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Posts Tagged ‘Columbia Records’

The Sand Box Kids…Trader Dan’s..Duffy’s…

June 27, 2013 1 comment

Recently I was” invited/automatically included” in a new Facebook group called “Sandbox Kids” by a founding member “Bite Size”. I am grateful to be invited/included in anything started by the mighty Bite Size and thank her for her kindness.

 The Sand Box was a fine bar in a good drinking local, specifically backstreet, Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, Virgin Islands. The Sand Box Kids group, is made up of the children who drank there during the sixties and seventies and have miraculously survived to this day.

 I say children because there was no minimum drinking age in the Islands in those days, and many of us started very early, (13 in my case) we drank and danced and fought and f*cked like ..well,.. crazed drunken children in a perfect never land.

 Anyone that knows me or my recordings, knows that in truth and above all, I am a Trader Dan’s Boy (Trader Dan’s was another fine bar in a good drinking local, specifically the waterfront in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas) through and through.

 My first recorded reference to T D’s (as we called it) was in my 1966 recording of “Tutsie” (BANG Records) (which I built my La Biega Carousel medley around), “Tutsie” was a 45 (bw “Give Love A Chance”)   that quickly showed up on the jukebox at “Duffy’s”, (my second most favorite bar).

Duffy’s Bar is where “The Mamas and The Papas” got started, and my own first group “The Urchins” came together in early 1964. Duffy’s is also where I met “Lotus” a wild woman/child who would become the Mother of my Son, Stephin Merritt.

 My song “South Atlantic Blues” (from My album South Atlantic Blues, ATCO 1968) references an alcoholic Priest, and a homeless woman/mother living “in the alley” that alley is of course the alley that led from Trader Dan’s to Duffy’s then across Main street to Back street and ‘Eddies Backstreet Bar” which in time became the afore mentioned “Sand Box”.

 The last verse talks about a girl standing by the sea side waiting for her lover to rescue and take her away, she is of course standing on the waterfront directly across from T D’s. Almost exactly where I went overboard into the sea, drag racing in her step father’s red Volkswagen in 1962, but that is another story.

 A photograph surfaced recently during the making of the Doc Pomus movie “AKA Doc Pomus”, of that Trader Dan’s boy at his first recording session at Columbia Records in late 1964.

 I had sailed out of Charlotte Amalie  at dawn on July 2nd, 1964 on a fifty foot Ketch rigged Sloop called “The Success” heading for Coconut Grove/Dinner Key, Miami, Florida.

A month at sea and a few weeks later, I found myself in N.Y. I was immediately signed by Doc Pomus and then Columbia Records. I was just turning 19.

 Absolutely no one has ever missed his home town, his friends and our fantastically free life any more than I did in those first years away from home. The life that we shared and my longing for it, has informed every bit of my music since.

 I am posting the photo of that displaced Trader Dan’s/Duffy’s/Sand Box boy’s first Columbia recording session.

Here it is

Here it is

I am posting the song “South Atlantic Blues” which more than any other captured the depth of emotion that I was feeling in those days,

South Atlantic Blues

 And I am posting the recent recording of my song  “Sure Has Been Good Loving You Baby” which accurately reflects the way that I feel and have always felt about the beautiful girls/young women of that time and place.

Sure Has Been Good Scott Fagan And The MAAC Island Band

 I will dedicate this to Patricia, Bonnie Barr, Jeanette, Barbara, Kathleen, Harriet, Delia, April, Lotus and Bite Size, and to all the girls and boys who lived and loved (and died) in our crazy never never I’land.

 Thank you Bite Size, and God Bless us all.. now, then and forever.   

Scott Fagan, On the road, in the states, still singing about it.. and you all. June, 2013.

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 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”

Book 4. “Sloop John B”

February 13, 2011 3 comments

Book 4. “Sloop John B”

Here is an interesting cut from the new CD “Scott Fagan And The MAAC Island Band” LIVE! “Shake A Bum”. “Sloop John B” is one of very few tunes that I do that is not one of my own. This is how I did it in Nassau on my way from St. Thomas  (on the 50 foot Ketch “Success”) to sign with Doc Pomus and Columbia Records  in  July of 1964. 

 “Sloop John B” has been a part of me for so long now that it is completely filled with nostalgia. Which means that when I sing it, I of course, think of home and each and all of you…

This is how I felt the song then and how I feel the song now.  I hope that you will feel it too, I do believe that you know exactly what I mean.

SLOOP JOHN B MEDLEY

Trad Arr Scott Fagan

Intro..                                                             

 We came on the Sloop John B, Grandfather and Me Round Nassau Town we did roam, drinking all night we got into a fight, Oh Lord I feel so bad I want to go home.

