Guyana: ALONG THE WAY – by Dave Martins + Music video

Credits Sunday Stabroek News. June 14, 2020

My wife, Annette, who most people know from her dedication to environmental matters and Guyanese culture over the years, will occasionally rope me into some project she has going, and one of current ones involves her brain wave to do a video where she shows me a photograph from my life and gets me talking about it.

The photos are from a collection of various Martins family activities going back to our time growing up at Hague and Vreed-en-Hoop, and later Atkinson Field, where I had my first job at B. G. Airways; assembled over the years by my niece Allison who had migrated to Toronto and had carefully collected pictures from hither and thither.       

Familiar with the collection, Annette is now embarked on this current project, which is a labour of love for her, and my involvement with the reminiscences, while it can be tedious at times, has left me with an awareness of the important roles played by so many different people along the way in my wanderings here, as a youth, later in Canada as an immigrant, in the Cayman Islands where I went to live in the 1980s, and now, in the past 10 years, back in Guyana.

One of the first pictures confronting me was one taken when I must have been about 10 or so, a head shot of me somewhere in my aunts’ backyard of their Hague house, where all the Martins children were born and spent our early years. I grew up in a kind of cocoon in that family circle, with my four aunts playing a pivotal part in the kind of people we became, but that first photo Annette showed me actually reminded me that, as the only boy in the family, and no neighbours with male children my age, my memory of that early time was a kind of loneliness where I tried, unsuccessfully, to entice my sisters into this game or that, and ended up having to invent my own distractions, often of the me-one variety. Seeing the photo again, after so many years, took me back to the Hague days as being a time with a lot of solitude.

By contrast, when we moved to Vreed-en-Hoop to facilitate daily Georgetown trips for schooling, I was almost immediately exposed, in that bigger setting, to boys my own age – a new experience for me – and in particular for the presence there of the two Henry brothers, Jack and Joe, both accomplished guitarists, leading to us forming a band with them including two other Hoop residents, Billy Stephenson and Doolie Chung.

I had no notion in my mind of anything other than a diversion, but I look back now and see it the first step for me that would become a career path, taking me places I had never dreamed of. Along the way, that was my first step. Joe Henry and I became close friends, I was no longer the lonely Hague boy, as we joined together playing music for the fun of it, in evening sessions in various homes in the village.

From the beginning, I had nothing but complete support from my parents and my four sisters, Theresa, Imelda, Cecilia and Marie, and even my four aunts at Hague, although they looked somewhat bemused by it, did nothing to dissuade me; they heard about my interest and smiled benignly. Early in the game, as I was graduating from St. Stanislaus College in Georgetown, on one of their scholarships, another spur came when my eldest sister Theresa, married to the Airport Fire Chief at Atkinson Field, bought me a hand-made guitar as a graduation present. It spurred me to put in the long hours practicing by myself in the gallery at Vreed-en-Hoop and never once hearing a complaint from the family about my incessant plunking. Along the way, they were totally supportive. Stage one.

Stage two came when I migrated to Canada (my mother’s brother Joseph Barcellos had moved there) and quickly hooked myself up with a guitar teacher at the United Music Center to take up music professionally. The patience and support of that first teacher (his name eludes me) was pivotal in both my guitar and vocal work, and it wasn’t long before I had formed a group The Latins, playing a variety of music, and began getting bookings in Toronto bars with a Caribbean clientele, like the Bermuda Tavern on Yonge Street where we became a regular, playing Monday through Saturday, often for weeks at a time. Along the way, I look back at those daily Bermuda gigs, and the later ones when we moved to a nightclub called We Place, as where I gradually improved as a musician, learning to handle crowds, the occasional inebriated customer, and all the bits and pieces of playing music for a living. In short order, I was able to buy We Place, giving us the security new bands often lack.

Stage three came when I started creating original music for our Caribbean following, recorded four songs, including Honeymooning Couple, and then in 1967 took the band, with no advance bookings, to Trinidad Carnival. One of the Tradewinds then was guitarist Glen Sorzano, from Port of- Spain, who introduced us to Radio Trinidad’s boss Sam Ghany; Sam put our music in rotation and in a matter of two months Honeymooning Couple had become a hit across the region; Tradewinds were rolling; stage three. Along the way, we had a lot of help. The early years in Toronto bars, then our own place, and then with Caribbean popularity. Thank you, Sam Ghany.

I’ve started writing a book about all this, but another piece, with a hit recording on our resume, was the push we would get in the next decade from individual promoters including Vic Fernandes, the Bajan radio star, the late Cyril Shaw in Georgetown, Guyana; plus Stilly Fraser in St. Vincent, Peter Michael in Antigua, Ellis Chow Lin On and Cosmos Hosam in Trinidad, and Robert Dubourcq in St. Maarten, and especially, in the later years, the push from the late Freddie Abdool as our man in Guyana. On a more personal level, I include the individual almost daily endorsement for the group that came, across the board from the range of fans we were able to secure, not only from West Indians at home, but from the ones who, like us, had migrated to North America in search of the better life. I have met them all over the Caribbean, including the Cayman Islands, and the lesser known Bequia, and of course the hometown Guyana venues such as Suddie, Corriverton and Linden. In those places, among those faces, we have enjoyed a devoted following along the way

Favorites Songs from Dave Martin & The Tradewinds – music video

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Comments

  • kamtanblog  On June 27, 2020 at 3:30 am

    Hurry up with the video creative “old
    fart” with youthful heart !

    Social media will “knight you”

    Sir David Martins

    Kamtan UK world traveller

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