkin up de place an squealin up de place like de las pig outta hell an  wakin’ up all de people dem in de yad which of late has  happen almos every  single  night a de week an twice on Sunday,

 An Buckra, like we say, yu n kno black people is good people an we don mine, but Buckra OH God Buckra,.we tink is time you should go live among yu own kine”..

Me own kine? sae de Buckra, me own kine? Wha kina kine yu tink is me own kine?

De boldest of de Neighbah dem sae “we have contemplated and conclude you should go live doun in Cha Cha tuun”,

 “Cha Cha toun? Say de Buckra, Cha Cha Toun?”

Yes sah Buckra we have decided that you should go live  wid de res a dem Cha Cha doun in  Cha Cha toun”

“Yu tink oy is a Cha cha? Yu tink oy is a Cha Cha?

Yu loy,! Yu don kno I is a white man?

 I ain no Cha Cha, yu Muddah is a Cha Cha!”

 No no! de uddah Neighbah say, no no not a Cha Cha, St. Thomas ain ga no Cha Cha no more, We doesn use that expression no more, she mean tu sae you should go live wid de res a dem doun Carenage..ers doun in Carenage..

Carenage? Carenage? Who yu callin a Carenage?  yu Muddah is aa Carenage!

No No Mistah Buckra, das de Frenchie dem way tu say  French Toun, 

French Toun? French Toun? Yu tink I should go live in French Toun?

Yes sah Mistah Buckra, Everybody in de yad say yu is  a Balahoo..

Das why yu should go livewid de res a de balahoo dem  doun in Cha Cha, ah mean French ah mean Carenage Toun!

Anuddah neibah pipe in

“Yes man yu keeian see how it is?

Guana should live wid Guana,

Mongoose should live wid Mongoose,

Guava don grow onna Cenepe Tree and yu shluld be wid de res a de Frenchie, Doun in Frenchie Toun”

De Buckra hot now, he say Guana? Guana? Who yu callin a Guana? Yu muddah is a Guana!

Not a Guana, de neighbah sae, not a Guana, yu is a Frenchie.

“Oy? Oy? You schupid oh sumting? Yu damn forward  AN schupiddy Oy ain no Frenchie,  Oy Is a white man yu talking to… Any body cou see I is a white man,.. wha wrang wid yu, anybody cou see Buckra De Paehae is a white man!”

Buckra, (say de very darkest a de neighbah dem)  Buckra, If you is a white man I is a Frenchie, if yu is a white man, why we don hear yu Yankin, Buckra, why we don hear yu yankin?”

 “Yankin? Yankin? Sae de Buckra,  yu want tu hear me Yankin?”

“Ok den.

AYHMM  COME FRUM ALABAMA

WID A BANJO ON MAH KNEE, BUT NOW AH MMM JES A SAILOR IN THE U.S NAYVEE”

“Yu see wha ah tell yu? Yu see wha ah tell yu? De neighbah sae, he ain no white man, he ain no white man. He keeian yank! Bou he is a white man, a white man wha keeian Yank? Yu evah see a white man wha keeian yank? De Buckra ain no white man, he is nuttin’ but a mushay! Ah say Sen im doun French Town!

Oh yeah say de Buckra, Oh Yeah? Ok, den.. “AH KIN SEE AHMM A GONNA HALF TA TALK REAL SERIOUS TU YAALLS SO YALL’S GONNA KNOW DAT YU IS TALKIN’ WID A BIG TIME AN  IMPORTANT WHITE MAN WHEN YU IS DEALING WID DE BUCKRA. 

NAH AHM A GONNA TELL YA SUNPIN, AH DON’T LIKE DE WAY SOMEFOLKS IS BEEN HARASSIN’ AN HOG TIEIN’ MY GOOD  KING GEORGE THE PO’K SWINE WID YER CLOTHLINES EVERY NIGHT AN AHMM A GITTIN’ TIURD AH TELLIN YA SO,

BUT JUS SOS,  DERES NO HARD FEELINS,AN DIS DON’T BECOME SOME KINA  FUGE, AH RECKON AHMM A GONNA PACK UP MAH SADDLEBAGS AN TAKE MA HERD, AH MEAN MA BO’HOAWAWG,  AN MOSEY ON DOUN WEST.

Yes Yes, Buckra de neighbah dem say, yes yes das de bes ting Buckra,  mosey on doun west to Cha Cha toun… 

An Me Boy, das when de REAL trouble start!

Buckra and  de Bo’ Hog went straight doun to French Town an walk right in to de famous Normandy Bah, it wa round 11 a clock in de mawnin so naturally de place wa almos full. Half a de man dem wa teachin’   high school and mos a de legislatue was doun dare tu get a good head start on de day. Plus a few Sailah Man…

Now de Bucvkra had done make up he mine dat  he ain talking no mo Island talk, because he ain wan nobody to make no mo mistake bou de fac dat  is a white man through an through, from den on he Yankin straight,

Well… maybe a white man wid a lil someting else throw in in dare but all de same de Buckra say he  Yankin’ straight.

“WAL MA GOOD FRENCHIE FELLOW” he say to de lil bahman “ LEMME HAVE DE BES RED SODA DAT YOU GOT IN DE PLACE AN PLUS AH WANTS TU RENT A LIL HOUSE FROM Y’ALL DOUN IN DIS HEAH FRENCH TOWN”

Dat time a man name Magras, sae “ 

“Hey hey wait meson wait, Wha yu tink yu goin wid dat Bo hog?”Dis is de Narmandy Bah, only de bes a people cu come in in side a heah an we don deal wid no Bo Hag doun French Toun , We is fishah man doug here, RIDERS ON THE SEA!  You in de wrang place me boy, yu bettah go Nart side whea yu cou join up wid de res a dem RIDERS ON A DONKEY, an fuddah mo you ain no Frenchie!  You mubbee som kina doublebreed Daneman  an Putto Rician from Sain Croix!

All dis time three or fo drunken Sailah done feed King George de Bo Hog  mo dan a quart a rum and coke chase down wid bou five or six cold schafah beer me boy, and de Bo Hog  feelin’ it now. 

“OINK! OINK!  SQUEEE! SQUEEE! OINK! OINK!  SQUEEE! SQUEEE! Say de Bo Hag.

Den he take off trunning roung and roung in de Normandy Bah, tunnin up and knockin doun table a chair, lef and right, all ovah de place, dis time he change he tune he  bawling out “ (SQUEEYAW SQUEEYAW OINK OINK! SQUEEYAW! SQUEEYAW!   De nex ting yu know de Bo Hag stop an start tu swing and sawy. He open he eye dem wide wide and den… he vomit up a Green an Yellow tidal wave of de wus stinkin frat full a ole drawers and panty yu evah see.

De sailah dem killing dey self wid de laugh, but de Frenchie dem don tink it’s so funny ah tall. 

Well me boy, Buckra an de Bo Hag had tu haul dey “humpf” outta French Town man dey two a dem run straight an all de way up Demarara Gut through mo jackspania and catchankee… dem boy ain stop til de reach de very top a Crown  an some ways doun de uddah side.

An dats how Buckra and de Bo Hag fus arrive in Nelteburg.

But befo yu know it dat Bo Hog King George wa makin trouble an terrorizing de poor people dem out dare, rooting up in de peppah patch and knockin doun de cloths line.. well until he disappeared one day.

 Some people say King George de Bo’ Hog decided tu go St. John an is de Faddah and de Gran Faddah of mos a de wus a de wile pig an even some a de wile donkey dem   harassin de people dem up dare in St. John,

Som uddah people say dem Nart side French man finally get tu hol de Bo’ hog,, an had de biggis roas pig  of all time, evah dat Bastille Day doun Hull bay,

But mos of all a taxi man say he know fo a fac dat dem boy from the de Agricultural Station out Dorithia catch King George an dress him up like a touris an put him onna touris boat, an nobody didn’t  notice de difference between he an de res a dem til’ dey reach back Florida me boy.