The first mate well he got drunk He tore up the people’s trunk Constable had to come and take him away, Sheriff John Stone Please leave me alone Oh Lord I fell so bad I want to go home

 So Hoist up the John B Sail See how the mainsail sets send for the Captain ashore let me go home I want to go home Please let me go home Oh Lord I feel so bad I want to go home

 Delia Oh Delia, Delia all my life If I hadn’t ‘ave shot Delia she would have become my wife, Delia gone one more round Delia gone

 I got drunk and I shot Delia I shot her in her side, The next time I shot Delia she bowed down her head and died Delia gone one more round Delia gone

Ninety nine years hard labor Judge that’s no time, for what I’ve done to Delia it should be nine hundred ninety-nine

Delia gone one more round Delia gone

 Jailor oh Jailor, Jailor I can’t sleep, all around my bedside I hear the pattering of Delia’s feet Delia gone one more round Delia gone

 Hoist up the John B Sail See how the mainsail sets send for the Captain ashore let me go home I want to go home Please let me go home Oh Lord I feel so bad I want to go home

We came on the Sloop John B, Grandfather and Me, Round Nassau Town we did roam,  we were drinking all night we got into a fight, Oh Lord I feel so bad I want to go home.

Oh Lord I feel so bad I just want to go home.

You will find the CD here…www.thecollectedworksofscottfagan.com

Book 4. Dear Carol and Book 4. De Barracks Yad Bay And Beach Club And Book 4. “Yeah But Can You Sell 300 Tickets?”

October 12, 2010 Leave a comment

 Book 4. Dear Carol and Book 4. De Barracks Yad Bay And Beach Club And Book 4. “Yeah But Can You Sell 300 Tickets?”

 Dear Carol,

Please forgive me for not responding more quickly, I was away from my computer and in New York, as you will see later in today’s postings.

Gale and I have thought of you, your big sister Ruth your little brother Kent or “Kennet” (as people call him), and your parents, many more times than I can say. I am very sorry to report to you that Gale died not long ago (April of 08) and up and to that time we spoke about you and your family often and with great fondness.

I recently did a concert at the “J. Antonio Jarvis Museum and Learning Center” in Pollyburg, which is also the defacto home of “We from Upstreet” (an organization that you may be familiar with, or may find interesting to look into.)

In any case, because of the time that Gale and I spent living “Upstreet” (we had already moved twice, and had been in both Catholic and Nisky schools before coming  upstreet) I was invited to join the organization and I did with great pleasure.

 During  the concert I performed a spoken word piece called “De Barracks Yad Bay And Beach Club” which was very well received, I am posting it here again today in hopes that you will enjoy it. There is much more to write about the people, places and things of upstreet and you can be quite sure that you will find the Daniels family therein.

I have seen Kent from time to time through the years and have often asked about you and Ruth, I am glad to know that you are well and I certainly hope that she is also. Please pass my warmest regards along to her if you can, and know that because of your many kindnesses the memory of you and your family is always with me. Do you remember our little club and its Theme Song “Home Home on The Range”? Yep! And when we children would pack a little picnic lunch and follow Ruth along “Beljan Road” to go swimming at “Long Bay” (before Pearson Gardens and Yacht Haven?) Yep and.. and..well, God Bless you Carol, thank you for writing. My email address is scott@lilfish.com looking forward!  

Book 4. 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!

 Book 4. “Yeah But Can You Sell 300 Tickets?”

 I have been a Recording Artist since I first signed with Columbia Records in the fall of 1964, and have been subject or exposed to most every original and derivative permutation of art/music and business related bull jive steamin’. Every hipper than thou conceit, confabulation, confusion, slight of hand obfustication (compounded I confess by crock pots of chemistry guaranteed to lift the veil, and expose the heart of matter AND the matter too, listened to every triple speaking squeaky charlatan and predatory Piranha, every well intentioned honey, and her Father AND her Mother, Cuzuncle, Cuzauntie, Police Chief, School teacher, sponsor, Chaplin, shrink, business and financial advisor and attorney, music biz, patent, copyright, real estate, personal injury and divorce. Every cross-eyed, trembling lipped visionary, explicator, explainer, translator, voice from the clouds, fortune cookie, Gypsy and know it all, know nothing available. Every ambitious author, handbook scribbler, how to coach, wanna be publicist, agent, and queen bee, every bartender, dealer, secretary of the meeting, founding director, Psychologist, Professor, lunatic and even to my partner in lilfish records, Tutsie.  And nothing has ever been quite so clear, so illuminating, so to the point, so completely question AND answer in one, so insulting and inspirational so in out all and every thing, as the question put to me this past Friday October the 8th, 2010, in New York City.  “Yeah But Can You Sell 300 Tickets?”

