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Remembering Dominica's Oldest Musical Band

Swingin Stars - A name all over Dominica for many years, a name associated with just about every cultural activity held in Dominica, a name every Dominican can be proud of. The Band is some 38-years-old and still going strong!

It was in 1959 when a few youngsters from the Virgin Lane/Turkey Lane area decided to form a dance band. As they had no equipment, they began by using two electric radios as amplifiers, an old acoustic piano as a keyboard, with a plywood box having a string attached as a base and an old sneer drum from the Music Lovers Band as a bass drum. The brass section compromised of: one clarinet, one alto sax and one trumpet.

At an average age of fifteen, the Swingin Teens (as the band was then called) first major engagement was at Jaycees dinner and dance held at Rockaway.

The band did two other gigs around the same time, one on a tourist ship, and the other was a dance held in a living room on Jewel Street.

From then, as the musicians grew in size and age the band consolidated itself and with the help of Mr. Cecil Bellot, (decease) a new double base and drum set were purchased, the clarinet was replaced with a tenor sax and a small guitar amplifier was obtained from a retired guitarist from one of the more senior bands in Dominica.

At that time also, borrowing was the order of the day, and the Swinging Teens had to borrow equipment for every engagement to complete amplification of the electrical equipment.

Having two efficient guitarists, the band quickly got the job to accompany the calypsonians at the 1960 Carnival Calypso Competition. [Today, Swingin Stars, is still the number one back-up band for calypsonians in Dominica!]

Having made an excellent effort, the group was praised by everybody who attended the show.

By Easter of 1960, the band invested in a proper guitar amplifier and immediately earned the respect of everyone who heard the group.

The quality of Swingin Teens music improved at a tremendous pace and by the middle of 1960, the band made one more purchase, this time, a bass amplifier. It was very clear then that this musical group would be shortly a force to reckon with in the Caribbean.

After Carnival of 1961, the Swingin Teens went into recess as many of the members had to sit Senior Cambridge Exams. In November of that same year the Band was reorganised and many changes were affected:

The name was changed to Swingin Stars - One professional musician was hired to boost the brass section - The piano was dropped and a guitar was made to strum on the off-beat - A fairly large percussion sector comprising Conga, drum, bongo drum and guiro was set up - the guitar was made to play leading role in the band.

the band took engagements for Christmas 1961 and by New Years 1961/62 Swinging Stars was surely heading for the number one place in Dominica.

By 1964 Swingin Stars was a household word and in the summer of that year the band got it’s first job outside Dominica, to play at Michael’s Mount in Antigua during their carnival season.

The group then began to talk of recording and in May of 1967, Swingin Stars flew to Barbados where the band appeared on television and recorded two 45. records. the first to be released was Sparrow ‘Party” back up by “Tom Cat Mambo”.

To date the band has recorded eleven albums, and their first CD album will be on the market soon. [Here is a taste of Swingin Stars, 1997 cassette released for 1997 Carnival ! Its in RealAudo 29.2 Sec. 292kb! Here is another clip, this one is a little big. Its a Medley that I edited. -1.34 sec. 984kb.

The band has changed many of the younger members over the years, but the code of the Swingin Stars remain: Phillip Hosford - Vocals, Bingsworth Casimir - Trumpet, Norman Letang, Leader and Saxaphones and Marcel Cruickshank, former Drumer, now the band's Sound Engineer:


New Release "From Exile One"

One of Dominica's musical pioneers of original Cadence Lypso the Exile One Band, has released another new album.

The album entitled "Boomerang" which was recorded in New York and Paris contains eleven new songs.

A press release from the group states Boomerang is the eighteenth release of the group which has revolutionised Caribbean and the developing world's music for over two generation.

The release further states that work on the new album started in January last year when the group recorded and filmed thirteen of their greatest hits on an album entitled Anthology.

According to the press release, in the seventies Exile One was considered as the number one musical group all over the Caribbean and Africa as well as within the Diaspora in Europe and North America.

The new album was released world-wide on the 6th of February.

There are also other new CD released from local bands....RSB, WCK, Rough & Ready, Serenate and a news band on the scene, "The Efex Band. Details and a taste of their music late.....

New Album on CD for Ophelia

Ophelia Marie
After a long hiatus O PHELIA, Dominica and the Caribbean's foremost Lady of Song, is all set to release a new album on CD entitled "The Rhythm of the Times". The title track is a composition of Pier' Rosier of "Gazoline" fame and was programmed at Mark Off Studios. This track is a classic Pier' ROSIER number,very uptempo and somewhat different from OPHELIA's trademark laid back style.

