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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!

 

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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.

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..

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”