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Funky Nassau

Funky Nassau: Roots, Routes, and Representation in Bahamian Popular Music

Timothy Rommen
Copyright Date: 2011
Edition: 1
Pages: 332
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  • Book Info
    Funky Nassau
    Book Description:

    This book examines the role music has played in the formation of the political and national identity of the Bahamas. Timothy Rommen analyzes Bahamian musical life as it has been influenced and shaped by the islands' location between the United States and the rest of the Caribbean; tourism; and Bahamian colonial and postcolonial history. Focusing on popular music in the second half of the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, in particular rake-n-scrape and Junkanoo, Rommen finds a Bahamian music that has remained culturally rooted in the local even as it has undergone major transformations. Highlighting the ways entertainers have represented themselves to Bahamians and to tourists,Funky Nassauillustrates the shifting terrain that musicians navigated during the rapid growth of tourism and in the aftermath of independence.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-94875-4
    Subjects: Music

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. ix-x)
    (pp. xi-xiv)
    (pp. xv-xvi)
  6. Map of the Bahamas
    (pp. xvii-xviii)
  7. 1 Nassau’s Gone Funky: Sounding Some Themes in Bahamian Music
    (pp. 1-31)

    The epigraphs opening this chapter combine to paint a picture of several pressures facing the Bahamas—pressures that continue to shape dilemmas and challenges for which solutions have not been readily forthcoming. The first of these epigraphs succinctly illustrates the interposition of the Bahamas between the United States and the rest of the Caribbean, a space in-between that serves to highlight and intensify questions of cultural identity, raising the specter of the nation—and of nationalism in particular—in the process. Nicolette Bethel, a former director of culture for the Bahamas, transposes these questions of cultural identity neatly onto the...

  8. 2 “Muddy da Water”: Provincializing the Center, or Recentering the Periphery through Rake-n-Scrape
    (pp. 32-78)

    It’s about 9:30 in the morning on Saturday, August 11, 2007, and I am sitting at a picnic table in Ed Moxey’s backyard. Ed, a former minister of parliament (Coconut Grove), an accomplished organist, and a rake-n-scrape performer, was born in 1933 on Ragged Island but has lived in Nassau for much of his adult life. He settles right into relaying some of his memories about the musical dimensions of his childhood: “When I was a boy, going to the well for water, we used to have a habit of beating the bucket. And my great-grandmother—if she was living...

  9. 3 “Calypso Island”: Exporting the Local, Particularizing the Region, and Developing the Sounds of Goombay
    (pp. 79-114)

    In 1961, an LP titledBahamas Treasure Chest(Carib LP-2016) was released for the tourist market in the Bahamas. It is an example of the “existing visual and sensuous performances” to which Mimi Sheller points in the first epigraph above. The album’s cover offers all of the images of drinks with umbrellas and tropical paradise to which Derek Walcott alludes in the second epigraph—leisurely consumption, luxury, and play at the edge of that fantastic “blue pool.” In short, the cover participates in selling the images that tourists would have been inclined to desire or expect from a visit to...

  10. 4 “Gone ta Bay”: Institutionalizing Junkanoo, Festivalizing the Nation
    (pp. 115-167)

    I’m on Bay Street with a camera in one hand, a video camera in the other, trying not to get in the way of anyone from Government High School’s Junkanoo group as they rush around me. It’s about 10:00 pm on December 16, 2004, and the occasion is the annual Junior Junkanoo competition. I’m rushing with the group because Yonell Justilien, one of the main organizers of the group, invited me to join them this evening. I visited the gymnasium over at Government High School just a few days ago, and at that time the lead pieces were not anywhere...

  11. 5 “A New Day Dawning”: Cosmopolitanism, Roots, and Identity in the Postcolony
    (pp. 168-215)

    The postcolony was born on July 10, 1973, and the newly independent Bahamian nation celebrated with Junkanoo, a new national anthem, and monuments to music and culture such as the albumA Nation Is Born: A Musical History of the Bahamas. Released in 1973, the album’s cover depicts the national crest of the Bahamas breaking out of an egg against a white background, stylized sunbeams of gold, aquamarine, and black spreading out toward the edges of the record jacket; spreading the birth announcement along with the national motto—“Forward, upward, onward, together”—to any who would see the light.¹ And...

  12. 6 “Back to the Island”: Travels in Paradox—Creating the Future-Past
    (pp. 216-264)

    It’s past midnight on January 10, 2010, and Fred Ferguson and I are sitting in his home studio. We’ve spent the best part of the night rummaging through boxes full of old cassette tapes and listening to several of his old projects with High Voltage, the band he joined in 1982 and which eventually came to be known as the Baha Men. Fred hasn’t listened to this material in years, and this occasions a conversation about his early career and his own background as a musician.¹ Along the way, he tells me a bit about the itineraries that marked his...

  13. Epilogue
    (pp. 265-268)

    It’s about 7 pm on July 10, 2009. I’ve just walked into Da Tambrin Tree Club in the Summer Winds Plaza off Harrold Road. It’s a nice space, complete with a restaurant and bar, an outside patio, a dance floor, and a raised stage for bands. I order some grouper fingers and fries, along with a Kalik, and settle down at the bar to talk with Fred Ferguson and Ronald Simms, the proprietors of the club. On the way over here, I noticed that the club is a bit out of the way, especially if you count Nassau’s Bay Street...

  14. NOTES
    (pp. 269-290)
    (pp. 291-304)
  16. INDEX
    (pp. 305-310)
  17. Back Matter
    (pp. 311-311)