I don kno about dat, but de pert I tell yu, is wha happen an das de trut de whole trut an nuttin but de trut… So help me Miss Gearty!

 

“SCOTT FAGAN And The MAAC Island Band” In CONCERT One Night Only HERSHEY AREA PLAYHOUSE, Hershey PA. August 3rd 2013, 7:00 PM

March 16, 2013 Leave a comment

 “SCOTT FAGAN And The MAAC Island Band” IN CONCERT One Night Only..THE HERSHEY AREA PLAYHOUSE, 830 Cherry Dr., Hershey, PA.  August 3rd , 7:00pm -CALL Box Office for Ticket Information: 717.533.8525

Scott Fagan and The MAAC Island Band

 Scott Fagan (Singer/Songwriter) has been an international recording artist since he left high school in St. Thomas Virgin Islands to sign with Columbia Records in 1964. Some reviews..Cashbox Magazine: Spinal Tap melodies…His range is phenomenal. Billboard: “A Poet”.  William Krasilovsky, Author, THIS BUSINESS OF MUSIC, l & ll: “Scott Fagan is a genius. I’ll certify that.” The MAAC ISLAND BAND is: Rafael “El Jefe” Martinez, (El Congero) From Hormigueros, Puerto Rico, he has been a “Congero” for over 25  years. Drew Washington, The BASS Man of Choice for the MAAC ISLAND BAND. Has played at the highest levels, for over 30 Years. Tim Griesemer, (El Maestro) Well known for his extraordinary gifts as a drummer. He is a master of percussion. Barbara Vajda, A Steelton guitar Goddess with a long history as a rocker. After a hiatus to raise little ones, the Goddess is back with Scott Fagan and The MAAC Island Band. Benny Danner, (El Estudeante) Percussion plus….Gary Smith, (El Nuevo) Back Ground Vocals and Percussion. Visit our website www.scottfaganandthemaacislandband.com  Listen to our latest singleSure has been Good Loving You Baby”  @ http://www.youtube.com   check out our latest album @ www.10greatsongsongsinsearchofanaudience.com   CONTACT INFO: Tim Griesemer, 717.439.1919 or Scott Fagan, 717.592.0853

 

 

NO MORE GUNS and Then Some…

December 16, 2012 1 comment

Dear Good People,

We recorded “No More Guns” at Associated Studios, in New York City, immediately after Guns and Insanity came together (as they always do) to end the life and work of John Lennon. Here it is.

The following short essays (2) were addressed to fellow Virgin Islanders and printed in the Virgin Islands Daily News (5/12/09 and 5/19/09 and The V.I. Source 5/10/09 and 5/16/09) as a response to the gun violence that has migrated to the U.S. Virgin Islands as a result of the crazy gun culture of  our “Modernday Motherland” the USA.

Dear Fellow Virgin Islander,

 It has been suggested that I bring the following essays to your attention.

I believe that the idea put forth in “Let’s Make The Virgin Islands a Gun Free Territory” and “Further to Let’s Make The Virgin Islands A Gun Free Territory” is do-able with your help, and would have an immensely positive and lasting effect on individuals, families and communities here at home, and in the perception of  our Islands as a travel and business destination in the eyes of the world.

I believe that together we can find the courage, the will and the way, to change the paradigm for guns and gun violence once and for all, in our (once peaceful, now pitifully violent) Virgin Islands.

I know that many of the individuals that I admire most, will object to my suggestions, however,  many of those very people  are no longer living in the Virgin Islands precisely because the ever-growing levels of gun violence creates the perception if not the fact, that the Virgin Islands are no longer safe for their families and themselves.

If after looking at the abject failure of the individual states and the nation at large to successfully  eliminate or even minimize  gun violence via registration and waiting periods you have a better idea, the time to suggest it may be  now.

I’d like to know what you think. Please email me at scott@lilfish.com

Thank you for your time and interest. 

Sincerely, your friend,  Scott Fagan

 “Let’s Make the Virgin Islands a Gun Free Territory” Part 1.

 The Virgin Islands is a territory of the United States of America; this unique relationship gives us the freedom to take a stand within the United States, and beyond if necessary, to demand that our home, these beautiful Virgin Islands, be designated, recognized and supported as a gun free territory. 

Arguments that gun lobbyists use in the states have no validity here…Virgin Islanders don’t need guns to defend themselves against invaders.

Rest assured that if anyone tries to take away their hard-won freedom, Virgin Islanders will meet them and defeat them.

We don’t need to have our beautiful Islands, our families and our society racked, riddled and torn apart by gun violence, in anticipation of that “someday” when an invader may arrive on our shores. Virgin Islanders defended themselves and won their freedom without guns before, and if necessary, will do it again.

 Gun lobbyists who would argue for a “so called” right to hunt in the Virgin Islands, are out of step, particularly when you consider the game. What shall we hunt? Sparrows? Trushie? Mongoose or Iguana? The sad little deer?  Tragically, in the modern-day Virgin Islands, the primary prey is human beings, young men hunting young men, our young men, our children.

 Virgin Islanders know that if you let children play with dangerous things (and guns are dangerous things and the people playing with them are our children) sooner or later, they will hurt themselves or others. We know that. We also know that ultimately, no one, not the United States or anyone else, should have the right to force us to have guns in our territory, if we the people have decided that we don’t want them.

It is time that Virgin Islanders (I, you, we) take action and make a stand…

What will it take for us to make our territory gun free? Our absolute commitment to stand together to make it so…that is all my friends, that is all.

 Let’s get started and let our community leaders, our Senators, our Governor, The United States Congress, our President and the whole world know, that the people of the Virgin Islands have decided. From this point forward, we intend to be a gun free territory.

 Let us reject any philosophy that would force or impose guns on our society and be united in our commitment that “no matter what it takes”, our Virgin Islands could be, should be and will be, free of guns and gun violence. Let’s make the Virgin Islands a gun free Territory, and let’s get started right now!

 Further to.. “Let’s make The Virgin Islands A Gun Free Territory

 I’ve read with interest the recent dismissive responses to my suggestion that Virgin Islanders join together to “Make The Virgin Islands A Gun Free Territory” I would point out that the gun violence that we are experiencing has little to do with the registration of  fire arms, and that we have no interest in denying anyone their constitutional rights.

The fact and reality is that young men in the Virgin Islands are involved in a classic turf war and arms race, and that unscrupulous people are willing and eager to sell these young men new and ever more murderous weapons, guaranteed to further escalate the conflict and the casualties. All concerned citizens of our community want and need to find a way to put an end to it.

 The question is how? The interesting suggestion that I have offered, is that “we the people” make (by voting on it of course) our Virgin Islands, a nationally and internationally recognized “gun free territory”. 

One reader responded by saying “Its not for him (Scott Fagan) or anyone else to deprive US citizens of this (or any other right) just because you don’t like it or because it is not part of your particular cultural orientation.” It is true that it is not my right (or intention) to deprive US citizens of their right to own a gun. However, US citizens willingly accept the suspension of that second amendment right, (in the interest of public safety) when they travel to most of the civilized countries of the world. Cultures that do not have a history of glorifying guns (which includes the Virgin Islands) are well within their rights to discourage the availability of guns exactly because they “don’t like them” and they are not part of their “cultural orientation” 

I know that my suggestion sounds like blasphemy to some statesiders who are not accustomed to viewing the Virgin Islands as having quite a separate history and cultural orientation from the US, and may further, be unaware that The Virgin Islands did NOT participate in drafting or ratifying the US Constitution. Overall a fine document, but one that has repeatedly (27 times to date) demonstrated the need for corrections or amendments. Consequently, Virgin Islanders have no reason to feel inextricably bound to articles or amendments that (while exalted as a right by some people in the states) may be wrong for us.. Particularly considering how murderously destructive firearms have become to OUR culture and OUR community. 

