Sunday, 17 June 2012 02:30
By D Francis
Antigua St. John’s - Gently pulling at his sand-coloured beard and sometimes looking skywards, prolific musician Rawdon Edwards shared great pieces of information with Caribarena.com as we took him way back to when his musical journey began.
Edwards who is celebrating his 40th year in the music industry recalled the love he has for music from a very young age, although his father never wanted him to pursue that career path.
“I started playing the bass pan in academy school in the 1960s. Shortly afterwards, my old man (my father) got a back pay a bought a second hand piano and I fell in love with the instrument. I was what we Antiguans would say “soup” to play the piano; I was soup…very neat…every moment I got I went on the piano.”
Edwards said he played with quite a number of bands from that era such as Brute Force, Harmonites, Astronauts and Neptune which was basically a show band.
He said he played with Neptune for about two years and all this while he was still going to school.
Shortly after completing high school, Edwards said he went to St. Thomas and played with a band called Soul Clan.
“Actually a tell you something my father wanted to make a doctor or lawyer out of me; that is what he wanted me to be but I wasn’t having it. I loved music and I was progressing and getting better at it at quick. At one point, my father actually regretted he bought the piano. I told him to mortgage the house and send me to music school but angrily, he didn’t approve.”
Edwards said he tried to persuade his dad that one day he was going to show him a whole lot of money that he made from music and when he finally did, he said he was shocked.
“My father said, you Bwoy (boy)…a whey you get all them money dey?” and I said to him, “I told you I was going to show you a lot of money from my music some day.”
He said his father showed stifled approval as he kept on insisting that he should be a doctor or lawyer.
As a matter of fact, Edwards said he personally thinks these lines of career in Antigua is “bloated” and encouraged persons in pursuit of less popular ones to do so with perseverance and vigour and they will reap the benefits.
Edwards said he went to live in Grenada with his father for a while as he (father) was principal of a school there. He then came back home and joined the Laviscount Brass, then later joined the Mason Brothers in N.Y doing gigs before returning home. He finally played with Targets for a year before he went on his own and recorded with Calypso Joe at the Express Band Studio in St .Croix in 1994, and continued to record every year after that.
“The Rawdon Trio is what we were called and when we added a vocalist it was called the Rawdon Edwards Band. We used a number of female vocalists over the years such as Faye Edwards, Pat Raguette, Patrice Martin, and Lady Falcon. Also Mean Dean, P. Edwards and Toby. D were also part of the lineup.”
Now Edwards plays in the major hotels across the island and at the V.C International Airport Arrivals Lounge.
“I thank God everyday for my unique talent, they tell me all the time that I have two brains I play bass with my left hand and my right hand is something totally different. It’s an amazing gift I have.”
He said although his 40th year as a professional musician is a stellar achievement he is not yet completely satisfied as one of his greatest wishes is to revive a steady music festival in Antigua & Barbuda.
“I intend to have a major concert with most of the musicians I came into contact with during my musical journey. I want it to be an outstanding event that we can produce on an annual basis. If I am not confident that the concert will be of a remarkable and classy standard, I will not go through with it. I am in the process of sending out letters to seek sponsorship and I am looking at about the third week in October to have this grand event.”
Edwards continued, “You know what someone told me in town the other day? They said, ‘Rawdon, we had the ball where music festivals were concerned but we dropped it’.”
Edwards is confident that Antigua & Barbuda can return to great heights in this area as their counterparts in the Caribbean especially if it is not handled by American corporations.
He added, “I mean, I have no problems with American involvement at some stage, eventually, but I would like to see us start with our own people…Caribbean and African artistes. I mean we have excellent musicians and artistes all around the Caribbean in places like Cuba, Martinique and Guadeloupe that we fail to highlight and opt for American artistes where huge amount of monies have to be dished out.
“We have to start on a manageable level, start small and grow. You bring one headliner the second year, if it works then you bring two to entertain the crowd the following year, along with our own Caribbean people, and I think that’s a good method for having a music festival on your calendar every year,” Edwards remarked.
His 2012 40th Anniversary Album is entitled, “40 years and still pushing on.” It features 15 tracks and nine originals of soca, calypso, and Latinlypso with a little jazz.
According to Edwards, “I want everybody to feel the love from the fingers.”
Caribarena .com used the opportunity to ask Edwards his thoughts on music and Carnival today.
“I think today’s music is too sexual…today’s music is like having sex outside the bedroom. They have to change the lyrics so it can have a different impact, tone the language down a bit and show more respect for women. Also there are violent instigations in some of the songs these. It’s not everybody love that sort a thing, but they still would like to go out and have good, clean fun.
“Look! Let me tell you something. Some years ago when they had J’ourvert on Old Parham Road, I am sure you remember, I came out of my house and looked on and the conduct of some of the revellers was so vulgar, I turned on my heel and went right back inside,” Edwards said.
He said he believes Carnival is a time to showcase Antigua & Barbuda’s talent and culture and this aspect of it is waning tremendously year after year.
He also feels that it’s time that more professional musicians should be used on the stage to perform during Carnival.
“I believe so…especially at the shows that don’t require much of a pumped up rhythm urging the crowd to jump and wave…you can relax and listen to some great music while you wait for the results.”
Not ending the interview without asking Edward his thoughts on fatherhood and if he thinks the role of fatherhood is losing its momentum these days, he quickly said, “The role of parenthood in general is losing its momentum, the way some parents dress, both man and woman, how they talk, behave, leave a lot to be desired. You see a man walking down the road playing the “slackest” music and his pants halfway down his rear end and he has his little boy or nephew with him, even in the cars the most vulgar language peals out loud in songs for all to hear; that’s not good.”
“Another thing, the fathers need to feed them pickney (children). Could you imagine the amount of mothers struggling out there without the support of fathers? That’s not cool, it breaks my heart.
And men, use a condom every time you have sex apart from taking care of unwanted pregnancies, we have to think about the many sexually transmitted diseases out there not to mention HIV.
“And the women need to insist on this because the burden many times is left on you.”
Edwards is the proud father of six daughters, the youngest of whom is 14 years old. He said she told him that she wants to be just like him “a great musician” and he is too happy to help her reach that goal.
He celebrates his 60th birthday in July.