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The Caribs Story (PDF)

The Caribs Story (PDF)

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Published by: api-3754142 on Oct 15, 2008
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03/18/2014

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THE CARIBSBackground
I was playing some pre-Ska Jamaican music on my radio show when I received aphone-call from man with a crackly-voice.He said he’d heard me playing ‘Lollipop Girl’ (by the Jiving Juniors),
“I played drums on that for Mr. Dodd”, he stated simply. We were on a lot of those old Jamaican tunes.” 
It was Lowell Morris. I had been looking for Lowell and anyone else linked to The Caribssince I was first tipped to the story two years earlier by a ska collector in New York.The irony was that, the whole time I had been hunting Lowell, he had been living only 5minutes from away in a neighbouring suburb. I rushed around to his house after theshow to do the interview.The Caribs Story rolled out before me that afternoon was even more incredible than Ihad hoped …
The Caribs in Australia
The year is 1958. Lowell Morris (Albert Park, Victoria - drums), Peter Stoddart(Adelaide, South Australia - piano), Dennis Sindrey (Camberwell, Victoria - guitar), MaxWildman (Hamilton, Victoria - saxophone) and an Haitian voodoo drum priest Albert LaGuerre (percussion) were the house band at the Paradise Hotel in Surfers Paradise,Queensland. They were called ‘The Caribs’ despite none other than La Gueree everhaving been to the Caribbean. A cabaret band, their stock-in-trade was Latin-Jazzmusic.That same year, the band’s leader, Max Wildman, travelled to Haiti to help with theadministration of a new restaurant there. He had previously owned a curry house inBurke Road, Camberwell. In Haiti, Wildman met a female representative of the JamaicaTourist Board, who nominated him for a position as manager of the new Glass Bucketnightclub in Kingston. He agreed to take on the role, on condition that he could bringThe Caribs with him to be the venue’s house-band.The Caribs accepted the invitation and travelled to the Jamaica, one-way tickets in hand- all except their La Guerre, who feared returning to the Caribbean having fled Haitiduring the Duvalier government’s vicious crack-down on voodoo practices.
The Glass Bucket and the Myrtle Bank
The Caribs arrived at the Glass Bucket in December 1958 and duly became the residentband. Lowell had some wonderful photos of them performing at the club. I looked atthem and immediately recognised their stand-up bass player, Lloyd Brevett! He went onto play bass in the greatest ska band of all time, the Skatalites. It turns out, Brevett’s firstfirst professional engagement was with the Caribs!Around August 1959, the Caribs left the Glass Bucket to take up residency at the MyrtleBank Hotel on Hope Road, Kingston. A Caribs performance centred around a floor-
 
show featuring established and emerging local singing and dancing talent. There wereanywhere up to half-a-dozen guests every night, many of whom would go on to gainfame in the music industry. The Carib’s still played Latin-Jazz, but, had now added,Calypso, Mento and Rhythm and Blues.The expatriate Australians fell head-long into a thriving local music scene and becamefast-friends with many of its movers and shakers including Chris Blackwell (IslandRecords), Ken Khouri (Federal), Stanley Motta (Motta Recording Service) and CoxsoneDodd (Studio One).
Studio Days
In 1959, The Caribs (without Wildman) were engaged as studio band for Khouri’sFederal recording studios under a 6 month contract. The deal was brokered by CoxsoneDodd, then a young sound system operator looking to start his own record productionbusiness. Dodd had a vested interest in the Federal operation because he was rentingthe studio and its band for his own recording sessions. As a consequence, The Caribsare featured on the some of the earliest Studio One material. Incredibly, the engineer onthese recordings was another Melburnian, Graeme Goodall (Caulfied, Victoria) who hadcome to the island to build the island’s radio infrastructure and decided to hang aroundworking for a local radio station. Goodall became central to Dodd’s operation and wenton to engineer virtually all Studio One (and every other company’s) recordings until hisdeparture for England in 1965.Despite having signed an exclusivity clause with Khoury, both during the currency of thatagreement and after its expiry, The Caribs worked for other producers including ChrisBlackwell, Prince Buster and Duke Reid (though he doesn’t remember Reid or Busterwell, he recognises the songs and players). These sessions took place at the island’stwo radio stations, JBC and RJR.Amongst the records Lowell says he and the Caribs played on between 1959-1962 are:1. ‘Little Sheila’ by Laurel Aitken (R&B)2. ‘Please Let Me Go’ by Owen Gray (Starlite)3. ‘Worried Over You’ by Keith and Enid (Hi-Lite)4. ‘Lollipop Girl’ by The Jiving Juniors (Coxsone)5. ‘Hully Gully Rock’ by Roland Alphonso (Sensational)6. ‘Tell Me Darling’ by Wilfred “Jackie” Edwards (R&B)7. ‘Along The Waterfront’ LP by Don Drummond and Roland Alphonso (Port’o’Jam).Lowell had copies of many of the records in which they were involved. He noted thatmany were not originally released to the public but were for use as sound system‘’exclusives” at outdoor dances. He has since misplaced the singles but has copies oncassette. I have only heard a few of the tunes before. Each one is remarkable, brilliant.They are quintessential pre-Ska Jamaican Shuffle. My favourite is a Shuffle version of‘Waltzing Mathilda’ which Lowell insists was Chris Blackwell’s first commercial release,on one of his pre-Island ventures.

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Jeff Renza added this note
I'm trying to locate Peter Stoddard. My name is Jeff Renza, I played drums with him back in the 80's on Emerald Seas, if there is anyway to contact him, please get back to me. jeff@jeffrenza.com
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