That is why my letter “Let’s Make the Virgin Islands a Gun Free Territory” begins with the reminder that we are a territory, in a somewhat unique position. We were bought and sold in a political transaction between two sovereign nations “lock, stock and population” against the protest of many Danes and without the benefit of a legally recognized majority vote, by the general population of the Virgin Islands. Consequently, we may have a certain moral leverage (even if only in pathetically obvious questions such as “must we allow the United States or anyone else to insist that our Islands be flooded with firearms, even if we don’t want them?”)  a moral leverage that I believe our current President and the world at large is likely to recognize and support.

 Yes I realize that reasonable people in dangerous times would like to have a defensive weapon available. Yes I understand that our peace officers and Judges will have to do a much better job of protecting us all. Yes I know it will be quite difficult to clear our Islands of the arsenals of weapons. And most importantly, Yes, we are all afraid.

But Virgin Islanders have sufficient courage to stand together in the face of adversity to bring the end to the gun violence that we so desperately want, need and deserve.

 All Virgin Islanders want a Virgin Islands in which the current crazy universal access to  guns and ever escalating gun violence is a thing of the past. We are not talking about disarming the police or the National Guard, we are talking about voting to outlaw the manufacture, Importation, sale, distribution and use of firearms among the general public. 

What a positive and inspiring effect our declaring the beautiful Virgin Islands “A Gun Free Territory” would have on businesses and potential travelers all over the world, not to mention our own children and community. What a negative impression the current reports of our ever escalating gun violence make.

One extraordinary way for Virgin Islanders to shape our own destiny and accomplish our very own quite improbable dream this year, is to take a stand to “Make the Virgin Islands a Gun Free Territory” starting right now. We can do it..yes we can.

 Scott Fagan, St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, May,2009. scott@lilfish.com

Further to Further..here in the states we have just experienced the insane and efficient murder of  the beautiful innocents in Connecticut and are deep in the (almost monthly) orgy of 24 hour “hushed tone” news coverage, the hyped up “investigations of the crime scene” and the obligatory hand wringing and pointless choruses of “why” “why”” why”.

The why ought to be obvious to anyone, when murderously deranged people can get their hands on a gun or guns, someone is likely to get killed. When they can get their hands on automatic weapons more than one someone is likely to get killed. Forgive me, but in plain speak, nuts can get guns and that’s almost always the why.

 It seems to me that the question that all our horror, anguish and concern ought better be focused on is how. How to keep guns out of the hands of deranged people. That is a question that all folks can unite around and find answers for. We can make great progress on the very specific question of  how to get  many more gatekeepers and safeguards between those with a  murderous madness (yes we can identify disturbed people and intervene earlier and more constructively) and the efficient people killing machines (automatic weapons) that we make available to them.

 Tragically, we have seen these traumas come and go..but after all and above all, let us never give up on the idea that we are responsible to and for one another and if we stick with it and don’t give up, sooner or later, one way or the next…a change is going to come..

De Barracks Yad Bay an Beach Club!

November 22, 2012 Leave a comment

 De Barracks Yad Bay An Beach Club

 It jus so happen dat one day roun de bay dere by de Barracks yad a big truck come an dump out a truck load a san. Wha! Yeh meboy, (I se to meself) now yu talking boy, now yu talkin’ lemme go lay doun in it.

 No sooner said dan done an I was de fus man dare. Boy, ah lay back an cross me leg an crass up me han dem behine me head like ah contemplating de clouds in de clear blue sky. De nex second, ah jump up ana run back home to de head a pave street for me Muddah towel ana umbrella fo style, den ah grab up a can a sardine, two French bread ana red soda ana fly back to de beautiful new san at wha I kno gon soon be “De Barracks Yad Bay an Beach Club” Yeh meboy, ah se to meself now yu talking now yu talking.

 By de time ah reach back, three o fo touris had done fin de spot, but ah tro doun me self right in de middle ah dem, put an me shades ana open me sardine.

Jus den a big hard face man se “Hey Buckra, wha de hell yu tink yu doin, yu can’ see we come tu mix up concrete an cement?” Ah se “wha? Yu crazy? Wha yu commin’ to de beach tu mix up concrete and cement” De man se “Is you is de one who crazy, who de hell tell you dis is a beach, we makin’ a watahfront fo  bigtruck cou pass here” Ah se “wha? Is YOU is de one who crazy, look de beautiful blue watah de, look de san here, look de people in de middle. We here in de Barracks Yad waitin’ bocoups an many years plus fo somebody to bring de san fo de beach. Man de people dem  been laydin doun in de mud full a crab hole an rock stone an badein’ in de watah  wha de bottom fulla broke shell an beer can. De chrirren dem billin san calsel outtah mud an don’ talk abou when de gut runnin and de nightsoil commin’ doun, den dey makin mud pie outta dat!

 No man, we waitin’ two hundred years an mo for dis san tu come (an fo somebody to plug up de gut) We ain’ wan no concrete and cement fo de beach, how de people dem gon lay doun on concrete and cement?, why yu wan tu have to jump up wid yu coal pot an yu fry fish and yu mabi an yu blanket an everyting, everytime some schupid muddah skunk ina bigtruck want tu pass. Yu crazy? No man, bring mo san! Dis is de place right here me boy, in fac we should exten de beach all de way from Wes Indian dock to Cha Cha Ta…ah.. ah mean French Toun!

Yu kno de beach belongs to de people dem and dat way every day will be like Christmas Mahnin fo de whole ah Charlotte Amalia me boy. Man sellin fraco an jumbi bead lef an right, woman sellin pate an benye by de poun. Touris frum all ovah de place commin to see de most beautiful town in de wurl, wid de bigges an de bes and de most beautiful beach in de wurl, rite in de middle ait. An de people dem will own de whole ting!. Man ah tell yu bring mo san! Bring mo san!

The Man Who Swam To St. John (Emancipation Day)

July 3, 2012 3 comments

The Man Who Swam To St. John (Emancipation Day)

 In 1985 Shaky Acres (the recovery program that Tuts and I had started in 1981) was going along fairly well, but was in need of a fund-raiser or two, Tuts heard (along with everyone else) of a proposed St. John swim (every body heard of it because it was considered impossible by most folks, and suicidaly dangerous by local folks who knew that there were hungry sharks out there the size of the battleship “Bismarck”). The UDT (The Frogmen, The Navy Seals, The toughest hombres on or under the sea) while training for many years in St. Thomas, had given up on swimming to St. John because it was simply too crazy and dangerous a deed.

The well-intentioned local lady legislator who had proposed “the swim” was unaware of the deep and dark difficulties inherent in the “big fun fundraiser”

When Tutsie was a young boy, riding back across Sir Francis Drake’s Passage coming home with his Mother from a harvest festival in Cane Garden bay in Tortola,  he looked out from the deck of “The Joan Of Arc” or “The Bomba Charger” at Pillsbury Sound (The five-mile stretch of wild water that separates St. Thomas and St. John) he said to her “I cou’ swim ‘crass dat yu kno” His usually gentle and loving mother, scared to death by what she was hearing, tried to discourage this crazy idea once and for all by replying “Man hush up yu schupid mout, why yu like tu talk such schupid craziness?” Tuts didn’t see any reason to discuss it any further, but, he says, the conviction that he could do it, was locked in his mind for ever after. 

It was July the third, 1985, Emancipation Day in The Virgin Islands. (Emancipation Day is the day in 1849, on which it became official that the slaves in the Danish West Indies had won their freedom and were now and forever more free) Freedom was a long time coming for the children of Africa in the DWI, and very hard-won, as was Tut’s own personal freedom from drugs and alcohol.

