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‘Scrappy’ was great at 2011 ‘LitFest’ of the Word Signals greatness for 50th Anniversary Festival

A review by David Edgecombe

Scrappy and Pops Morris

The Cultural Centre in Montserrat holds 500 people, but when Scrappy bounced onto the stage on Friday November 11, there were only five of us in the auditorium. (Okay, allow for some exaggeration, but not much).  For the next two hours, he performed as if we were 5,000 fans energizing him, whipping him on.

It was an incredible feat! And by time he got to his Last Lap jam with its nod to Arrow, “Aaaaaarrrrroooow! Ah calling you, Aaaaaarrrrroooow!” the five of us felt like 5,000. Last Lap is clearly Scrappy’s hot number for Festival 2011 and it’s already starting to burn up the place.

Like Arrow, Scrappy is not big in stature, he’s big in voice. He’s a tenor, a strong tenor and he knows exactly what to do and what he’s doing with his voice all the time. He varied his pitch effortlessly, now a whisper, now a scream, now a growl, and he never lost control once.

He occupied the stage. His favorite stance is facing the audience, body at a slight angle one foot in front of the other rocking backward on forward like a stallion raring to go. As the tempo built he would get on the back foot making a quick action like a pace bowler delivering a ‘cut-troat’. Then he would erupt on stage belting out lyrics at rapid-fire pace. Only when he slowed the band down saying “hold de cord, dey fu me, hold it right dey,” I’m able to catch most of the lyrics, some of which are clever.

With the band muted, the tempo at a crawl he launched into Always Home. It is a ballad, an anthem of sorts for Montserratians forced by an angry volcano to roam the world:

No matter where I go

No matter where I roam

Tell dem I say da Montserrat’s my home

Even if they take me to the lands unknown

Tell them I say that Montserrat’s my home

 

They can offer car and house and plenty jewelry,

Don’t cry because I’m coming back

I’m coming back

I’m coming back…

When he was done, his audience of five was transfixed. I wanted to run go chose my house spot and start making plans for coming back.

It was some night. I had arrived earlier from St. Thomas for the Alliougana Festival of the Word where I’m giving a presentation called Obeah in Old Story Time, and was taken straight from the airport to a welcome party Governor Adrian Davis was holding for the participants. From there we went to the Cultural Center for the opening of the Festival and the launching of two new books, Behind God Back, the latest volume of poetry by Howard Fergus, and The Ill Concepts of the Caribbean Woman – “eleven chapters of entwining social stigmas” – by Jo-Annah Richards, her first book.

The book launch was followed by the music concert featuring Scrappy.

It was a long day, but I stayed to hear Scrappy. I had seen him perform just once before about eight or ten years ago and thought he was the most exciting calypsonian to immerge from Montserrat in a long time. I wanted to see what he had going.

Premier Reuben Meade was among the five of us there. The band, Volcanics opened with a reggae version of Bob Dylan’s Knocking on Heavens Door. It was a very tight, gutsy version that signaled this might not be a wasted night. Then Everton “Pops” Morris took the stage to belt out a number of tunes. I was pleasantly surprised because I know Pops as a primo graphic artist and painter but not as a singer.

Scrappy in action

As the band moved on to the opening riff of Raydio’s “The Sword Man,” Pops said, “This is for David Edgecombe, who would remember it well,” a nod no doubt to the fact that years ago I produced Festival Hits Vol. I, the album on which the song appears.

The Premier leaned over to me and said, “Would you believe that song is over 20 years old and still sounding so fresh?” This festival actually marks the 31st anniversary of The Sword Man.

I told the Premier it’s amazing the amount of good songs that have come out of Montserrat over the years. He said, “We’re planning to package as many of them as we can for the 50th Anniversary of the Festival next year.”

I said, “Wonderful. I hope you’re also going to bring back Lord Alfredo from London, in recognition of his contributions to the road-march.”

He said, “We’re hoping to do that and much more. We want to bring back all the old kings as well. We want the 50th to be a grand affair. We’re even hoping that with proper treatment Raydio will be able to sing.” Both Raydio and Lord “Sarlfish” Alfredo suffer from mental illness. I don’t know about Lord Alfredo’s current condition but Raydio, who still lives on Montserrat, is almost totally incapacitated.

As Pops was singing the Sword Man, Tabu materialized on stage and Pops gladly gave him the mic. Again, no doubt a nod to those mystic calypsonians from the North: Raydio, Tabu and Rabo who added their own unique flavor to the annual collection of Festival songs in the 70s and 80s.

Tabu told me his 2011 Festival songs were released at the end of October and one of them is number one on ZJB Radio.  He composed all the songs, played all the music and recorded the tracks at his own studio. More than that, he said most of the calypsonians are ready to release. Clearly, dem guys ain’t makin’ joke.

But the night belonged to Scrappy, giving his all to his audience of five. He was in the music. He was in his zone. In his head 50,000 people had to have been jamming along with him. I’d love to be in ‘Strat next month when he’s rocking a real hot and ready audience pointing up to the sky with him, shouting, “Aaaaaarrrrroooow! Ah calling  you…”

Post Script

After the show I tried to buy some of Scrappy’s CDs. He said he didn’t have any. I asked how could that be? He said Customs charges him 45% duty on CDs, so he can’t afford to bring them in.

Clearly, if this is true, it’s not good for the advancement of the artist, nor of the art form. And this is a resource we should be bending over backwards to develop.