Continues….

BOOK 4. One year into the Memwa?

August 24, 2010 3 comments

BOOK 4. One year into the  Memwa?

I started writing the Memwa? Ten days before my sixty-fourth Birthday (Aug 16th and Aug 26) now it’s Aug 24th, two days before my sixty-fifth. I began in St. Thomas where I was recording  (or attempting to record), my new Musical “The Virgin Islands Songs”.   I’m now in the states performing my concert version of “The Virgin Islands Songs” and working with a collection of musicians from the MAAC collective as “Scott Fagan and The MAAC Island Band”.

 I started out by committing to 1000 words a day for ninety days and was able to maintain that schedule through the commitment. Since then, (or more accurately, most recently) it’s become catch as catch can. In part because of the requirements of gigging, earning my little fazools, and my commitment to the collective… I have had great fun and lots of laughs writing the Memwa? Still though, it is far from finished, and it is clear that I will need to create and sustain a  more productive Memwa? schedule.

My eyesight has gone from great to glasses to fuzzy grey all over the place; I have to do something about that also. I have much , much more work (writing and singing and other things) to do, but I am feeling oddly spooky about turning sixty-five. I am generally completely unconcerned about the chronological tick-tock but at the moment, I am becoming afraid that I won’t be able to get it done.

Part of it, a large part of it is of course, is finding my success (or my audience as we like to put it these days) and having my work recognized as having had some value and creative quality.

This particular  life area is a mishmash of emotions which I usually deal with my unusually well-developed skill at  denial, however, even I am becoming concerned that, not only will I be going too quietly into that dark night, but I will be gone without raising enough ruckus or, God help us “blowing my own horn loud enough”, to leave any thing of tangible  value for my beautiful and long, long-suffering little ones.

If I only knew  which massive boulder to roll up Everest, or which 12 foot grizzly I had to wrassel mano a mano, or what heretofore impossible cosmo-mathological equation I needed to smite and solve… but I’ve been made dumb by that question since I’m six years old. And now I’m feeling that my time is running out. And let me tell you something, call me confused or a liar, or in pre-limino flagrento dementia, but I am certain that time goes faster and faster the older you get.

 I could easily pretend that that’s all I know about getting older, but the fact is, this Peter Pan has accidentally accumulated a small treasure box of shocking and completely unexpected information (and experiential knowing) about this grey ah…I mean great and mysterious stage of life.

Possibly first and foremost in importance, is the fact that chicks don’t look at you the same. And if you’re a chick, Cats (no not kitty cats, Hip Cats) don’t look at you the same either.

(Kitty cats however, do have a whole new appreciation of older chicks and  ex Hep, now no pep, Cats. I‘ve been told that felines consider old dears in their dotage to be a special gift just for them from “Super Cat” creator of the catmos.

 Why one wonders? Have you ever heard of young people braving the elements at all hours of the day or night to set out cat food in the darkest alleys and vacant lots of this or that Urban hell? Or living in pads (house or apt) over run by kitty critters?

 Well…now that I mention it, I have. My wild Annie the Artist Girl and I once lived in a basement apartment on west 84th street, with something like eight dogs and thirty two cats, all at once. Each and every one named something or other bean. Like You Bean and New Bean and Two Bean and Who Bean and Who-You Bean and You-Hoo Bean, all the way up past thirty two Bean to forty. 

However, while we were quite young in those days, we were also smote by chemistry that looked and felt like dotage, so possibly we cornfuseled (one of Annie’s favorite words in those days) ourselves and each other and cornfuseled the critters by extension.

Another thing about getting older, is you don’t look at the chicks the same either; there seems to be a much greater awareness that they are human beans, with feelings and hearts, disappointments and dreams and deserving of consideration and human kindness. One of the realities of lusty young men is that well…while we may have heard tell that chicks had feelings…other “mating” imperatives forced their way to the fore, not blacking, but “redding” out more subtle and sensitive considerations.

Ah my Lord, it was all I… ah… I mean a lusty young man could do to keep his eyeballs from exploding out of his pounding head, and his arms from s’muffling and crushing her, and his lips from slobber-jabbering love lies and perfidiac promises ( every utterance as deeply felt as  Gospel truth, in the heat of the moment).

