Sunday, February 25, 2018

Romey is listening


RELAXING: Austin Lyons a.k.a Blue Boy relaxing with a drink in 1981 the year following his phenomenal breakthrough on to the soca arena.

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Gosh Keith, so your old friend Super won the Road March as well as Soca Monarch... Congratulations, because you always believed in him.

Carnival Tuesday on the Avenue, phenomenal, lovely atmosphere, listening to music truck after truck, strike up "Fantastic Friday" as they prepared to cross the judging point.

It was a day for memories of being in Minshall, feeling that first glorious splash of cool paint hitting you on the Savannah stage. And as if to prove the point along came "Romey" (Romeo Abraham) to bring it all back. Romey (some may remember him as Romey's Record Shop) was the man who told us (you and me Keith) to come to hear Blueboy as he was then called, make his tent debut...1980 it was.

Between the drinks, ice and chasers on the Avenue, you would have almost shed a tear at Romey's happiness at the success of the man they now call Super. Remember, Keith, how back in the day he used to be a fixture by Kitty's desk with all kinds of entertainment information and stories.

But on Carnival Tuesday, Romey really could not contain his delight as he regaled myself and and some Harvard regulars with some stories of those early days when he was Blue Boy's manager. Btw Harvardians could really lime, there they were, reclining on collapsible chairs on the Avenue, coolers at their feet, taking drinks, surrounded by crowds and all kinda mas but perfectly at ease, for all the world as if they were inside the club house, style guys, way to go, but I digress.

Getting back to Romey, he is a true story teller.

This is how it was back when he used to run Romey's Record Shop on Prince Street

November/December 1979, Blue Boy came to his record shop with a cassette.

On the cassette was "Soca Baptist" in a very basic form.

Picture if you can Romey behind the counter listening to the cassette Blue Boy just standing waiting...the opening bars...

listenin' to a prayer meeting/baptist people /preaching/with ah leader in front/have people singing/So I tell my padna, boy leh we get closer/Because I tellmeh-self ah hearing soca/While it was something to be spiritual/To me it was more like bacchannal/For they dancing, some jumping out ah time/If you see baptist woman wine, singing/

[chorus]Oh Oh Oh OhOh/Like soca baptist (x3)Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh/Like socabaptist (x2)/Oh Oh Oh

"I liked the Baptist beat, straightoff, it ketch me," he says reflectively.

He likes it because of the drums. "I'm a country boy y'know...grow up in Princes Town, and I was always between the Hindu and the Muslim, and that Baptist beat when I hear it, it ketch me."

Romey is telling us this story and a big mas is coming up the Avenue, we break for ice, chasers and a listen to the big truck passing which is blasting "Fantastic Friday" and rags and hands are in the air and people are jumping in a frenzy... like Soca Baptist

Romey takes up the tale of Blue Boy's debut.

He took the cassette to Pelham Goddard to arrange and do a proper recording of the song. By that time it was January 1980 and of course Blueboy needed to be heard in the tent, Romey was sure it could make Road March.

"I call Sparrow, he was out of the country and the people in the Hideaway tell me they were full, I call Kitchener and they tell me...full. I call Ellis Chow Lin On, in those days he and Earl Patterson was managing a tent opposite the jail, and well you know Chow and I used to do good, and he used to manage Charlie's Roots and Pelham was in Roots, so he tell me bring him, and they will see if they could put him on...they would see, imagine that...well when they put him on, and he start to ring that bell, was madness in the tent...imagine they was paying him $150 and night and I say ok, and I put my hand in meh pocket and pay another $150 and that is how he get $350 a night...but people wouldn't know those stories...look you see I telling you (he points to his arms) it raise meh pores."

The rest is history of became Road March and Blue Boy the star was born.

Romey was Blue Boy's manager for another year. In 1981, they did the recording of "Ethel" and an LP "Soca in the Shaolin Temple". Regrettably, Romey says, very few of these albums have survived...the record shop is no more...and Romey's early pioneering role has blurred with time...and others have seemed to receive the credit but Super, Romey is proud of you, and he wants you to know this.