The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #40845   Message #4127779
Posted By: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
02-Dec-21 - 03:52 AM
Thread Name: ADD: jamaican folk music
Subject: RE: ADD: jamaican folk music
Forewarned - the exact time line for 1954 is more than a little noisy.

Why Louise Bennett wouldn't/couldn't get the Argo release gig; and why in the name of Hugh Paget a Trinidadian was chosen to present/preserve 'authentic' Jamaican folk-song is lost to history at present.

Nothing against Edric Connor but, by 1954 Tom Murray et al had gone off track and Louise Bennett had gone to New York City. Here's the really fun bits:

“Stinson Records, a folk recording company in the village, invited us to record an album. Earl Robinson*, the gifted left-wing balladeer and composer of such songs as “Ballad for Americans” and “The House I Live In,” arranged an audition with Max Gordon, owner of the Village Vanguard. At the same time Earl introduced me to a Jamaican folklorist and actress, Louise Bennett, who had just arrived in New York after studying at the Royal Academy of Arts in London.

I worked over a few things with Louise and had her join us** for a couple of numbers and street cries at the audition. Max Gordon hired the group on the spot and gave us two weeks to get ready. We spent the time blending Louise into the group and work in in some of her material. She was a plump, jolly, attractive woman, who dressed in Jamaican folk garb, and cut an imposing figure….

The group was well received at the Vanguard. It was my first regular club appearance in New York, and it felt good. “Lord Burgess (Max Gordon gave me the name***) and the Sun Islanders” was the first Caribbean-style group to come along, so we were a novelty. We spent six weeks at the Vanguard, but the group didn't really jell, and Louise's manager**** entertained the idea of her going out as a single….”
[Burgie, Day O!!!, (New York: Caribe, 2006)]

* So Robinson was hanging with Louise Bennett while he co-wrote Black & White (Seeger, '56) with David I. Arkin at roughly the same time the latter's son Alan was 'adapting' the Tarriers' cover of Bennett's Hill & Gully/Banana Boat/Day O. Just sayin'.

** Irving Burgie was the only non-Jamaican in the quartet. None of the on-line Louise Bennett 'bios' mention Lord Burgess &co when noting her Village Vanguard appearance.

***And from this we know the Stinson recording under the new stage name must come sometime after the May Vanguard date.

****Louise's 'manager' was Jamaican entertainer/impresario Eric “Chalk Talk” Coverley. The two had known each other since c.1936 and got hitched while she was appearing at the Vanguard with Burgie &co. Busy year!

The are a few of the Murray/Bennett songbook tunes on Burgie's 1954 Stinson release but Day O! isn't one of them. Best I can figure, he would not record his own take until the 80s.