It was all a lusty lad could ever do and all the time too. But now? God has dashed, decreed and made it so, that the heat madness be splashed by the ice water realization that “My God, she could be my Grand Daughter” or “My God, she is my Grand Daughter!” Ah yes…

 From time to time (when I sit with old birds on a park bench like lizards in the sun), one or another will suggest that the “golden elder belles” see young men somewhat differently as well (Unless the old chick is stuck in panting mode).   I’m told that they see ‘im remarkably similarly to the young lusty “lunk noggin” that I described earlier.

I’m not surprised to hear it; I always suspected that the Grand Mamere’s had my number.

 There are a number of age-o-alities that it seems no one bothered to mention, (or if they did, it was in geriatric jargon perhaps in a treatment setting, about old, or rather, aging 60’s psychedelic casualties and how to break the news that they were what they were, to them.)

I will write what I can about all of that at another time, perhaps even exhaustively until it (and we) are exhausted. But, for the moment, the real shocker is that chicks look at you differently. (They most certainly are not seeing and responding to your beautiful, color phasing iridescent inside)

How interesting to wonder if and when there ever was a time or even a moment, in life when one’s outside was an accurate representation of who and how one really was inside.

All of that being whatever it may be, here’s what the wind whispers to me.

 “Sing for your life” and leave the rest to the Great Artist who first imagined us all.

And…Boy, stay ready for the ever-so-much more important   second set, which will be called for when you are tired to the center of your soul, and least expecting it…

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

March 4, 2010 Leave a comment

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…

Book 4. Concert Review From the Artists Point of View, Continued…

February 5, 2010 Leave a comment

Book 4. Concert Review From the Artists Point of View, Continued…

 Did I say no hanky panky at all? Well perhaps I’d better re-examine that policy. Because early “come le we goers” are arriving like crazy and they each seem to have the same idea as the first early bird. Apparently numbers of ladies have heard one or another of my recordings on the radio during the promotional blitz of this past week, and have confused me with Engelbert Humperdinck or something. Ladies  are  batting their eyes  and asking if I have any CD’s for sale and before you know it, the sound check is no more, and I am signing CD’s instead. Now, in my view, all things considered, this is not a bad start.

 The trick will be to keep the whole thing from going down hill from this point on…

Here come a number of ladies from the class of “64” who (although I did not graduate from high school) have claimed me as a member because we were classmates up to the point that I left High School, went to New York, and signed with Doc Pomus and Columbia Records.

 I was just telling the great Marcellus (Tutsie’s son and volunteer sound man for the evening) that I have to get a new pair of glasses because recently everyone beyond the second row has fuzz where their faces used to be. When folks that I know or knew, show up. some, (as people often do, ) start with “whats my name? do you remember me?” If you remember me, then whats my name?” The last thing I want to say is “no, I’m sorry I don’t because in reality, I half remember everyone. But the deeper truth is, a number of these ladies look exactly like the irate parents that used to show up at school, raising triple heck about the science teacher who was regularly found passed out at the Normandy Bar at 2:30 in the afternoon when in fact he was supposed to be in the classroom tryin’ to larn us sumpin’.

 It’s extraordinary to see the close camaraderie that still exists between these school girl lady girls, that they want me to be a part of what they share is exciting and really touching for me. However, I do wish that they had squeezed me as closely and for as long, when we were sixteen. But that’s another story.

 The place is filling up and it’s  just past five thirty, the show is scheduled to start at six. The Director of the Museum says to me, “Let’s get started” I say wait! Wait! Lee Carl is coming to film us, starting at six, and he isn’t here yet. We are spared an adrenalin fueled discussion because just then Lee pulls into the loading zone with his equipment.

 We are now moments away from face the freakin’ music and dance time (which, on the chance that it hasn’t occurred to you, is certainly among the most stressful series of moments imaginable, moments in which the question “what in the flaming hell am I doing here”  presents repeatedly, demanding an answer. Fortunately, “What am I doing here? What am I doing here? Leads nicely into “I’ll show you what I’m doing here! Oh Yeah? I’ll show you what I’m doing here! Which is a grand attitude to have when you suddenly find yourself propelled towards and then all alone at Center Stage.

In this case they gave me a fine hand just for showing up, which is again, a pretty good start. A start which in the past might have led to “well I guess I showed them” I’m outta here, (in spite of the fact that leaving at that point might have been just a little bit premature.)