 There were forty eight entrants all together, most of them young white kids from the hot-shot St. Croix “Dolphins Swim Team”, they came prepared and ready to succeed, with sleek buoyant body suits, well fitted goggles and the best fins that money could buy

A number of the St. Thomas swimmers were runners down from the states, budding tri-athletes, an elderly white gent determined to show his wife he still “had it” and half a hand full of locals with a mismatched assortment of masks and fins..

Tuts on the other hand was wearing one pair of big and baggy boxer trunks, y nada mas…

 As the other swimmers did warm ups and calisthenics on the sand at Vessup bay, Red Hook, a tough old Tortola sailor, pulled Tuts aside and said” Buaayyy yu, yu crazy buaay? Yuh f ollowing de damn schupid white people dem? Yu don kno de real name fo red hook is shak waff? Buaayy!! Shak ow de biggah den uh submarine! Yu is a black man gon follow dem schupid white people? Buaayy wha rang wid yu, yu crazy o something?”

 Tuts concedes that the strongly delivered warning did cause him much concern, but that he had already told everybody over and again that he was going to do it, told them in the strongest terms, in the face of the harshest ridicule. It was common knowledge that no (sane) black person from the Islands could ever, should ever and would ever attempt to make that swim. Therefore, as his sanity was in question, it was also a crucial moment for recovery in the Islands.

At this moment he was demonstrating clearly (to local folks) that local people who went to fellowship meetings “wid de crazy white people dem” were demonstrably nuts (just like they thought) and for him to chicken out before he even hit the water would have sealed it once and for all. Tuts has since confessed that on that particular morning he had decided that he would rather be eaten alive, than quit.

 Once the old Tortola man realized that he was not talking to a sensible gentleman of color, he began to encourage him with information about what to expect in terms of currents and where to find what he called “soft spots” in the sea. He stated flatly that “yu can’t swim directly East ta St. John, yu will have tu swim for “Loango”  (Loango Key, a small Island due North of St. John) and as yu hold Loango as your goal, the current will be sweepin’ yu south, look sharp! Buaay, dat is de onliest way to get dare”.

 As the swim began, the fast and the fancy took off due East for Cruz bay and before you knew it half of them had been swept away and were heading backwards around Cabrita Point towards Big and Little St. James, then out over the  Anegada Trench, (on the bottom of which the scariest bug eyed things on earth, with jumping, wiggling  electro “bait worms” dangling in front of  foot long razor teeth, swim around four miles down, snapping  steel trap jaws, and saying fish prayers, to get their dribbly lips around something, anything, slathered in coconut oil, or greasy mango scented sun tan lotion) and then south and west for St Croix, Puerto Rico, Santo Domingo, Haiti, The Caymans, The Isle of Pines Cuba, and New Orleans. (of course by the time they got to New Orleans there would be nothing left of them but a Speedo tag and whatever plastics they’d swallowed along the way) needless to say, an armada of rescue boats started pulling people in over the gunnels, like langustas on parade, on a fish pot Saturday night.

 Tuts was heading for Loango .

 Shortly after the fast and the fancy fiasco, the old white gent’s wife, standing in his rescue boat started screaming hysterically “A Shark! A Shark! Oh my God, I see a Shark!” Pull my husband out, pull my husband out, pull him out right now!! Oh my GOD! Pull my husband out right now!

Tuts says the poor old gent was utterly dejected as they pulled him up, his bathing suit drooping below his pale old, pink old, shiny old  hiney.

 Next went the dapper sharply outfitted “high color” attorney from the states, who had looked most disdainfully upon our man’s baggy boxers and boney bare feet but was now being dragged, thoroughly defeated, flat on his back from the sea to flat on his back on the bottom of the heaving boat.

 The boats were heaving now because the seas were heaving now, they were coming into “The Big Blue”. A section of the sound a mile or more wide, in which, or perhaps I ought to say, through which, big serioso, fast moving, megalo mountains of Big Blue Heavy Water Waves (Waves of the sort that make you say “Good Lord” or “Mama Mia” or “Holy Freakin’ Toledo” when you first see them even though you (if you have good sense) are looking at them from your perch on the deck of a big passenger ferry, ten or fifteen feet above the water line.

 If you are in the water “down in the hollow” splashing along on your belly and craning your neck up trying to see the top of the wave, you will probably say a lot more than good lord, and if you are Tutsie and your rescue boat is manned by one “Fisherman John” a continental dipso juicehead,  that you helped to drag off the junk heap of life, but now haven’t seen for over  half an hour, most of it will not be printable in a general audience mem.wha? such as this one. But you can believe me when I say, you have probably never heard anything like it.

 Eventually, Tuts discovered that if he swam like crazy faster and faster as he got closer and closer to the top and he could then flip over to his back at just the last second the wave would crest and the curl would break over his shoulders. He could “hang there” for seconds, (perhaps one or two of the longest this side of eternity,) and contemplate his mounting misery and helplessness before having to roll over and slide headfirst down down down, ah..down down down, ah down down down, down. (Knowing that some thing is surely waiting in the “trough” to open its porky yaw and scrape you all along your back, belly and sides as it swallows you whole)

 As I may have mentioned casually a short while ago, this section of the sound was just a splash over a mile or more wide, can you guess how many times your whole life can flash before your eyes before you get completely bored with it?

What you don’t get bored with is the fact that you cannot see either Island or for that matter any thing at all when you are down in the valley, nothing but deep dark blue. So the desperate hope that you might be able to see something, anything, hinting at where you are, (is it Puerto Rico? Is it Berlin?) at the top of the next wave is a powerful draw, and can keep you going for many a repetition.

 One time he did see some thing recognizable back on St.Thomas, it was the two super poles that mark the spot where the undersea cable goes down beneath the sea. way down to the bottom, that’s the bottom way way down in the pitch black darkness beneath his own bottom. Better to see nothing he thought, than things as scary as that.

Pretty soon his primary concern had shifted from monstroso seas, to waves slapping him in the face, slap slap slap slap and he realized that he was in a different kind of swim now, the big blue was behind him, and he was battling offshore currents, lucky he had gone for Loango, because now, in spite of his forward motion he was being swept sideways, southward towards “Stephens Key”, a small flat island outside of  the Bay of Cruz Bay or Cruz Bay Bay, comprende?

Tut knew that if he allowed himself to be swept southward beyond Stephens Key, he would be out in the Anegada Trench, and then as likely as not his rescuers would be the Venezuelan Navy. He determined that he had to get to and make it through the spiffy currents around Stephens Key

If the current was running in his favor it could be a breeze, he was exhausted, but just on the inside of Stephens Key was the outer entrance to Cruz Bay. He was almost, almost there.

Alas, the current was not in his favor (unless he wanted to turn around and “go with the flow” back to the “Cabrita express” and the afore mentioned many points beyond) and this part of the swim took everything but the very best of him. The very best of him was all that kept him kicking; the current was so strong that the surface water was rippling backwards in protest. That’s when the “water under water” is moving too fast for the water “on the water” to keep up, so the surface ripples backwards in tiny little cascades of confusion, all of which seemed to be going right up his nose, and down his throat.

 They say that the children of Africa can’t swim. My friend Tutsie has proved time and again, that that is a racist lie, or put another way, demonstrably untrue. Although it is true that Tutsie’s Mother, Miss Meu, born in Dominica, was one half Carib. And although the present effort of the Carib/Arawak Federation is to dispel the myth (they say) that  King Charles of Spain used to promulgate and excuse the genocide of the indigenous Peoples of the Caribbean, specifically, that the Caribs were so wild and savage that they ate people, there is no question that the Caribs were and are among the toughest of the toughest human beings that have ever lived. So our man, three quarters African, One quarter Carib (with a smitter smatter of  French and, British, both in the African part of the pie) is lying all but dead in the water, having just burst through the impassable current hole at Stephen’s Rock.