In all the album has 11 tracks 10 of which were previously recorded but which have all been given a new treatment by arranger/keyboardist Ronald Tulle who is considered one of the three best keyboard players in the Zouk/cadence idiom. The album was tracked and mixed at Studio des Caraibes in Martinique a brand new 48 track digital facility. The horns were recorded at Studio Music Ange in PARIS.Among the highlights on the album which discerning listeners will appreciate are the very polished and professional harmonies provided by the back-up singers Regine Feline, Christiane Verloz and Jean-Luc Guanel of KWAK. Chief engineer on the project was Cameroonian Ambroise VOUNDY who was flown in from Paris specially for the album.

The album is carded for release on the 2nd of December in PARIS, and the Caribbean. The album was sheduled to have a pre-release launch on Thursday 28th November at 9 pm on Radio Caraibes in Martinique. The main broadcast partner in the French West indies for the album is Radio Caraibes. Among other activities, the station programmed a complete day with OPHELIA, and was the guest of every announcer for that day.

In support of the album a number of activities are planned: participation in the French multiple sclerosis telethon(which encompasses all of France as well as the overseas departments and territories) on the 7th of December; the shooting of video clips; radio, newspaper and TV interviews; a concert on the 19th of December in Guadeloupe and one on the 21st of December in Martinique. OPHELIA will be accompanied in the concerts by OPERATION '97 led by ace band leader Simon JURAD.

OPHELIA's new album is sure to bring a breath of fresh air to the music scene and her fans.

Many thanks to "MARK OF MUSIC PUBLISHING CO. COPT HALL ROSEAU DOMINICA" for this piece on Ophelia.


NEW IMPACT! MOVING

A new and up-coming group in Dominica - Impact! wants to make an impression with its first CD.

The band Impact! was born after the winds of Marilyn (1995) blew back home to Dominica, an integral part whom was missing. That's, drummer, Lloyd Emmanuel.

The band took off well but ran into problems with one member and the schedule which was being preparing for the band.

The members worked long and hard hours and by December 1995 they were preparing for a show at the Arawak, something the guys thought was premature, but in their opinion, necessary. They approached this performance as a launching, with proceeds going to the Grotto Home.

Financial returns were not very good but the performance received rave reviews from an appreciative audience.

The band had teamed up with Leng Sorhaindo and Abigail Horsford, Artherly John, Michele Henderson and Jerry Moulon, a former member of "Roots Stem And Brenches" RSB, executed an almost perfect show. By then, the group was officially Impact! and had begun gigs at a few locations like the Anchorage and Baylime.

Impact! now five in numbers, with the conclusion of Michele Henderson and Jerry Moulon, went on gigging at other locations like Good Times, Fort Young Hotel, Symzees and Wykies La Tropical. A highlight of their young career came when they opened for "Boo" Hinkson at the Kiwanis sponsored Jazz show at the Sisserou Hotel. They proceeded to accompany island great Ophelia, and Gregory Rabess for Gregory and Friends.

The CARIJAZZ Project

The real challenge came, when it was indicated to the band that an album project was included in its 1996 calendar year schedule. It received some opposition and reluctance from some individuals in the early stage, however, projections as well as some appropriate incentives were put forward.

It most definitely had its problems of various degrees, but the maturity of Freddie Nicholas served as great balance amidst the not so old and not so young of multi-backgrounds that merge so beautifully to make up Impact.!

After the rigors of composing, arranging agreeing and disagreeing, the band began the exhausting hours at Nature Island Studios, where the guys and gal (Michi), all had lots to learn from the elders such as Ken Robinson, Freddie Nicholas, Gregory 'Gregs' Rabess and from each other.

From Freddie came the track 'Caribbean Friday', from Gregs came Gregory's Groove, from Brubeck and Iola.. Take five, from Herbie Jack that wow! guitar on the title track, islander...and last and of course not least, all of the rest from the Impact! team Roland Delsol Jr. Llloyd Emmanuel, Joseph Wayland Jr., Jerry Moulon and miss Michele Henderson.

Impact! is not, neither was it meant to be an exclusive jazz band, but rather an excellent band or group of musicians dedicated to reaching the highest attainable achievement available to them.

The Album - Islander...

An extremely promising project that is without doubt, refreshing. Although rushed for the musicians and engineer, the result of four to six months of work from this one year old group is breathtaking. The band first album was launched on August 15th, 1996. Click here for 237kb 24sec taste of "Impact" music! in stereo using RealAudio 3.0!