 Traditionally, there has (from time to time) been a little difficulty in getting me (or me getting my self) actually onto the stage. A fine example might be the night in 1966, that Mort Shuman brought George Martin (arranger/producer of the Beatles) to see, hear and hopefully sign me, at “The Scene” in New York. Just before “Show Time” I broke a string and spent the next hour and a half chasing all over the City looking for a replacement string, rather than just doing the performance without the missing string. One can only imagine what the good man thought as he left after sitting there waiting for me for an hour and a half, and then again, what he might have said during the period in which the Beatles were considering my album “South Atlantic Blues” to be their first release on Apple Records. “Oy Say, (he might have said) this bloke’s a flukin’ flufferin” Idiot! Ay Wot!” (Just joking, I know that George Martin doesn’t really talk like that, however having only shaken his hand once just before I was to play for him, but ran away to play “find the string” instead, I don’t really know which words he would choose to use in describing yours truly, but I think we can agree that, in general, the sentiment would be about the same.

 And Ah yes, there were those occasions when in anticipation, too large a spill down the gullet, too many times in a row, may have led to yours truly making a staggering entrance from stage left and actually stumbling all the way across the stage and out the other side.

But not tonight….’cause I mean business…and here we go!

The Director has given me a nice intro, Tuts has asked me to do “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother” before I start the program, and dedicate it to “Our Brothers and Sisters and all the lost souls in Haiti” it’s a beautiful song by a great writer and singer, Bobby Scott. I do a good and sincere rendition, hitting some nice notes and ending big. It warms the heart, and breaks the ice, and gets an appreciative response.

 We move into my script and first up is “Annalee”

I will (for the first time) be utilizing my own pre-recorded music tracks for four of the tunes, because I think they will be more effective that way. I have had all kinds of philosophical problems with the idea, but the overriding fact is, I want the audience to experience the songs as closely as possible to the way that I so carefully recorded them, and holding out for absolute purity has shown it’s self to be counter productive and in my case, absolutely silly.

 If you are offended by my use of my music tracks, I apologize, I am sincerely sorry. (please consider that this is a free concert, and I have no budget or bonaroos to rehearse and pay a band AND no band to play it for free AND that I have held out on this question for forty five years)  That said, what a  pleasure it is for me to sing against the music from “Annalee” and what an enthusiastic response it receives from the audience …

 Next is two little pieces of poetry “A Kindness Here And A Kindness There” and “Do You Like My Color, Like I like Yours” they are well received.

Then I throw on the battle-axe and slide into “SOON” the theme of my Rock Opera (which happens to be the first Musical ever written by a Virgin Islander to be produced on Broadway) “SOON” is a powerful and passionate song speaking a commitment to justice, brotherhood and equality, that is the direct product of my own Virgin Islands childhood. I still feel it, and sing it that way. The folks are excited and stimulated and let loose with enthusiastic applause.

 Off comes the guitar and I begin to read “The Girl With The Golden Skin”. The audience has never heard anything quite like it and they sit in anticipation waiting to see what will happen…zamo they erupt in laughter and  seem to quickly realize that this piece will be going back and forth between humor, poetic language and strong sentiment. It ends  with a truth about color ,often unspoken but true nevertheless. It gets a big hand… The people seem eager, for more, they like the songs and they like the poetry, so far so good!

I signal Marcel and he starts the track for the La Beiga Carosuel/Tutsie medley, a song that always gets ‘im regardless of who what when where and why. Tonight, its eliciting encouragement and whoops galore from the very start. When we get to the instrumental section, and I start to “wuk up” and shake my bum, they go a little wild, it’s wonderful.

We come back with a tender last verse and take it out in the joyous defiance that the song exemplifies. We get a rousing round of really enthusiastic applause. Next, is another spoken piece, “I Dreamed I Made A Record Called South Atlantic Blues” and then, on with the guitar and into the song “South Atlantic Blues”. This song has always been a unique and powerful experience for me as a writer and singer, it is now forty-five years old but (based on the content) it could have been written yesterday. It’s a pleasure to sing and play it, and hitting the high drama notes and the sweet dynamics passages is very satisfying for me, the audience seems to feel the same way and shows it.

That was the end of ACT l,

 I went straight into  the spoken introduction to ACT ll it’s called:

 “SOOKIES WESTERN JAMBOREE”

 “Some of you good people will remember that once upon a time we had one radio station in The Virgin Islands, WSTA.  A wonderful station that did it’s best to play something for everyone. This meant that we were all exposed to every kind of music.

Believing in music as I do, I believe that this wide exposure had a very positive effect On us all. Among the varieties that we enjoyed was good old Southern Gospel and what they called back then, Country and Western.

 At 3 O’clock in the afternoon the islands looked forward to a show hosted by a young Buckaroo from Frenchtown called “Sookiess Western Jamboree”. The show featured artists like the great Hank Williams, Gentleman Jim Reeves, Faron Young, Skeeter Davis and Patsy Cline and songs like “You’re Cheatin Heart” “Cold Cold Heart “Send Me The Pillow That You Dream On” “He’ll Have To Go” and many many others.