 Tuts aka “El Toro” aka “Peperino” aka  Skarpy aka “The Rabbi” (that’s another story) aka a hundred other desperado descriptors, is ready to give it up. If only he had the strength to raise his arm to signal surrender or the voice to beg to be dragged out of the sea, he would have done so. But just then the cheerful voice of Fisherman John came sing-songing across the water, “Make it look pretty Tuts! Make it look pretty! We’re almost there man!, Make it look pretty!!!.

 Some day I’ll build a statue at Cabrita Point to Victor Antonius “Tutsie”  “El Toro” Edwards, one portraying a skinny little mahogany or Brass hued dude in baggy boxers, tilting forward on one leg, the other angled up and out behind, with hands clasped (as in prayer) just above his head, Poised to dive into history.

Tuts became that day the first native Virgin Islander to EVER in all time, swim from St. Thomas to St. John.

 It wasn’t pretty as he crawled and dragged himself ashore (water streaming from every orifice), and it wasn’t pretty as he collapsed on the sand, unable to stand for a full three minutes. But in his defense, he was forty freakin’ years old and working with a body that had been ravaged by drugs and alcohol.

 The kids on the Dolphin swim team have much to be proud of, they did in their wetsuits, fins and organized swim formations, what the rough and tough UDT had given up on, they made the swim.

I know that where ever these kids are in the world, and where ever they will go, they will always remember that “once upon a time, when we were kids in the islands, my friends and me did the impossible together” they will also remember with awe and admiration “that skinny little fellow in the baggy boxer trunks” that did it alone and bare footed, and then, passed on the champagne and praise, because “that’s not why he was there”.

Tutsie made the swim because it was Emancipation Day, and he wanted to demonstrate and celebrate freedom, he wanted to demonstrate freedom from fear of the sea and the ignorant idea that “Black people can’t swim” He wanted to demonstrate that “recovery is macho” and that black people now  need to be emancipated from the chemical slavery that is alcoholism and addiction, and because even though she was long gone, he wanted his mother to know that he could do, what he said he could do, and now it was time to go home… And oh yeah, he did it for Shaky Acres.

Of course we were celebrating Tutsie long before we started Shaky Acres and he swam to St. John. I first recorded “Tutsie” for BANG Records in 1965, (we wore it out on the Juke box at Duffys) and then again for RCA in 1975 as La Biega Carosuel/Tutsie. If you listen closely to this more recent recording (made in St. Thomas in 2005) you’ll hear our friends Jeff Medina, Morgan Rael, Lennie Monsanto, Richard Spencley, Cliff Finch, and Robbie Roberts, strummin’ and bangin’ out the groove and the beautiful “Of GOD” and Mighty Whitey and April Moran on the choruses.

Here’s Tutsie’s song, now a long time hit in The Virgin Islands

Book 2 SOON .3, and Book 4. Soon 3

July 31, 2011 1 comment

Book 2. SOON .3,

 As I said, I’m trying to stay focused on “SOON”.  And as I further said, the first time I saw the RITZ Theater (where SOON would open in January of 1971) was from my room at the Forrest Hotel.

At that time I had a south-facing room on the ninth floor; I was gazing out and noticed this odd, curiously configured roof top down below. Over time I realized that it was what a theater roof looks like from above. Years later, I would gaze at the same roof from below. Reaching across time to reconnect with the me that was, once upon a then.

I certainly felt much more at ease and at home looking out the window in (or from) what the Daily News, (in recounting the details of the murder most foul of a Barnum and Bailey circus clown), described as a “cheap west side hotel”.

In reality the Forrest Hotel was straight out of Damon Runyun, because Damon Runyun lived there and wrote there for many years. This or that reality is of course the past perfect invitation to investigate (if only for a moment) the question of relative reality, or the relative question of what (rather, which) reality is the real real deal. Dig? Capeche? Were we living in a world of Rock and Roll, or Guys and Dolls the reality show? 

The truth is both and.. thirty or countless more other parallel realities all scrunched into one.

To be continued …  

Book 4. Soon 3

I am riding on a train up over and through the Allegany Mountains on my way back to the Middletown collective (MAAC) from Johnstown, PA. Where I met the young impresario who intends to stage a concert production of SOON this coming 17th, 18th, and 19th of November. I’ve spent the last two days and nights thoroughly enjoying my self with he and his family. An all American mix of Mexican/Hungarian salt of the earth folks of the first order. I like him and them (Johnstown) very much and so we will proceed with the show.

 As I referenced earlier in the Memwa? The possibility, likelihood and indeed chronic evidentiary factorama of yours truly having FAE (Fetal Alcohol Effects) is quite good, almost guaranteed.

The dear Mudder dear is no longer here to ask about her consumption of Ethel in the nine long months starting with December 1944 and ending with me birthday on the 26th of August 1945, but based on what I know as a “once upon a moment” UCLA trained “little time big time” drug and Alcoholism wazam, the referenced likelihood is almost inescapable, and more to the point the symptoms (and their side-effects across the life areas) appear to be ever-present. 

If I ever get around to publishing my book “The New Paradigm for Alcoholism Addiction and Recovery” you will see what I’m talking about.

However, if you are too wise to wait, and  know it may be best look FAE  up now, then you will know that  I don’t do too well with working on more than one thing at a time, and right now I’m working on many more than one thing at a time and it appears that I will be for the foreseeable future. The question for anyone would be “how to do it”; the question for me is HUH?

 Apparently folks with FAE are blessed (well perhaps blessed isn’t exactly the right word, but you know what I mean) with the ability to go really really deep on a subject, but have extreme difficulty “changing sets” or, trying to move, pull ourselves out of, or shift our attention, from one subject to another.

For example, that is why, when I am concentrating on anything (like writing a song.. words OR music), I long ago learned that it is better, far better, if I do not try to cross the street, or be married etc.

I do love going deep beyond deep, but good Godawmighty it would be nice to be able to move comfortably and effectively from one thing to the next. Or just effectively.

That is why my Memwa? posts have begun to slow down as our gigging has picked up.

 Interesting gigs every one, for example, Yesterday, July 30th was National Dance Day. A concept promoted by the great tv dance show “So You Think You Can Dance”  along with producer Nigel Lithgow, and the great Congress Woman Eleanor Norton Holmes. We did an event, a National Dance Day Dance Party at a sky scraper housing development for seniors and the disabled (HOY Towers) in “Steelton” an honest to God, Steel Mill town (fallen on hard times like many another) in rusty post industrial Central Pennsylvania. We and they had the greatest time.

Here’s our recording of the theme of the day “Shake A Bum” and a photo of the good folks dancing.

"Shake A Bum" at National Dance Day!  Scott Fagan and The MAAC Island Band

National Dance Day! 2011 Steelton PA. Scott Fagan and The MAAC Island Band

However in addition to steady gigging, The SOON production and the Memwa? We have a Television show in development, two upcoming albums and “The Virgin Islands Songs” making its way towards a stage production inSt. Thomas.

This is not me complaining, it’s just that I am like a cross-eyed  juggler.

We are busy and I am grateful. I just wish that I were capable of being more effective, as many too many things not mentioned, like the record company and  music publishing, distribution and promotion and editing video and so on and on are not getting done in a timely manner.

I’m grateful a thousand times over for the grace and the real blessings that I have been given, the gift and the gifts.

I just wish that I could manage it, and them all, better.

Book 4. Up Coming Gigs And Book 2. SOON .2

June 17, 2011 1 comment

Book 4. Up Coming Gigs And Book 2.  SOON .2

We are busy and traveling a fair amount, and of course, it’s all interesting. This Saturday (June 18th) we are in Harrisburg, PA doing MODE Magazine’s Big LUAU on City Island, from 6 – 10 PM then We Travel up to New York City for Tuesday June 21st to participate in the big City Wide “Make Music New York” Festival.

