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History of the Tradewinds

Known for their witty and insightful songs of Caribbean life, the Tradewinds, formed in 1966, have become one of the most revered groups in the West Indies.

Led by the versatile Dave Martins (Guyana) with his guitar, vocal and composing ability, the group, like its name, reflects the span of the Caribbean. Tradewinds also includes Clive Rosteing (Trinidad) on drums and vocals, Jeff Japal (Grenada) on keyboards, Richard Terry (Cayman Islands) on bass and Harry Cupid (Barbados) on percussion and vocals.

The band achieved almost instant celebrity when a Dave Martins' original "Honeymoon Couple", one of four songs the band recorded in Toronto in 1966 six months after it was formed, became a runaway hit in the Caribbean. Following on that success, Martins' song-writing ability (he has written 110 Tradewinds originals) kept the band at the forefront of Caribbean popular music for decades as this unique group became part of Caribbean life.

Formed in Toronto in 1966 with immigrant musicians from the Caribbean (early members were Kelvin Ceballo, Joe Brown and Glen Sorzano, all of Trinidad, and in later years, Terry Dyal, also a Trinidadian) the band had been based in the Cayman Islands since 1982, continues to records and still makes occasional appearances playing their music to devoted followers in North American and the Eastern Caribbean.

There is no doubt in the pride of being a West Indian in such Tradewinds classics as "Caribbean Man", "Boyhood Days", "Where are Your Heroes" and "We are the Champions". Other compositions such as "Cricket in the Jungle", "Civilisation" and "Copycats" make you step back and reflect on the Caribbean way of approaching life, at home and abroad. Other very popular songs, written by Martins, include "Mr. Rooster", "Wong Ping", "You Can't Get", "Not a Blade of Grass" and the 1997 release "Gie Dem Shiv" which is a tribute to Guyanese-born West Indian Cricket star Shivnarine Chanderpaul.

Although his writing is most known for its variety, imagination and humour, Martins is also able to stir up tenderness and deep emotion in such creations as "Come Back Again", "A Little While from Now", "Don't Cry, Mama", and "Come Dance With Me".

The Origins

Having immigrated to Canada in the late 1950's, Dave Martins gave up a promising song-writing career with BMI Canada ("Bluenose", "Steel Men") and went back to his roots in 1966 to form the Tradewinds - a group that drew instant karma from the large West Indian community in Toronto. Dave Martins eventually owned and operated his own club "We Place" in downtown Toronto.

Riding the popularity of their first hit "Honeymooning Couple", the group became a household word in the Caribbean, touring the islands twice annually and playing the Trinidad Carnival from 1968 to 1981 as a visiting band - one of the few groups to accomplish such a feat. Since the band has been together, they have made appearances in virtually every Caribbean country (even in tiny Bequia, Guyana and such island locations as Bantica, Anna Regina and Coriverton) and has played all over Canada and the U.S.A. including such prestigious venues as Madison Square Gardens, Carnegie Hall, Vancouver's Queen Elizabeth Theatre and Expo 67 in Montreal.

The Recordings

From 1966 to 1996 the band has produces 17 albums (4 on RCA Victor and 13 on Penny Records) including a dozen 45 rpm recordings. Recorded in a variety of studios in Toronto, Montreal, Edmonton and Miami (RCA Victor, Toronto/Montreal; Captain Audio; Knick Sound, Criteria Sound) the albums were released on vinyl and cassette.

Starting in 1996, the band began reissuing the catalogue on CD at Hopscotch Studios in Grand Cayman, with re-engineered recordings faithful to the originals. To date, three of those CDs entitled "Tradewinds Greatest Hits" have been recorded. Their goal is to eventually have 6 CDs composed of approximately 80 songs associated with this legendary group. In late 1997, the band started work on an entirely new CD, with new songs written by Martins, which is slated for release in March 1998.

About the Songs

In the words of Dave Martins "The songs come from watching, listening, and ruminating. 'Honeymooning Couple' came from a joke a relative told me, and 'Cricket in the Jungle' came from a joke I heard from Guyanese storyteller Ken Corsbie. 'Copycats' came from seeing West Indians trying to shed their cultural baggage in Canada and the U.S.A. 'Where Are Your Heroes' came from noticing all the statues and monuments in North America, and only one, to Queen Victoria, in Guyana. Sometimes the songs are quick, they almost write themselves, sometimes they take months. I wrote 'You Can't Get' in about half - an-hour, and it took me almost a year to figure out how to write 'Wong Ping', which is about male sexual prowess in the Caribbean. After the Jonestown mass suicide, many Guyanese told me to write about it, but I couldn't see a song there, it was too horrible. It took me almost a year to find the song by ignoring the deaths and simply writing about a people blindly doing what they were t old. Sometimes a line that sounds so natural ('How else could you have said that?') takes weeks, a single word can often take days. Songwriting is a gift you're born with. You can refine it and develop it, but without the gift you cannot become and important writer. Many of us with the gift take it for granted...I certainly did...a beautiful young woman from Guyana helped me to see that. I' trying not to take it for granted anymore"......

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Copyright: Dave Martins and The Tradewinds


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Last update: 03/19/12

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