 In those days as you know we here in The Virgin Islands had a number of our own “Home grown cowboys” young (and old) rough and ready hombres who worked and lived out in the  wild wild East, West, North and South sides, and rode their horses all over the place, and once a year, in the big Carnival Parades.

In addition to the working cowboys, there were a number of fellows in town who had perhaps been too strongly influenced by the Western Movies that played at The Apollo, The Alexander, and The Center Theater what seemed like every day and night of every week of every month of every year for many years running. These home-grown desperadoes, certainly considered themselves to be the real deal also, and as romantic a figure as any other cowpoke anywhere and they were.

 Anyway, as  noted elsewhere, I intended to grow up to be Gene Autry the singing Cowboy. So naturally I was very interested in learning how to “make up” songs like those that we heard, on Sookies Western Jamboree, in the movies and in the Saturday morning Children’s stories so kindly broadcast for us by WSTA.

 The next Virgin Islands song grew directly out of these parts of WSTA’s influence on our lives, an influence for which I will be eternally grateful.

So here we go. In remembrance of Sookie’s Western Jamboree and our very own Caribilly Cowboys. A little Caribilly Christmas Song for all the children in all of the warm weather places in the world, our very own “Sandy The Bluenosed Reindeer”

 (The audience remembered Sookies show and that wonderful time in our collective musical history right away and although they had never heard this spoken intro before, they actually began to echo my words as we went through it, and then gave a wonderfully warm reception to Sandy The Bluenosed Reindeer both before and after I sang it.

Can’t beat that.

This sweet momentum led us into “Captain Hookfoot”  an eight minute piece of spoken Calypso humor about a character I created called “Buckra De Paehae” and Pirate Treasure and Jumbies. (Buckra means poor white. Paehae means white man, in French Creole) It is written and delivered in Calypso (the language of my childhood, an idiom which lends its self wonderfully well to broad, exaggerated and colorful Island humor) Hookfoot was the biggest hit of the night so far. I said to my self “Wow, So far so good, now for Gods sake, don’t choke on a mosquito or something.” I knew the next tune “Where My Lover has Gone”  was pretty good, it’s been a hit for me for years. It’s a great tune to sing. On went the guitar and from the first C MAJ 7th we were in the groove.

Next up was another humorous spoken Calypso piece called “The Barracks Yad Bay And beach Club” about a (now gone) UPSTREET neighborhood  fondly remembered by all, and the building of the waterfront drive. The folks loved it and… we were on to “Surrender To The Sun” this song is a definite hit for me and this time I sang it against a most beautiful new track produced for me by Warren Schatz. It was absolutely beautiful. The audience could not have been more receptive and I did what I could to sing the heck out of it. Very beautiful, very romantic very much a success.

Next was another spoken Calypso piece called “The Inheritance Box” about the History of the Illustrious often blusterous “House of Buckra De Paehae”  it’s also quite funny. The people laughed it up and loved it too.

Which brought us to a poetic little piece called “The Reason We Sing” which doubled as an introduction to “The Virgin Islands Song”  which is the theme and the finale.

We utilized the  musical track featuring Jeff Medina’s beautiful guitar work., I sang the heck out of it and it was a smash. The applause was so effusive that I was frankly, a little embarrassed…I bid the good folks good night and told them truthfully that they had been my favorite audience of all time ever anywhere.  

We got back to signing CDs, and getting  to the Kalaloo.

All in all it was simply wonderful; I really do wish you were here.

Book 2. Give Love A Chance…

January 7, 2010 Leave a comment
Book 2. Give Love A Chance… 

In the Summer of 1966 I was living on East 60th street (just down from a wonderful little shop called “Serendipity”) under the wing of my extraordinary friend Roberta Wolfe, Roberta, was a high fashion, artist girl living on the top floor of, a classy three story Brownstone, owned by the Shubert family when she fell in with me. 

She provided shelter, hugs and human kindness (as well as the brown paper bag that I wrote “Give Love A Chance” on.)We met at Steve Paul’s “The Scene” where I had become the house singer, and she was one of a number of hip New York artist chicks that looked amazing and created magic and excitement (like some pixie dust back draft) every where they went. The Scene was an exciting and very cool environment, full of young up and coming graduates of “Music and Art” (the New York City High School that “FAME” was based on) and hip cool creative folks from every discipline and inclination from London, LA. And everywhere in between. I was ahead of most of the up and comers, in that I had already been signed by Columbia Records, and was being managed by Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman, two living legends of Rock And Roll.