We (Scott Fagan And The MAAC Island Band) will be playing at  Dag Hammarskjold Plaza on 1st Ave between 46th and 47th Streets (right across from the UN) from4 to 5 PM.

Folks are saying that we were assigned to the UN because I “sing in tongues” but it’s not “tongues” it’s just how we sing (and speak) down in the Virgin Isles. We are looking forward to both gigs; the band and I are rarin’ to go. We will be back in Harrisburg for “Music Fest” on Sunday, July 3rd and in Lebanon, PA. on August 6th for the “Pablo Emilio Memorial Music Festival”.

The band is excited to play in the Islands, and the European Festivals, it’s all in the works…we will do our absolute best, and we shall see.

 Book 2.  SOON .2 continued…

 This whole  mem.wa? thing started out in large part as a response to a gent who had contacted me because of his interest in writing a book about the “SOON” Story.

He asked me about it and in the process of emailing back and forth he concluded that perhaps I ought to be the one writing about it. Mostly because (I suspect) he realized what kind of nut he was dealing with (the kind of nut that doesn’t want anybody changing his words) and because not only do I insist on holding on to all of my “old” words but I can (and do) make up perfectly good new ones at the drop of a hat, or skip of a synapse. 

In any case he (not unreasonably) hoped that I would get right to it (the SOON part) but instead, I have spent the better part of the last two years writing 240 pages about half of everything under the sun with very little mention of “SOON” There are reasons for that. 

First of all. while some folks see SOON as the end all be all of my work and life, I don’t. (However, I see it as an important piece of music. I love Music and I love people who love music and I’ll be damned if I’m going to let it go until I know the people who would dig hearing it have heard it).

Interestingly, there are a number of self-important people who have consulted themselves and then had the gall to publicly proclaim that “Scott Fagan peaked early with “South Atlantic Blues” and never did anything meaningful after that.”  I certainly  don’t think that’s true either.

In an attempt at orderliness I conceptualized the mem.wa? as four sections each encapsulating one chronological segment of the life (if you knew how many different things occur to me almost all at once, almost all the time, you might appreciate the attempt to bring order, however, for lack of better experience or “other” experience, this “blizzardito” of ideas and images, is one of the things that makes it ever interesting to me, to be me.) It may be symptomatic of FAE, but “dems the symptoms I got” and thank God I find them interesting and amusing.

Anyway, or rather, further, I imagined the mem.wa? as (thanks to modern technology) a hybrid of words and music (yes I know that’s what a song is) meaning a book with music (yes I know that’s what a Musical is) a combo platter of lit and music, a book that you could listen to (yes I know..) but or rather, a book that allowed you to hear the music in the muse. A mix of book and blog able to organically include music in the experience, a,a,a, Blook!

Anyway when chronologically It was time  to write about the teenage years, I felt as if I would need to tread very lightly to avoid hurting other people, not a one of which needs any more pain in their life and I simply don’t have the time to spend zig zagging between truth and consequences, or turning ragweed to roses and so I slowed down a bit to plex on it.

After plenty of good plexateing (and because of the recent SOON activity), I’ve decided to revisit that stuff later, a quick synopsis will suffice and help to put things in context. Here it is.

 “Lots of singing, lots of juicing, lots of trouble with the law, lots of love, lots of jealousy, lots of trouble with the law, homeless, violence, lots of trouble with the law, singing in the dungeon, juicing in the dungeon, lots of ah..difficulty in dealing with authority.

All in all, interesting and unusual (by virtue of the people and the settings, down in the Bongo Isles, the deep South in the early 1960’s) worth revisiting, and without question, a set up scenario for lots of trouble with the music business.

So, as noted elsewhere, as a homeless teenager living on a piece of cardboard, on a hillside (Sara Hill)  at the end of the airport runway in St. Thomas, I signed on as crew on a fifty foot ketch called “The Success” she was on the last leg of a  round the world cruise and bound for Miami. We sailed out of the harbor at Charlotte Amalie at dawn on July 2nd 1964.

My mission was simple and clear, save my beautiful alcoholic mother from herself and get my younger brothers back from social services’s foster care system, set my sister up, get my Pop an Irish Bar in a good drinking locale, eradicate racial prejudice and social injustice  by singing my heart out and making a million dollars. Ah… right away.

And..if at all possible, somehow rescue my own 15-year-old sweetie from the guy she had gotten pregnant for and married and gone away to the states with so she could get out of the house ‘cause (the rumor was) she was being molested.  

The content and emotion of those days may have been captured somewhat  in my song “South Atlantic Blues” written in 1965.

Here are two recordings of it. The first recorded in 1967, is on the ATCO Album “South Atlantic Blues” and the secondrecording that I’ve posted here, is from the LIVE album ” Shake A Bum” recorded in 2010

                                   ” South Atlantic Blues”                   Scott Fagan

You know the Islands are the perfect place for going away

Life’s so easy there you live from day to day to day to day 

The father of missions, he once walked proud and tall

He must had seen too many Christians, cause now he’s very small

The poor man’s got no Gods at all

Not counting alcohol, not counting alcohol 

You say that’s dues, I’ve got news for you

It’s South Atlantic Blues, South Atlantic Blues

 She lives in the alley, the hope gone from her eyes

Her dress is torn and dirty, loving lips are cracked and dried

She sits and cries, my life’s a lie

Her children think she’s died, her children think she’s died

You say that’s dues, I’ve got news for you

It’s South Atlantic Blues, South Atlantic Blues

 She stands by the seaside, my love, she waits for me

And I can’t help her as she wonders, how long will it be

I told her once, we would be free, from Charlotte Amalie

Charlotte Amalie,  Charlotte  Amalie

 You say that’s dues, I’ve got news for you

It’s South Atlantic Blues, South Atlantic Blues

 You know the Islands are the perfect place for going away

Life’s so easy there you live from day to day to day to day

day to day to day to day…

After many adventures and poetical ruminations, a month later we arrived in the states, and I got a singing gig at a folk Club on US 1 in Ft.Lauderdale called “The House Of Pegasus”. A month after that I arrived in New York City with 11 cents to my name. I called the only phone number I had which had been given to my Mother by a friend of a friend of a songwriter.  

The name with the number was Doc Pomus.

 I called him and he set a time for me to come sing for him the next day. I did and Doc was kind enough to sign me on the spot.

What’s this have to do with SOON? It’s what they call “backstory” or setting the context, it was also the beginning of my exposure to the for real and serious music business.

Doc was a very successful song writer, with hits galore. Among them; Lonely Avenue, Young Boy Blues, Teenager In Love, Hushabye, This Magic Moment, His Latest Flame, Little Sister, Return To Sender, Go Jimmy Go, Save The Last Dance For Me, and Viva Las Vegas, we lived at the Forrest Hotel on 49th between Broadway and 8th, the Brill Building was right across the street where Doc’s Music publisher Hill And Range Music had their offices.

I of course thought (and my recent three song audition and instant signing reinforced the idea) that music (and by extension the business around it), was  magical and made up of people appropriate to populating the magical musical land. I thought that Doc and his partner Mort Shuman, (and the other professional songwriters in and around the Brill Building) had it made in the shade. 

I was very surprised (and unhappy) to hear Doc’s descriptions and characterizations of music publishers and record companies as exploitive and  dishonest (my fluffity and flautin’ words not his, Doc was more colorfully direct and to the point).

 My initial reactive defense was something like “well that’s too bad for the people who get hurt, they probably did something wrong, and anyway, I’m here to make a million and rescue my family.

I don’t want to or have time to, get caught up in stuff like that”  

However, Doc was trying to educate me to the reality of the people and the business that we as artists (writers, singers, musicians) were in and had to  deal with.

