Hooked By The Bahama Junkanoo
Thirty years ago I was taken to a mental wonderland when I heard this music and versions of this type of music. Now that I look back at that time in my life it almost seems like what I would guess a possession might feel like. The sound definitely got my attention and has kept it. In the beginning it was hard if not impossible to find drumming, especially when I didn't know what I was looking for, I had never seen or heard such music. There wasn't much on the internet at the time if anything, matter of fact there wasn't much of an internet at that time.
The first time I heard the rhythms we were in the Bahamas for an evening of awards and accolades with about 300 others. Everyone was dressed in gowns and Tuxedos and the evening was going along normal for such an occasion until the cultural entertainment came through the double doors with a blast of drums, conk shells and toy horns playing wonderful high energy pounding rhythms. I started bouncing in my seat. I tried to stay in a proper lady-like position but my body would not be still. After a few minutes the gentleman next to me who was part of top management started bouncing with me and soon everyone around our table of 10 was on their feet bouncing with the next table to follow. Within 10 minutes all 300 people were up dancing, laughing and making conga lines around the great ballroom. My body felt like pure joy, if that's possible to understand.
I have since learned this specific type of rhythm is called Junkanoo. Thirty years ago to hear it you would have to travel back into the hill of the Bahamas, a place that was highly recommended NOT to go by most travel books. If you are interested in why this specific music is called Junkanoo and what they wear when playing in their parades I address that here: https://steemit.com/photography/@willowwisp/junkanoo-part-2
Here is a sample of the Junkanoo rhythm.
In 2004 I went back with a couple of my drumming friends to learn the Junkanoo and we were allowed into off-limit huts where an entire year is taken to prepare the costumes for the Boxing Day Parade which is the day after Christmas and the New Years Day Parade contest. The competition last eight hours. The route going around the block is about a mile long and starts at a large fire surrounded by 50-gallon goatskin drum faces getting ready for their debut . The smaller drums are snare drums they hold somewhat under their arm and play with their hands. I was told the route is done eight times with judges walking amongst the group members listening for synchronicity, clarity, and power.
More audio and photos from a Junkanoo parade and the basic beat.
Nothing is motorized. Every float is hand carried with people underneath.
Junkanoo has added a new section to their band family. I'm going to describe it as bells on the chest. They have also added two days a year for another public display, one during the Labor Day holiday and the other occurs during the last two weeks of July. These two new celebrations look like they are more about the music and family celebration than the floats and costumes.