RealAudio is available for down load
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Click here to Download


CADENCE -LYPSO .... A DOMINICAN CREATION - BY GORDON HENDERSON


Exile One CADENCE-LYPSO popularly referred to as simply cadence has been defined as a synthesis of black musical patterns in general and fundamentally afro-Caribbean in particular. Many have urged on whether cadence-lypso is Dominican music or a universal art form created by the Dominican group EXILE ONE.

Others associate that musical format to the traditional, while some seem to experience the dynamics of contemporary musical evolution.

By and large, despite varying opinions, consensus prevails on numerous essential factors. EXILE ONE’s cadence-lypso greatly assisted by the support of the GRAMACKS, MIDNIGHT GROOVERS, and other Dominican groups of the early seventies succeeded in performing and distributing a music within which most of the world’s black population could identify with, as close as the sister Caribbean islands including Haiti but as far Africa, the Cape Verde islands, the Indian Ocean islands, Europe, South America and beyond.

Cadence-lypso has been the model from which ZOUK and SOCA have been inspired not only from a musical standpoint but also in the way that the music is packaged and marketed.

While cadence-lypso continues to strive world-wide with the tremendous impact of the EXILE ONE 1996/1997 world tour, it is virtually important to consider cadence-lypso not only as an art form but as a part of the very lucrative global entertainment industry which could play a decisive role in Dominica’s economy. Listen to the music! in stereo: [157kb 15.6 sec]

Rough & Ready Dominica's young popular show band the "Ruff and Reddy has just released yet another CD, "Ruff & Reddy". There are 12 songs on the CD

Songs on this new CD are : Carnival Carnival, Ruff & Reddy, Paka FÉ SA, Coconut, Make a Noise, Chook & Jook, Leave People Man Alone, Limé Difé, Blow Your Bottle, Ring DE Ting and Lost In Wmotion

Next for the Rough and Ready band is their preparation for a 1997 tour which will include the Caribbean, United States and Europe.

Ruff & Reddy first CD did well in the Eastern Caribbean.
The guys music is great [ Check this clip out ] 16.8 sec 168KB realaudio in stereo!

LEVITATION!!!


What have LEVI "SUPER L" LOBLACK, BRUCE SKERRITT and PAULA LETANG been up to?
These three individuals have created a new band by the name of LEVITATION. Since their debut C.D. entitled NOUS KA WOULE, was released in June, 1996, LEVITATION has enticed it's listeners with top quality songs. The new music they are producing is called MAZOUK. It is a combination of Jing Ping, Belle, Quadrille, Heel & Toe Polka & Compas. LEVITATION's main objective was to take French/Creole music to it's next level. Considering the great response the group has had with this latest release it is obvious that they have accomplished this goal.


Levi "Super L" Loblack hails from the island of Dominica where he perfected his talent. He is an active musician, producer and songwriter. In 1988 he received the Best Male singer award at the Fame Awards Ceremony. He has also peformed in the Dominican production of Jesus Christ Superstar as Judas Iscariot and co-wrote and performed with the Dominican Swinging Stars. Levi is also known for his dynamic calypso performances. He has worked and performed on shows with The Mighty Arrow, Third World, Steele Pulse, Kassav, Ophelia, Tanbou Combo, Gasoline, Burning Flames, Byron Lee and The Dragoneers, and Gordon Henderson.

Bruce Skerritt hails from the island of St. Kitts. He is a world renown jazz keyboardist who was the first receipient of the St. Kitts Government's Award for Oustanding contribution to the arts. He has been the Musical director for the musical production Rainbow World created by Salome Bey, one of Canada's greatest jazz vocalists. He has also performed with The Mighty Arrow, Shadow, Chaldust, Caribbean Heat Waves and The Mighty Duke.

Paual Letang hails from the island of Dominica and has received the Miss Congeniailty award in the Miss Niagara Pagent. She brings to LEVITATION her influences of hip hop, R&B & dance hall styles. Musically she has peformed with many North American groups. She is a professional model and positive performer.

Back from an extensive and successful tour of North America, LEVITATION is now on it's way to the Caribbean to shall we say, spread some of that good sound! Already topping the charts with their dance song entitled MILLO, LEVITATION has music that is sure to satisfy all listeners. With these three creative minds at work LEVITATION can only succeed.

LEVITATION - Mazouk Music Productions! Before you leave listen! [ to this clip ] 21.6 sec 216100bytes of realaudio in stereo:


This page © CaKaFete 1996

Created: Sunday, September 29, 1996, 8:24:18 PM