I really didn’t want to hear that stuff or believe it, I much preferred my own  magical thinking. Only weeks before I was “sad glad good bad happy mad dreamy lad” swimming in rum and coke  delusions down in the beautiful Virgin Islands and suddenly I was a signed and (at least expected to be) grownup professional recording artist (although I wasn’t old enough to sign my own contracts, my Mudder dear had to come to New York to sign them for me) in what was turning out to be a cut throat snake, scorpion and piranha infested reality.

I had seen all kinds of blood spilled in crazy drunken violence, had come face to face with the deepest kinds of hatred, knew all about suffering, deprivation and sadness, but really nothing at all about manicured  men in tailored suits whose ambitions for money (yours, mine and everybody else’s) appeared to supersede every other human value  and concern.

Though I knew scads about ‘life’s other side” I knew very little about this one and I honestly had never imagined that such people actually existed. And, I really didn’t want to know. 

I was at thrilled and excited to see all of Doc and Morty’s  BMIwriter awards along the hall ways at Hill and Range, and the awards to song writers Otis Blackwell and Elvis Presley for “Don’t Be Cruel” and “All Shook Up” songs that represented the “liberation theology of Rock And Roll” songs or rather “energy and intention” that inspired and sustained me through a fairly challenging childhood.

Back at the Forrest I said “Doc, I saw all the BMI awards at  Hill and Range, I didn’t know that Elvis was a song writer, that he wrote “Don’t Be Cruel” and “All Shook Up” Doc said “Scotty, Elvis didn’t write those songs, Col. Tom Parker said  Elvis had to have half of the song or he wouldn’t record them.” I was dumbstruck..I couldn’t believe that Elvis would do something like that, I couldn’t believe that someone would make Otis give away half of what was his.

Doc explained that Elvis had nothing to do with it, it was all Tom Parker, and Tom Parker was all about the money.

Morty took me to a song writers bar on 50th Street just off  Broadway and introduced me to a parade of writers (primarily African American) responsible for many of the great Doo Wop hits who had either been cheated out of their royalties or manipulated into actually selling the rights to their songs lock stock and barrel. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.

 I can’t tell you how much of a true believer I was, music meant the world to me, gave me (and millions of others), hope. Had unified my generation, pulled my sister and me through hell and high water, To discover that slick “business men” had been hurting and cheating and stealing from the people who actually made the music, and that the people, the public didn’t know a thing about it, and therefore no one would do anything to stop it, was soul searing and outrageous to me. And frankly, that was only the beginning.

 So there we see part of the genesis of SOON.

This  belief/ idea that if “people only knew they would do some thing” was an old one for me.

In 1954 my step father Howard and my Mother, fleeing bills in St. Thomas, moved us into an apartment at Parada 25 and Aveneda Fernandez Juncos, in Santurce, Puerto Rico, next to what was at that time considered the largest and worst shanty slum in all of Latin America, “El Fangito”. When I first saw naked little children, feeding themselves out of garbage cans,  I said to my self “If the people in America knew about this they would do something about it” and I decided that “I’m going to learn to write songs and tell im’ cause if they knew about it, they would surely do something about it”

This was an earlier element in the Genesis of “SOON”

I still believe. The only difference now is the realization that writing the song and even singing it at the top of your lungs is no guarantee that anyone will hear it, or that the information will get to the people, or if in fact the song is heard, that the people who hear it will care enough or can afford to care enough to do something. Things simply aren’t as simple as they once seemed. However if one cares, then you’ve got to keep trying.

Continues…

Book 2. SOON .1

June 7, 2011 1 comment

Book 2.  SOON .1

 Not long ago (two to three months) a young man involved with a small theater Company in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, contacted me for permission to do a production of my Rock Opera “SOON”.

We have since exchanged a number of emails, and I have given him my permission to go forward. 

We will be meeting some time in the near future to go over the script and to discuss the specifics of the production in terms of content. He originally found (and downloaded) the Los Angeles Recordings of SOON and wondered if I had any leads on any recordings of the Broadway production. I told him that I might and would take a look.

It happens that fairly recently (with in the past two years) I had been contacted by someone from the mysterious shadow world of “Broadway Musical Collectors” who “knew someone” who “might know” someone who “knew someone” who “might know” someone who “had information’ that could lead to a copy of a bootlegged tape of SOON, illegally recorded one night in 1971, live at the RITZ Theater. 

Believe it or not, the trail ultimately led to the United States Library Of Congress, whose librarians and kind customer service people were good enough (for a substantial but not unreasonable fee) to make and send along a copy of the bootleg recording of my opera for me.

The thing arrived on two of the shiniest golden discs this side of prophecy, I gazed upon them in dazzled wonder and amazed-eye for a long while, then stuck  Act One in the player to see what I could hear.

I tore it out quickly when I heard the beginnings of  a cockamamie mishmash “overture” and realized in horror that the recording residing in The Library Of Congress, and representing SOON to the ages in perp..perp..perpetuity, had been made after I (along with my partner Joe (Jose Silvio Martinez) Kookoolis and co author and director Robert Greenwald) had been fired and barred from the theater.

Fired and barred as part of a sequence of preposterous events and changes designed by Producers Bruce Stark and Sagittarius Productions (Edgar Bronfman Sr.) along with new Director Gerald Freedman, “adapter” Martin Duberman and Musical Director Louis St. Louis to “commercialize SOON”.

 Attitudes, events and changes that in a most sublimy apex of reverberant self reverential irony, perfectly paralleled the very story that we were telling in SOON. Actually doing in the production of  SOON the exact kinds of actions that SOON had been written to illuminate and protest.

A story about how tragically and unnecessarily destructive the dollar driven establishment music business could be to artists, to their  music and to the society most affected by their music.  

I will write in much  greater detail about SOON and the super crazy reality surrounding it, in the course of this memwa? but for the moment..

 I put the CD back in and listening to the voices, was transported to a time (January 1971), and a place, (backstage at The Ritz Theater, 48th street, New York City). Peopled by young and  beautiful hopefilled faces.

We were a cast of casts, absolutely bursting with the brightest promise and potential. Marta Heflin, Peter Allen, Nell Carter, Vicki Sue Robinson, Dennis Belline, Richard Gere, Leata Galloway, Marian Ramsey, Joe Butler, Michael Jason, Pendelton Brown, Pamela Pentony, Tony Middleton, John C. Nelson and Singer Williams. I don’t think that there has ever been a cast with more promise on a Broadway Stage.

 The whole of it and us, now only young and beautiful voices floating in my head. Peter Allen, Nell Carter, Vicki Sue Robinson, Dennis Belline, and who knows how many others, gone from this world.

Listening to the recording was a seesaw tsunami of happiness and horror.

Happiness at the heart and vocal performances demonstrated by the performers as (I suspect) they realized the ship was sinking but, by God, taking full advantage of their moment to shine. 

Peter Allen doing “Soon”, Nell Carter doing “To Touch The Sky”, Marta Heflin’s rendition of  “Annie’s Thing”, Tony Middleton’s ”One More Time”, Marian Ramsey killing them with “On The Charts”, Vicki Sue Robinson all but stopping the show in her duet with Richard Gere in “What’s Gonna Happen To Me When I’m Fifty”, Leata Galloway stopping the show with “Child Of Sympathy” 

The horror at how “Music Music” “Country Store Living” “It Won’t Be Long” “In Your Hands” and the bulk of the score were misunderstood and massacred, the scaldingly embarrassing snippets of dialog, and “showbiz” restructuring of sequence and scene.

 Anyway…

Here is a copy of the note that I emailed to the young man in Johnstown yesterday.

June, 6, 2011

Dear Michael,                                                             

Here are the Broadway recordings along with the noise reduced L.A. Recordings.

I have just heard the B’way production for the first time in forty years.