Premier Ruben, ah calling you…

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A Moment with the Registrar of Lands

A review by David Edgecombe

Scrappy and Pops Morris

The Cultural Centre in Montserrat holds 500 people, but when Scrappy bounced onto the stage on Friday November 11, there were only five of us in the auditorium. (Okay, allow for some exaggeration, but not much).  For the next two hours, he performed as if we were 5,000 fans energizing him, whipping him on.

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It was an incredible feat! And by time he got to his Last Lap jam with its nod to Arrow, “Aaaaaarrrrroooow! Ah calling you, Aaaaaarrrrroooow!” the five of us felt like 5,000. Last Lap is clearly Scrappy’s hot number for Festival 2011 and it’s already starting to burn up the place.

Like Arrow, Scrappy is not big in stature, he’s big in voice. He’s a tenor, a strong tenor and he knows exactly what to do and what he’s doing with his voice all the time. He varied his pitch effortlessly, now a whisper, now a scream, now a growl, and he never lost control once.

He occupied the stage. His favorite stance is facing the audience, body at a slight angle one foot in front of the other rocking backward on forward like a stallion raring to go. As the tempo built he would get on the back foot making a quick action like a pace bowler delivering a ‘cut-troat’. Then he would erupt on stage belting out lyrics at rapid-fire pace. Only when he slowed the band down saying “hold de cord, dey fu me, hold it right dey,” I’m able to catch most of the lyrics, some of which are clever.

With the band muted, the tempo at a crawl he launched into Always Home. It is a ballad, an anthem of sorts for Montserratians forced by an angry volcano to roam the world:

No matter where I go

No matter where I roam

Tell dem I say da Montserrat’s my home

Even if they take me to the lands unknown

Tell them I say that Montserrat’s my home

 

They can offer car and house and plenty jewelry,

Don’t cry because I’m coming back

I’m coming back

I’m coming back…

When he was done, his audience of five was transfixed. I wanted to run go chose my house spot and start making plans for coming back.

It was some night. I had arrived earlier from St. Thomas for the Alliougana Festival of the Word where I’m giving a presentation called Obeah in Old Story Time, and was taken straight from the airport to a welcome party Governor Adrian Davis was holding for the participants. From there we went to the Cultural Center for the opening of the Festival and the launching of two new books, Behind God Back, the latest volume of poetry by Howard Fergus, and The Ill Concepts of the Caribbean Woman – “eleven chapters of entwining social stigmas” – by Jo-Annah Richards, her first book.

The book launch was followed by the music concert featuring Scrappy.

It was a long day, but I stayed to hear Scrappy. I had seen him perform just once before about eight or ten years ago and thought he was the most exciting calypsonian to immerge from Montserrat in a long time. I wanted to see what he had going.

Premier Reuben Meade was among the five of us there. The band, Volcanics opened with a reggae version of Bob Dylan’s Knocking on Heavens Door. It was a very tight, gutsy version that signaled this might not be a wasted night. Then Everton “Pops” Morris took the stage to belt out a number of tunes. I was pleasantly surprised because I know Pops as a primo graphic artist and painter but not as a singer.

Scrappy in action

As the band moved on to the opening riff of Raydio’s “The Sword Man,” Pops said, “This is for David Edgecombe, who would remember it well,” a nod no doubt to the fact that years ago I produced Festival Hits Vol. I, the album on which the song appears.

The Premier leaned over to me and said, “Would you believe that song is over 20 years old and still sounding so fresh?” This festival actually marks the 31st anniversary of The Sword Man.

I told the Premier it’s amazing the amount of good songs that have come out of Montserrat over the years. He said, “We’re planning to package as many of them as we can for the 50th Anniversary of the Festival next year.”

I said, “Wonderful. I hope you’re also going to bring back Lord Alfredo from London, in recognition of his contributions to the road-march.”

He said, “We’re hoping to do that and much more. We want to bring back all the old kings as well. We want the 50th to be a grand affair. We’re even hoping that with proper treatment Raydio will be able to sing.” Both Raydio and Lord “Sarlfish” Alfredo suffer from mental illness. I don’t know about Lord Alfredo’s current condition but Raydio, who still lives on Montserrat, is almost totally incapacitated.

As Pops was singing the Sword Man, Tabu materialized on stage and Pops gladly gave him the mic. Again, no doubt a nod to those mystic calypsonians from the North: Raydio, Tabu and Rabo who added their own unique flavor to the annual collection of Festival songs in the 70s and 80s.

Tabu told me his 2011 Festival songs were released at the end of October and one of them is number one on ZJB Radio.  He composed all the songs, played all the music and recorded the tracks at his own studio. More than that, he said most of the calypsonians are ready to release. Clearly, dem guys ain’t makin’ joke.

But the night belonged to Scrappy, giving his all to his audience of five. He was in the music. He was in his zone. In his head 50,000 people had to have been jamming along with him. I’d love to be in ‘Strat next month when he’s rocking a real hot and ready audience pointing up to the sky with him, shouting, “Aaaaaarrrrroooow! Ah calling  you…”

Post Script

After the show I tried to buy some of Scrappy’s CDs. He said he didn’t have any. I asked how could that be? He said Customs charges him 45% duty on CDs, so he can’t afford to bring them in.

Clearly, if this is true, it’s not good for the advancement of the artist, nor of the art form. And this is a resource we should be bending over backwards to develop.

Premier Ruben, ah calling you…