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Bury Boula For Me

from by Jayme Stone

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This song tells the story of Boula, a corrupt and despicable policeman. There’s a
cemetery on Bournes Road where executed criminals were buried and evidently the
song’s narrator believes it fitting for Boula to be buried there.18 Its composer, Phillip
Garcia (Lord Executor), was a dominant figure in calypso during the 1930s and 40s.
His voice had a haunting monotone quality and, like Neville Marcano (The Growling
Tiger), a pronounced creole inflection. Both were members of the Old Brigade Tent,
which represented the more folkloric sound of calypso, while the competing Young
Brigade Tent (where Mighty Sparrow made his name) was the site of significant
harmonic and lyrical experimentation.19
Before playing music, The Growling Tiger was a prizefighter and sugarcane worker
who won Trinidad’s flyweight championship in 1929.20 His rendition of “Bury Boula”
was recorded at his home in Trinidad by Alan Lomax on August 17, 1962, barely two
weeks after Trinidad and Tobago became an independent nation. It is a kalenda—a
call and response form which often accompanied a stick fighting art by the same
name. When sung by the chantwells at stick fights, they were boastful and taunting in
This song tells the story of Boula, a corrupt and despicable policeman. There’s a
cemetery on Bournes Road where executed criminals were buried and evidently the
song’s narrator believes it fitting for Boula to be buried there.18 Its composer, Phillip
Garcia (Lord Executor), was a dominant figure in calypso during the 1930s and 40s.
His voice had a haunting monotone quality and, like Neville Marcano (The Growling
Tiger), a pronounced creole inflection. Both were members of the Old Brigade Tent,
which represented the more folkloric sound of calypso, while the competing Young
Brigade Tent (where Mighty Sparrow made his name) was the site of significant
harmonic and lyrical experimentation.19
Before playing music, The Growling Tiger was a prizefighter and sugarcane worker
who won Trinidad’s flyweight championship in 1929.20 His rendition of “Bury Boula”
was recorded at his home in Trinidad by Alan Lomax on August 17, 1962, barely two
weeks after Trinidad and Tobago became an independent nation. It is a kalenda—a
call and response form which often accompanied a stick fighting art by the same
name. When sung by the chantwells at stick fights, they were boastful and taunting in
tone, but as calypso came into its own in the 1800s, the form was employed for other
means—from criticizing governors and scolding authorities to telling stories and
recording current events.21
I’ve known Drew Gonsalves for many years and he’s often introduced me to new
music. He turned me onto Lomax’s Trinidadian recordings and in 2013, we did a set
of calypso songs during one of the first Lomax Project collaboratories at the
Vancouver Folk Festival. Drew is a powerful calypsonian himself and leads the band
Kobo Town.

credits

from Jayme Stone's Lomax Project, released March 3, 2015
Drew Gonsalves (voice, quatro), Margaret Glaspy (voice), Brittany Haas (fiddle), Julian Lage
(guitar), Joe Phillips (bass), Nick Fraser (drums), Jayme Stone (banjo)

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tags: folk world Denver

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Jayme Stone Denver, Colorado

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