As you may know, the director, Robert Greenwald and I were fired and barred from the theatre, and “entertainment” type changes were made to our script against our wishes. I have just been listening to those changes and frankly, I am extremely embarrassed by them. I am also upset by how wrong for our style of music Louis St.Louis (the Musical Director) was, our musical phrasing is very much out of synch,

I would not choose to have the Broadway recordings of SOON represent me and my work to any one any where. I am only sending them to you because they may be contextually helpful as we go forward.

Please do not draw upon Louis St. Louis’s musical phrasing or the cockamamie dialog Martin Duberman inserted as something to emulate or reproduce, as I have absolutely no interest in doing that

Louis St. Louis was wonderful and right for Grease, but very much wrong for SOON.

You and I will, script in hand, talk through SOON some time in the near future and absolutely arrive at the best possible iteration of SOON ever presented.

Michael Meketa’s Johnstown Production of SOON will be the best ever.

It would behoove us to make sure that it is recorded at the best quality available.  

Sincerely,

Scott Fagan

 To be continued…

 

Book 4. What a Wonderful Gig!

May 8, 2011 2 comments

What a wonderful gig we had in Brooklyn yesterday (Saturday 5/7/11) at the big Convergence in Red Hook Event. What fun!

The MAAC Island Band fluted and banged their socks and maracas off and I (while breaking three strings myself) sang like a banshee in flames. The dancers  twirled the colors swirled and the music that makes happy, ruled the land.

Many a girl from yesterday was there, piffeled up with perfume and looking all shiny and new. Each as enticing as ever.

There is a communal space (parallel to the muggled mundane) in which “them that makes the music and them that receives it” are intimately bound in transcendental joy, breath to breath, beat to beat, spirit to spirit. I thee, you, me… a “we”. A “we” that is at once plural, that is at once singular. A “plural singularity”, a delight to sing in, a delight to sing from, a delight to sing  to. All in all, past wonderful.

We will be back in New York for the big “Make Music New York Festival”  on June 21 st.  Musical artists of every kind will be playing simultaneously all over the city.  We “Scott Fagan And The MAAC Island Band” are scheduled to play at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza (46th and First, across from the UN) from 4:00 to 5:00 PM. We can hardly wait! Perhaps we will see you there!

Here are two more tunes from the LIVE Album “Shake A Bum” I hope you enjoy them.

Here is “Mademoiselle”

and Here is “Where My Lover Has Gone”

Book 4. Virgin Islands Singer Scott Fagan to perform at The Brooklyn Waterfront Artists Coalition’s big “CONVERGENCE IN RED HOOK” on May 7th 2011

May 1, 2011 6 comments

 Here is The Press release for the upcoming NYC gig.. followed by the “Backstory attachment” to that press release, that folks got. It’s here because this sort of stuff is interesting, and necessary in this business.

I have added the Theme form “SOON” and The Theme From “The Virgin Islands Songs” You will find them at the very bottom of the page.

BWAC.org is a great venue and we very much enjoy our time there, come on down (or up as the case may be) if you are free.

For immediate Release:
 
Virgin Islands Singer Scott Fagan (Subject of Jasper Johns Lithograph “Scott Fagan Record”, Author and Lyricist of “SOON” the very first Rock Opera produced on Broadway, and Father of 2009 OBIE Winner and Magnetic Fields front man Stephin Merritt), is coming to New York to perform at The Brooklyn Waterfront Artists Coalition’s big Spring opening “CONVERGENCE IN RED HOOK” on May 7th 2011.
 
Scott Fagan and The MAAC Island Band, are currently promoting their LIVE Album “SHAKE A BUM” which includes selections from Scott’s new Musical “The Virgin Islands Songs”. Scott Fagan and The MAAC Island Band will perform three sets between 1 and 5:30 PM.
 
The Brooklyn Waterfront Artists Cooperative is located at 499 Vanbrunt Street, Brooklyn, NY. For Directions please visit bwac.org 
 
Please contact  Shari Brandt  717-944-1187 at the Middletown Area Arts Collective. www.middletownarts.com or scottfagan@lilfishrecords.com  
Thank you!

SCOTT FAGAN “De Real Ting Mon”

Scott who? Scott Fagan. Here’s the 411…

 Scott Fagan is a brilliant musician born in New York City and raised in the Virgin Islands.  This talented artist has a one of a kind sound with a Caribbeankick.  Scott has been an international recording artist since leaving Charlotte Amalie High School in 1964 to sign with Columbia Records. During that time he has released nine albums and multiple singles, in addition to writing and appearing in “SOON” the very first Rock Opera produced on Broadway!

 His Caribbean consciousness is manifested throughout his work. Scott’s musical innovations underlie the “Contemporary Caribbean” or “Caribilly” genre widely popularized by Jimmy Buffet, Kenny Chesney, and others.  His very first album, “South Atlantic Blues”, released in the summer of 1968, now recognized as a classic, inspired Jasper John’s lithographic series “Scott Fagan Record” part of the permanent collections of museums all over the world, including MOMA, The National Gallery, and The Tel Aviv.

Scott’s albums: “South Atlantic Blues”1968, “Many Sunny Places”1976, “Sandy the Bluenosed Reindeer”2000, “Buried Treasures, (The V.I Songs Vol. l)”2004, “Dreams Should Never Die” The V.I. Songs Vol. ll) 2005, ”SOON”2009, “The Virgin Islands Songs, The MUSICAL”2010, ”Buckra De Paehae” ( a spoken word Calypso Comedy album)2010, and most recently his LIVE album with The MAAC Island Band “Shake A Bum”2011, Can all be found at www.thecollectedworksofscottfagan.com

 Scott Fagan has spent 40 of the past 47 years, trying to revive his career after being “blacklisted” by the “old school” Music Business for his Rock Opera “SOON”.  Scott wrote “SOON” to bring attention to the “absurdity and cruelty of the music business, and its destructive effects on artists and society”.

Here’s what Martin Brookspan had to say:
“The tide of Rock musicals reaches its high water mark in SOON… an inventive, imaginative, brilliantly realized creation.”

Emory Lewis said:
“SOON is a hallelujah blessing, glorious music easily the best score of the season… I loved every rocking minute.”

And John Schubeck:
“Staggering shots of meaning. Dynamite in so many ways.”

In spite of reviews like these, and a cast which included Peter Allen, Richard Gere, Vickie Sue Robinson, Nell Carter, Marian Ramsey, and Leata Galloway, SOON was pulled the day after it opened.  Ironically, Scott’s son, Stephin Merritt of Magnetic Fields, Gothic Archie’s, The 666’s, and Future Bible Heroes fame, recently won the Obie award for his first musical “Coraline”. Quite a chip off the old block…

 So, where’s Scott Fagan now? He’s busy busy, gigging with the MAAC Island Band, promoting the LIVE album “Shake a Bum” and Scott’s own Calypso Comedy album “Buckra de Paehae”, keeping an eye on two of his musicals  in pre-production.  First is “The Virgin Island Songs”, scheduled to debut inSt. Thomas,Virgin Islands, and the other?? “SOON” scheduled for November, in Johnstown,Pennsylvania.  That’s right, “SOON” is back in production!

But wait, there’s more! You can catch Scott Fagan and the MAAC Island Band  live in New York on May 7th, 2011 (from 1-5:30 PM) at The Brooklyn Waterfront Artists Coalition’s big spring show “Convergence in Red Hookwww.bwac.org 

At The United Nations Dag Hammarskjold Plaza in New York’s Citywide Music Festival (Make Music New York) on June 21 st at 4:00PM, 

Or at Scott and the band’s stateside home base the Middletown Area Arts Collective (MAAC) (www.middletownarts.com) at 3 South Union Street in Middletown, PA.  (Contact Shari Brandt at 717-944-1187).Thank You!

The Theme from “SOON”

The Theme from “The Virgin Islands Songs”