I was also an anomaly in that I was obviously a ruffian with no formal education who “sang like an angel” a hundred and twenty pounds of passionate pretty white boy from de Islands “who come tu change de worl mon!” 

The extraordinary Roberta and I had a “best of pals” or “sweet pally hearts” or some such, or another “it’s complicated” kind of arrangement. 

The primary complicating factor was that I was “in love” with four other girls, all of whom thought they felt the same about me. (One of them was”Pixie” the beautiful dreamer that was the inspiration for “Give Love A Chance”) Did I mention it was the summer of ’66?. …You can imagine the complications. 

 However, Roberta was also a kind of business partner, I was being managed and produced by Mort Shuman, (who along with Doc Pomus had written (among many others) “Teenager In Love” “Hushabye” “Sweets For My Sweet” “This Magic Moment” and “Save The Last Dance For Me” and yes, “Viva Las Vegas”) Roberta had taken on the “social secretary responsibility” for him of making sure that every thing relating to me and music and business, got done on time. Ah…the dear thing had her hands full.

As noted, I had written “Give Love A Chance” on a brown paper bag at Roberta’s pad and now we were about to record it along with “Tutsie” a song that I had written in honor of my good friend back in the Islands. 

I was ultra serioso about the songs and the upcoming recording session (which was being produced at Associated Studios in NYC, by Mort and the great Kookoolis.) 

So, finally we were at the point where the session was scheduled for 7:00 PM the next evening, In order to be rested and well prepared, I insisted on going to bed around 8:00 PM with my noggin and throat all wrapped up like Caruso. I had jars of honey and slices of lemon all over the place, along with pots of steaming hot water, and countless wrapping towels and wash cloths. In addition, I wanted at least an hour and a half in advance of “Taxi time”, to “tune up the pipes” 

When I opened my peepers the clock said 6:30, I looked out the window and saw it was getting dark, I freaked out. I jumped out of bed, grabbed my battle-axe, flew down the stairs and started hailing taxis, with Roberta steps behind. We jumped into the first one to stop and in a panic I asked the driver, “what time is it, what time is it” He looked back over his shoulder and said, “It’s 6:30 in the morning Bub, whadindahell time do you think it is? Ah..the poor girl. Thank you Roberta for your many kindnesses and please forgive me for my own stupidities. I am sorry. 

I had already done two other singles sessions before” Give Love A Chance” (One for Columbia with Wes Farrel producing, and the other for Big Top Records, with Morty producing) and numerous demo sessions, so I was not a complete novice, however this session was especially important to me, in that these were my own tunes, I thought “Give Love A Chance” might make some difference in the world, and I knew very acutely that my Mother and younger brothers were depending on me to rescue them from want. I was determined that one way or the other, I would come through for them…and the world. 

There were a few things that ping ponged my noggin about the recordings. First, the third (and wrap up) verse of “Give Love A Chance” was eleminated before the record was released because the record (at 3:15) was considered too long for radio play, the ideal time for a single was thought to be 2:15, (I was told that the time preference was based on how many commercials you could fit into the hour..pero yo no se) Also,while I was a relatively experienced singer, I was new at recording my own songs. This created an odd tension for me in that the singer wanted to be free to interpret the song, but the writer felt it was paramount to demonstrate the melody exactly and verbatim. 

On “Tutsie” you can hear this conflict very clearly; I just didn’t know what to do about it. The same conflict shows up again here and there on South Atlantic Blues. The solution ultimately, is to do a fairly exact song demo which then allows one the freedom to “sing it like you wanna” there after. 

The recordings got me signed to BANG Records by Bert Berns ((He wrote Twist and Shout, Hang On Sloopy and many others) Bert was a really hot up and coming writer/record company owner music business impressario, I was one of three singer songwriters that he signed to his label at once. The others were Neil Diamond, and Van Morrison. The others had their breakthrough, but during the week leading up to my first release, Bert Berns had a heart attack and died. It was a sad sad day in the music business; Bert was well liked, and highly regarded, people expected great things from him, as did I… 

 The songs went on to be big jukebox hits in the V.I. Here’s “Give Love A Chance” and below it is “Tutsie” as first recorded in the summer of 1966.

Give Love A Chance 

I know just where you’re at and what you’re going through 

I know uncertainty has won the best of you 

I know you’re lost, and all your friends are too 

And when your crying and you don’t know what to do 

You ought to.. 

