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Jason Griffith: Voyage of the Sailor Mas'

The King Sailor
The King Sailor

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The Sailor dance

Staff Article
Interview Recorded: April 10, 2005
Posted: April 15, 2005

Steelband clashes didn't affect me because most of the time when they had those clashes early in the fifties, I was freelancing. A lot of people feel I was only into the sailor mas' because I talk about the sailor mas'. However, Horace Lovelace, who was my good friend (we grew up together too), went to England with the football team somewhere around 1953/54. He came back and he told me he saw a show by the name of Chu Chin Chow and he wanted to do the band. Now this was a fellow who was with my band from the start. He came out with the Bird Nose. He was an artist and designer who did a lot of work for Saldenah and others.

So I said, "Well boy, I will have to help out Horace." But I had the Big Six in those days and it was Horace who caused me to stop with the Big Six. So I helped him and I was still making mas' for Invaders, Syncopaters and other people. Not the steelbands, although they brought out the band. I brought out the headpieces.

The main band that Jim Harding and myself worked for was 'Sunland' which was a band from Belmont. I was living as a bachelor in one room and if you came you did not see me, then you had to call me. The wire skills you talked about, I always said that these hands were not made for that. Down to the frames we made, our frame was a standard frame and I made them, and when the fellows in the band start to make them, I left that. After the band got big, I had to turn to all these skills, but I had people doing them. Like you have individuals; they do their own thing, but I will go and monitor them and see, and if I saw certain things that I don't like, I would correct them. Most of the times we were right. We have a lot of good wiremen here. One of the wiremen we had from way back was a fellah name Warner, Senor Gomez who came after, and Cito was here before.

With the sailor poses and dances, I will say Belmont again because I heard no argument over it as yet. There was a time when we used to have steelbands and they were out from six to nine. They would go over the Valley road on the 'hills', and these fellows would go with them. There was a fellow Carl Cox, and another one Baby Grant, they were the first people I see with this sailor dance right here in Belmont. Now, I am working I don't know what is happening. These fellows would practice before carnival.


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