Gems from the Archives – 26 First Long Playing album

This week we would like to share with you the first long playing album ever made by a Kittitian Band.  It was found on ebay in 2009 and acquired thanks to a donation by a researcher. It is not the best version of the LP.  We were first told about this album by Tamboura Kitwana who was a member of the Silver Rhythm Combo and today we also share part of an interview he did with us that year.



Q:        Silver Rhythms was the first to bring out a record weren’t they?

A:        Yes.

Q:        Were you part of them then?

A:        Yes I was the drummer.

Q:        What was it like?

A:        Oh it was exciting!  Cause the reason for that is that we used to listen to everybody from around the Caribbean and the world records, and we did not have one.  And it was a time, it was a very special time.  I could remember Dwyer Astaphan[1], he was the man who said, because he used to play for a while too.  He played saxophone.  He also played the congo drums for a while, very talented musician!  And he was going off to Canada to study and the band leader, was leaving the group to go to live in St. Thomas.  He had gotten his green card. And Dwyer said, he called me “Fitzy.”[2]  He said, “Fitzy. Boy you’s a good drummer you know, and one of these days nobody goin’  hear nothing about you.  It would be good if we could make a record and Blues going, (which is the band-leader) have something done for him special.”

So we had to play for a lot of dances.  That time dance was a dollar, a dollar fifty.  You know how much dollar fifties [laughs] we had to play for to get  tickets for eleven guys to go to Jamaica!?!  And we travelled by boat, the federal boat, one of the federal boats,  the Federal Maple[3] and we went to Jamaica.  It took us two days to get to Jamaica but we were excited.  None of us had ever been to Jamaica.  That in itself was like we going on a vacation.  And we got to Jamaica and we recorded at Byron Lee’s studio.  We had the studio for ten hours.  Ten hours to make a long playing album.  So we had to work hard, we had to work very hard.  But the end result of that record is that, in playing practicing and playing recoding,  the engineer, Carl Peterson, I’ll never forget him, a Jamaican by the name of Carl Peterson.  He is in Miami now, last thing I heard, recording still.  And we played a song by the name La La Means I love You, a song that the Jackson five did.  And we used four guys, four people to play that song.  It was Bruce Skerritt on the key boards, Blues on the lead guitar, Bing Charles on the base guitar and myself on the drums.  And when we finish playing the song, the engineer said, “Byron no’ going too like this you know!  Byron use a whole army to play this song and all you use four people.  Byron no’ goin like it.” Because Byron Lee was in Canada at the time.  And I’ll never forget, took us over a year to get our record and it was selling in Jamaica with no name on it, no label on it. Selling in Jamaica!  Kittitians who was going to University in Jamaica recognise it, because they knew the songs that we played, and they told us.  So we had to take the masters from Byron Lee and give them to another studio to master and press and everything.  But by the time we got the record it was too late.  You know what I mean, there was some diehards who wanted to have a copy but it did not sell as much as it should have. 

Q:        So Kittitians loved it?

A:        Yeah

Q:        But they did not buy it!?

A:        They didn’t buy it because it was a year old.  It was a year old.  But some did but it but it was a year old.

[1]A lawyer in Basseterre.  Minister of Government 1995-2008

[2]Tamboura Kitwana was christened Fitzroy Matthews.  He was also known as Jerry Mopstick.  He chose the name Tamboura Kitwana as a tribute to his African heritage.

[3] The Federal Maple and the Federal Palm were gifts of the Canadian government in support of the West Indies Federation which lasted from 1958 to 1962.  The boats continued to run after the Federation came to an end.