Give Love a Chance to make you happy 

and it will and it will 

Give love a chance to make you happy 

and it will and it will 

When your tomorrows are the same as yesterday 

And your belief in live has slowly faded way 

When there’s no laughing or..crying anymore 

There’s only sleeping and.. news about the war 

You ought to.. 

Give Love a Chance to make you happy 

and it will and it will 

Give love a chance to make you happy 

and it will and it will 

And if you could things would be so much more than right 

Every cross you’re carrying would vanish overnight 

And the days of laughter and tears would come again 

And to your surprise you’d be a winner in the end… 

You ought to… 

Give Love a Chance to make you happy 

And it will and it will 

Give love a chance to make you happy 

and it will and it will 

Here’s “Tutsie 

And a skinny little fellow looks a little bit like me, 

Lives on an Island in the Caribbean sea 

And he drinks straight cane rum from an old calabash 

And with those Island girls, lord he really is a smash 

And he lives off the tourists with the greatest of ease, 

Why I’ve even seen him selling bags of cool Island breeze 

He lives high on a mountain in an old sugar mill 

He wants to be a Pirate, I know someday he will. 

He spends all his days cooling out in Trader Dan’s, 

There’s no time for working in my friend Tutsie’s plans 

He wears a pretty flower tucked up in an old straw hat 

But if you should try to fight him, he’d show you where it’s at. 

And he lives off the tourists with the greatest of ease, 

Why I’ve even seen him selling bags of cool Island breeze 

He lives high on a mountain in an old sugar mill 

He wants to be a Pirate, I know someday he will. 

I wish I were like Tutsie and could do as I please, 

then I’d be barefoot at the Foxes’ Tamarindo 

And I’d drink straight cane rum from an old calabash 

And with those Island girls, lord, I’d really be a smash 

And I’d live off the tourists with the greatest of ease, 

And have fun selling bags of cool Island breeze 

I’d live high on a mountain in an old sugar mill 

And someday I’d be a Pirate, you know someday I will. 

After realizing what I had done, I wanted to give the song Tutsie another opportunity to be heard, so I stuck it in the middle of La Beiga Carousel. Here’s the most recent recording of the medley as it appears in “The Virgin Islands Songs”. 

La Beiga Carousel (From Scott Fagan’s “The Virgin Islands Songs”)

Man I would walk and drink rum de whole night, 

before me go ride on La Beiga Carousel 

Man I would walk and drink rum de whole night, 

before me go ride on La Beiga Carousel 

Come go home come go home Cecebelle, 

tonight we’ain gon ride on La Beiga Carousel 

Come go home come go home Cecebelle, 

tonight we’ain gon ride on La Beiga Carousel 

And a skinny little fellow looks a little bit like me, 

Lives on an Island in the Caribbean sea 

And he drinks straight cane rum from an old calabash 

And with those Island girls, lord he really is a smash 

And he lives off the tourists with the greatest of ease, 

Why I’ve even seen him selling bags of cool Island breeze 

He lives high on a mountain in an old sugar mill 

He wants to be a Pirate, I know someday he will. 

An’ I’ll walk and drink rum whole night, 

before me go ride on Labeiga Carousel 

Man I’ll walk and drink rum whole night, 

before me go ride on Labeiga Carousel 

And he spends all his days cooling out in Trader Dan’s, 

There’s no time for working in my friend Tutsie’s plans 

He wears a pretty flower tucked up in an old straw hat 

But if you should try to fight him, he’d show you where it’s at. 

And he lives off the tourists with the greatest of ease, 

Why I’ve even seen him selling bags of cool Island breeze 

He lives high on a mountain in an old sugar mill 

He wants to be a Pirate, I know someday he will. 

An’ I’ll walk and drink rum whole night, 

before me go ride on Labeiga Carousel 

Man I’ll walk and drink rum whole night, 

before me go ride on Labeiga Carousel 

And I wish I were like Tutsie and could do as I please, 

then I’d be barefoot at the Foxes’ Tamarindo 

And I’d drink straight cane rum from an old calabash 

And with those Island girls, lord, I’d really be a smash 

And I’d live off the tourists with the greatest of ease, 

And have fun selling bags of cool Island breeze 

I’d live high on a mountain in an old sugar mill 

And someday I’d be a Pirate, you know someday I will. 

Man I would walk and drink rum de whole night, 

before me go ride on La Beiga Carousel 

Man I would walk and drink rum de whole night, 

before me go ride on La Beiga Carousel 

Come go home come go home Cecebelle, 

tonight we’ain gon ride on La Beiga Carousel 

Come go home come go home Cecebelle, 

tonight we’ain gon ride on La Beiga Carousel