With the work completed in reconstructing the control tower destroyed in last fall’s Tropical Storm Nicole, the Dread Sound System # 2 is now almost jump up ready. Busy week. We caught Goat Boy Willie trying to steal some scrap lumber on our dibby dibby Raymoan Ameche’s watch Monday night late. Ameche and Willie have long feuded over ownership of specific goats, so Raymoan took great pleasure in busting Goat Boy, who immediately toadied, bowed, scraped, apologized profusely, then grabbed one of Raymoan’s spotted kids and ran away, the goat bleating and Goat Boy laughing like the mad man I’ve long suspected him to be. Raymoan has sworn vengeance.
Tuesday morning Natty Bumpo oversaw the burying of the audio snake in the sand stretching 30 meters from the stacks to the control tower. We’ve never buried it before but since we’re planning on leaving the new system up all the time now, Natty thought it for the best since it was always getting stepped on in the past or dancers were always tripping over it. I spent Tuesday in my little beach studio preparing some new tracks blending classics with the more obscure, but all disks very danceable. Wake the town and tell the people. Ras Eddie Ille rode his Honda 90 in from Dub City around sundown with a nice batch of fresh dubplates and more than a few scorchers. I never ask where he gets them. Good jams. We set up half the night with Ophelia and Little Annie previewing them. We’ll mix some of them in and nicee up the dance this Friday Night.
Mama Celeste’s auntie, Miss Claudelia, has been kind enough to supervise the sewing and construction of our wonderful new canvas covers for the speaker stacks and that’s a lot of canvas. She, herself, is not sewing since she’s quite elderly and rather arthritic, but she’s overseeing the work done by her god daughter, T Claudette, and several of T’s friends who live in Heartbeat. Miss Claudelia’s late husband Arthur was a sail maker. She certainly knows the craft and has been a severe taskmaster to the girls, who love her dearly. Not having to completely strike the stacks each week will certainly be a blessing to everbody’s backs, not that anyone ever complains (except sallow rat-like Raymoan and sometimes Leroy) plus there’s always plenty of friends who, though they’ve already danced for hours, volunteer to stay on to help out. Wednesday morning Peachy and Smiley brought Miss Claudelia down to the beach to watch the covers be fitted a final time. Old Blind Pew brought her out a punch and flirted with her. She giggled like a young girl. The corner of one canvas which goes over the port side of the bass bins failed to drape properly and she saw to it that the girls corrected it immediately. She loves her JA music, a dear lady who hopes to be with us Friday night. Before she married her late husband, they say she used to see Duke Reid on the sly. Don’t know. I wasn’t there. But the massive and crew can’t thank her and the girls enough. The stacks should be able to stand out in almost any weather now snugly covered in red, green and gold waterproof canvas when we strike after each jump up. And the newly roofed control tower with louvered drop shutters…well, all things be irie with System Number 2.
Thursday was loud! Much louder than we ever turn it up at the jump ups. Were we to use those high settings, regular folks’ ears would bleed, but it doesn’t faze the crew. Eddie just grins and shouts platitudes to Jah. “Got fe run bus up 100 clicks fe him fe purr at 10” Natty says. He demands everything be just right. Natty and Ras Eddie put the system through its’ paces at full wattage. Studio One riddim’s boomed out to sea all day and into the dusk. Many fisherman hailed us from their boats while only a few complained the loud music was disturbing the fish. Twice ships tooted a salute from far off shore. People from all up and down the south side of the island wandered over to check it all out. Many danced about happily. Friday nights have been quiet since last year’s big blow down. I think they’ve missed us. Everywhere were smiles. A pair of John Crow vultures circled slowly above drawn by all the activity. They reminded me of Mad John and Dr. Tuskaloosa. Dogs barked and ran about. Children squealed. Young dons and their dancehall divas raced up and down the beach on motorbikes. Laughing gulls expressed their dismay by diving time and again toward the horns. A somber old pelican stood stoically atop the control tower roof, shifting from side to side with the beat and nodding his approval as Raymoan trotted back and forth adjusting the crossovers’ settings and changing the positions of the horns at Natty’s direction. By suppertime Natty was satisfied with his sound and went home to rest. In the middle of the afternoon Snus came by to tell me Mad John was sorry for all his past indiscretions and wanted to come back again. We banished him from the beach last summer when we found him trying to sell bogus treasure maps and used Christmas cards to the tourists. I joked with Snus and said I’d think about it. Went to bed early.
This morning dawned beautifully beginning with a pink glow over toward Haiti then gave way to a glorious golden sunrise. I sat on my little veranda at Number 9 Tigertail sipping Blue Mountain and watching the long line of women and girls parading up the Shore Road toward their destination, Heartbeat’s market day. Each carried a basket or bundle balanced perfectly atop their head. Many of them will be here tonight after dark for all the fun. Raymoan and his brother-in-law Maxie swept the beach as the tide receded. Later they’d gather wood for tonight’s bonfire and prepare torches by attaching hunks of old tire to stubby bamboo poles. Peachy and Smiley unloaded sacks of long grain rice behind Mama Celeste’s. Big Hubert was already beginning to cook. The smell of jerk goat smoking above his firepit filled the morning air with promises. Bongo Mon carried blocks of ice down the lane to Pew’s where the elderly blind man prepared his famous punch in a huge stewer. Lazy day for me. I’ll probably take a nap later, then ice down some cold ones. It’s a busy day for everyone who works on our beach. Everyone except your reggae crew. We’ll get busy about ten tonight. Soon come.