Music was EW’s dream. He wanted to become a better guitar player and to play with other cruisers of the same mind. I’m a groupie, a groupie who is delighted to enjoy the music and the magical moments with him.
I also find my own magical moments while he’s playing. The photo above tickled me. These three were enjoying the music and the bar--not necessarily in that order. One of these didn’t get the memo about loud blue shirts.
EW has been thrilled with the Jam Sessions in Grenada—and with the generous musicians who’ve helped him improve his playing and his singing. Twice he’s toted his guitar to Clarks Court Bay, a journey that requires two different buses and a dinghy, in order to play with Peter, or with both Peter and Tony. The proprietors of Whisper Cove Marina are welcoming for the Sunday Jam Sessions, that begin at three and continue past nine. Whisper Cove is even harder to get to than Clarks Court Bay, so they send a free van to Port Louis and Prickly Bay to pick up both musicians and audience members. Each week they offer one or two meal choices, such as cheeseburgers or fish burgers; roasted chicken, or smoked beef sandwich or quiche. We keep a running tab at the bar, and I wind my way around guitars, mandolins, and fiddles, to serve the ubiquitous Carib beer to EW so he doesn’t have to leave the session except to eat. I was starving when he finally suggested I order dinner last Sunday. Starving but happy.
Here’s some tidbits from the recent Jam Sessions:
That’s Tom from Tilly Wind on the left with the mandolin, EW on guitar and Tony also on mandolin. Tony organizes the sessions and has played mandolin and fiddle with professionals. He’s from Australia, but his boat is the Ragin’ Cajun and his favorite genre is Cajun music. Go figure. We met him in Bequia on a party aboard La Luna, and he generously invited EW and his guitar aboard his boat for a private jam session. It was the moment EW been waiting for nearly a year.
Note Carl standing in the back. He didn’t have a guitar… then.
I met Caroline from S/V Petit Fleur in Bequia when she attended John’s yoga sessions. She and her husband, Urs, have attended all of the jam sessions, with Urs on guitar and Caroline on recorder for the folk songs.
EW hit it off with Peter and LeeAnn, from S/V Too Much Fun. Peter has played professionally, including with our friend Jonathan Edwards. Peter has also spent time recently teaching EW a few tricks. As you can see, EW isn’t trying to contain his joy at finding folks to play music with.
I’m not sure whether this little guy enjoyed the music. He did like the cold water drops that had condensed on the Coke bottle.
Carl found a cruiser who wanted to sell a guitar and snatched it up, and then practiced all week to join the jam session.
He’s a natural.
It turns out that EW can carry a tune in a bucket. He’s no Dylan, but then again, I don’t think Bob Dylan can sing, either. While it’ll probably be a cold day in H.E. Double Hockey Sticks before Jon Edwards sings a duet with EW, EW did a great job with one of “our” songs, Boats to Build by Guy Clark. Tony had coached EW regarding singing and I’m not sure who was more pleased by EW’s performance, me, EW or Tony.
(I got all melty.)
Marie, one of the owners of Whisper Cove Marina, loves to have the group come and play, so they willingly learned a couple of songs for her. Here they are enjoying a rousing chorus of “A Horse with No Name”. That’s Jim standing next to Marie. He plays guitar, banjo, and the harmonica. He also totes along a bag of percussion instruments so audience members can become part of the band.
Here’s Caroline, the week she brought her didgeridoo—making Tony’s day. She had purchased it and taken lessons in .. wait for it…Northern Europe, of all places.
Two weeks later, Caroline pulled our her new instrument after dinner, a didgeridoo that she’d made from wood found on Hog Island here in Grenada.
John, from S/V Windrifter, was fascinated by the didgeridoo...
so he tried playing it.
Caroline told us that one uses circular breathing to play the instrument. Here’s how that’s explained on Wikipedia:
The didgeridoo is played with continuously vibrating lips to produce the drone while using a special breathing technique called circular breathing. This requires breathing in through the nose whilst simultaneously expelling stored air out of the mouth using the tongue and cheeks. By use of this technique, a skilled player can replenish the air in their lungs, and with practice can sustain a note for as long as desired.
Later in the evening, Caroline got out the didgeridoo and played a number with the group. Just like harmonicas these instruments have one key – and you choose that key by the length of the didgeridoo. She said she downloaded a tuning program from the web and cut the instrument a centimeter at a time to get the right sound. She played, and Tony led the rest of the group to accompany her. It was a magical moment. Caroline has mastered circular breathing, and it’s fascinating to watch her cheeks, lips and throat work together to create a continuous sound with embellishments, and vibrato.
I was the “keeper” of the bag o’ percussion this week. Anyone can pick up the bongos, tambourine, or maracas, but you have to go stand hear the musicians and keep in time with the music. A French cruising family with a high energy six-year-old daughter, had come to the restaurant for dinner with friends. Of course, the little girl was fascinated by the percussion instruments. Tony’s partner, Jess, grew up in a musical family in Ireland, but no longer plays, nor does she speak French. Nevertheless, she patiently and adeptly coached the young lady in three of the percussion instruments. Smiles all around. When the evening ended. the little girl held up her hands in the universal child speak for “Stay there,” and ran off to her mum for a bit of tutoring. When she returned, Jess and I got a gapped tooth smile and a “Bye-Bye!” We replied with an, “Au revoir.”
Finally, every musician but Jim had packed their bags and loaded their axes and pipes onto the van. Jim had stowed his banjo and harmonicas but still had his guitar out when a local young man asked him to play “The Gambler”. We’ve discovered that country music is well-loved by many in the islands. (In fact, I propose that you haven’t really heard “Ghost Riders in the Sky” until you’ve heard the Caribbean version. Really.)
Anyway, this young Grenadian, knew all the words of “The Gambler”, and encouraged us to sing the chorus so he could sing out “When to hold em!” and “When to fold “em”! It was another magical moment.