Putting Cadencelypso Day in perspective
Cadencelypso, Dominica's most renowned and internationally accepted genre is being celebrated on the 25th of August. During that period all Dominicans should reminisce on the musical gains of the early 70s to the mid-nineties when the music blossomed then faded making way for the birth of Bouyon music with its electronically driven drum machine, sequencers and accordion.
Bouyon was the youth's response to a generation of musicians which they could not identify with as they never really saw them on the streets of Roseau, on stage nor were they able to rub shoulders with them in the dance halls. In fact dancehalls even became a thing of the past as the Aquacades, Warehouse discos, Grotto and Dominica Club became obsolete as block-o-ramas and street jams served as replacement.
In quick time, Dominicans literally turned their backs on the Cadence beat and very few embraced or caressed on the dance floor as belly-to-belly embrace transformed to front-to- posterior while everyone kicked up and jumped up "like a raging ass."
Of course no one can blame the post-hurricane David youth as they never saw or could identify with a Gordon Henderson or Jeff Joseph who at the pinnacle of their game all resided, earned their living and executed their craft in French territories; hence the disconnect.
The role models became Daddy Friday of Jam Band, The Edward brothers of Burning Flames fame, Imaginations Brass and of course 17-plus all from the Leeward Islands and USVI.
The drum machine fascinated the youth and good drummers were put out of commission as WCK embraced it and the "Culture Shock" began. The music became fast like the music in the Leeward Islands as opposed to the slower more deliberate groove of Cadence.
The lyrics were converted to chants; because more party orientated, a departure from the sound messages of Coco Sec, Twaville Pou a yen, like Ophelia's Aie Dominique or Grammax' Couchment. Even the romantic tales of Rosita or Anita presented effective story lines way beyond "One two three under the mango tree" or Jeff Joe's " La vie Disco" which never found itself in the " soucie"
A new era had begun and Cadence began to struggle as the new Creole Zuke and Haitian Compa in all its forms stifled the Dominican sound. Only Ophelia and Chubby and much later on Michele, stood up in defense by producing music from time to time within the country. Still it must be said Gordon and Jeff persistently insisted even as Fitzroy Williams continue to proclaim Cadence is not dead, supported by their sold out performances in the Francophone world and Africa.
They may be right as they have built their homes and continue to create through shows and royalties, a decent living for themselves and families through this genre. Now, new Cadence queen and princess of Michele, just as Ophelia has done (and Mark Marie would insist continue to do), is making waves using Cadence as her foundation.
Still one thing remains true that Cadence has for the most part become nostalgic, a beat that people relate to the past hits and not the current. Apart from Michele or the "Musique a nou" promotional experiments in the earlier days of the WCMF one cannot really boast of anything close to a Mi debar or Rosita. While this can be an argument advanced for most other genres as Kassav's 'Zuke La' days it is even more disturbing that our present day top bands have not seen merit in producing a Cadence album.
The proliferation of a number of home studios made it much cheaper and accessible to today's musicians compare to when they had to travel to Guadeloupe and Debs studios to get their music out there. Added to this, digitalized technology and the multiple use of the keyboards or horns and sequencing made recording more cost effective. Bouyon then was born at the right time.
As a result today though Cadence has laid the foundation for the WCMF, it can only piggy backs on Chubby, Ophelia and Michele perennially at the Festival to keep its flag flying- no one else.
Speaking of flags flying, Wadix is pretty much the only DJ on island who makes it a duty not to let Dominicans and by extension the world, forgets the beauty and the esthetics appeal of this great genre. One would have to ask who are the DJ's on island. Basically they know very little of Cadence or don't intend to find out having not been influenced by the music.
They were born in the Bouyon, Dance Hall and now TNT new Soca crazed era, and will most likely play what they and their peers know. This is sad as DJ's have a very important role far beyond just playing music. They are also called upon to research and preserve genres especially in the absence of the Ted Daley's of the past.
How many of these DJ's are aware for instance, that another DJ called Dennis Joseph led a band in the 70's which was more prominent than Bob Marley. In fact Bob in those days preceded the Gaylords (leading show band in the region in those times) who were the main feature on a couple of occasions in England. There is also compelling reasons to believe that the concept of Gaylord's and Fitzroy Williams "Hit me with music" was somehow utilized by the great Marley to record another hit a year after, by the same name.
Bouyon has its own day as well and this must be applauded as this our new ' Cadence' is an interpretation manufactured by Golden Drum recipient Derick Rah Peters and Cornel Phillip, both whom, I think, should be recognized together for their pioneering works. Now the focus is on Cadence as we salute the genre on Cadence Day.
However, I am thinking that while it is complimentary that NCCU is trying to revive the music and keep it in our memory banks' it is being threatened to be relegated to Bele or Quadrille; another staged event. Not one that Dominican youth seem ready to embrace once more.