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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: Caribbean banjo styles and recordings?

Please note this is an archived topic, so it is locked and unable to be replied to. You may, however, start a new topic and refer to this topic with a link:

Wheatbread - Posted - 12/28/2018:  23:40:26

What other Caribbean music features banjo?

I tracked down some classic Jamaican Mento recordings, and posted a playlist on Spotify under Jamaican Banjo.

I read the Haitian Twoubadou originally included banjo. However, I cant seem to find any, only more modern recordings.

any leads?

Best, Wheatbread

bobscene - Posted - 12/29/2018:  02:44:16

St Lucia has a creole banjo tradition mainly in the South.

They use tenor banjos alongside a fiddle.

Andrew Roblin - Posted - 12/29/2018:  05:14:58

If you haven't already, check out the Jolly Boys recordings from about 1988 to 1994. Traditional Jamaican mento with Moses Deans on banjo.

Veerstryngh Thynner - Posted - 12/29/2018:  07:02:56

Interesting. A whole new world opening up.

Thanks very much, Wheatbread! :-)

Veerstryngh Thynner

Bob Smakula - Posted - 12/29/2018:  08:32:47

I like Fungi music from the British Virgin Islands. Most of what I have heard had banjo uke as a rhythm instrument. Lashing Dogs is one band who's recording somehow landed in my shop. The banjo uke player and vocalist is Aubrey Forbes. Last I heard (10? years ago) he had left the lashing dogs. His solo CD also somehow landed in my shop and is on some cruise line's record label.

The music has a strong dance rhythm. The lyrics run from complaining about youth needing better direction, wrongs of the world done to the common man, and a healthy dose of christian influence. Worth a listen if you can track some down.

Bob Smakula

BrooksMT - Posted - 12/29/2018:  10:31:12

Googling "Fungi music from the British Virgin Islands" got several hits, including one for Lashing Dogs:

Lesson on BVI Folk Music:

Sounds like 4 string banjo in both, at least the parts I listened to. Fun and upbeat, matching my experience in my one visit to BVI :-)

BobTheGambler - Posted - 12/29/2018:  12:28:55

Lots of good tenor playing on mento records! I like the banjo lead stuff like Lord Power's "Mambo La La" and Chin's Calypso Sextet. There's some jazzier playing from Alphonso "Blind Blake" Higgs on his various recordings from the Bahamas.

Tenor banjo also eventually took on the role originally held by cuatro on calypso records from Trinidad, playing rhythm figures behind the horns and lead strings. Check out Wilmoth Houdini's "Uncle Jo' Gimme Mo' " for a good example.

Wheatbread - Posted - 12/29/2018:  16:26:12

Wow, thanks everyone! BTW, I also started the HAITIAN BANJO playlist on Spotify in addition to the JAMAICAN BANJO playlist. Keep checking back. I'll add more tunes as I find them!

Wheatbread - Posted - 12/29/2018:  17:19:34 Haitian Banjo

Wheatbread - Posted - 12/29/2018:  17:20:48  Jamaican Banjo

hokelore - Posted - 01/04/2019:  06:31:51

On a trip to St. Martin in the early '90s, we saw a local band that included a banjo. It looked home-made: it was a 5-string, small body, 5-7 frets. I couldn't hear the guy very well, but it sounded like he was strumming chords. The rest of the band was button accordion, guitar, a conga-like drum, and I think a bass kalimba. They played stuff like When the Saints Go Marching In and Before the Next Teardrop Falls, plus a version of St. Anne's Reel.

monstertone - Posted - 01/11/2019:  14:16:42

You never know what you might hear in the Carribean islands. The instrumentation is gonna be whatever is available & what they can make. The primary reason for any of us mainlanders going there is to escape the rat race. The people & their music are instantly infectious. Chances of finding a quality banjo down there? Nada. But they are so laid back, you can;t help but enjoy yourself. 

Veerstryngh Thynner - Posted - 01/12/2019:  15:36:50


Thank you so much for bringing this subject up.

I'm a tenor banjo player who has been trying to find ways to diversify, musically, for several years. The thread you opened an inspiration, in this respect.

Veerstryngh Thynner

Edited by - Veerstryngh Thynner on 01/12/2019 15:38:09

hobogal - Posted - 01/27/2019:  04:15:03

This is mostly Haitian music.  The Etcetera  I got a cd copy from Kevin Sanders.

Tbanjo's youtube channel has more tenor banjo music in this style - his name on BH is sixwatergrog.  He used to have a great banjo blog but I think he has taken it down - shame.

Leyla McCalla:

Creole track from Seva Venet



Edited by - hobogal on 01/27/2019 04:16:59

hobogal - Posted - 02/25/2019:  03:05:28

I've just found 'sixwatergrog' blog under a different

It's a sunny day in February in England (!) so had a go on a calypso-style tune: 


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