playing guitarand so made his own out of a sardine can and a piece of white pine lumber.
With a hand-carved keyboard and key-head and strings made out of twine
from an old sack of flour, this guitar has become his signature
instrument. In the six decades that have followed, Jamesie has
continued to use this type of guitar when performing and recording
music, although not exclusively.
is a Crucian from the instant he wakes up in the morning. One can see
this in the way he eats, dresses, sits, smokes, talks. He makes kitchen
implements out of mahogany, makes musical instruments out of food tins,
makes melee out of news. Jamesie takes everyday incidents and turns
them into songs. In this way he provides a rich oral history of the
Crucian culture. To watch Jamesie make conch or johnny cake or strum
his banjo on the porch is to understand the Crucian customs, the
Over the years Jamesie has developed a unique style of playing and
performing for which he has become widely known. One way he developed
his style was by taking part in the festivities around Christmas time
on St. Croix . Scratch bands would stop at house “yards” one by one on
their way around town, serenading as they went. This type of
performance provided the musicians an opportunity to show off their
musical, oral and theatrical gifts.
Jamesie created his own version of an old traditional song after an
incident occurred while the band was performing in one such yard:
He say, Mr. Moore, your jackass in me yard
(I going home)
And I want you take him out
Mr. Moore, your jackass in me yard,
And I want you get him out
And when I went to chase your jackass
He left foot stick me in me a,-a,-ass
1995 Jamesie met members of the Danish Polcalypso Orchestra. They had
been invited to perform in the Virgin Islands during Carnival. The
Orchestra's music was a unique blending of Danish polka and Caribbean
calypso. Eighty years after the Danes left the Virgin Islands, and two
years after they met, Jamesie was invited to perform with the
Polcalypso Orchestra in Denmark . Two CDs resulted from this
collaboration: “Polcalypso Live featuring Jamesie” (1997) and
"Polcalypso & Jamesie Live in Denmark ” (2000). Jamesie has become
a beloved visitor to Denmark and to this day.
2002 Jamesie was honored at a Summit of Tradition Bearers for his
lifetime contributions to the Virgin Island 's musical heritage.
Other members of the band include:
Camille "King Derby" Macedon: BANJO
Camille Macedon was born in Frederiksted. He started playing the banjo
at age 8 in his home with his stepfather. At the age of 9 1/2 he played
"gigs" with the locally renowned "Simmons Brothers" (who had a Saturday
night live radio broadcast that had all of St. Croix dancing in the
living room). In 1948 he played for a visit from President Truman.
In the late 50's he played with Phanza Marshall "Knockout". In the mid
60's his interest turned to Calypso due to the influence of his
teacher, the late great John L. Nichols - aka John L. In '61, '63, '64, '65 and again from
1970 to 1978 he was crowned Calypso King of St. Croix. Since 1978 he
has run Calypso, Inc., a non profit organization dedicated to teaching
the youth to sing, play, write and perform calypso. "King Derby" is a
first cousin to Jamesie Brewster and has played professionally with him
for 5 years.
Lawrence "Trashy" Mason: SQUASH
Lawrence Mason was born on the Bethlehem Sugar Factory Plantation. His
family raised pigs and it was his job as a boy to feed them. One night
he couldn't find any feed so he took the "trash" from the sugar process
and fed it to the pigs. When his sisters saw what he had done they
nicknamed him "Trashy". He picked up the squash to play with Helen
Joseph in the early 50's. It came naturally. Since then he has played
with Zeke Tubb, Bully and the Kafooners and with Stanley and the 10
Sleepless Nights. He has played at the Smithsonian Institute and in New
York City. "Trashy" makes his own instruments and also crafts beautiful
Paul Hosford: BASS
Hosford was born in Christiansted. He started playing ukelele at age 9
with his father who had his own family band. After that he went to the
guitar, then the bass. He started playing with the family band at age
18. Paul has played with just about every quelbe band on St. Croix
Blinky and the Roadmasters, Stanley and the 10 Sleepless Nights,
Jamesie and the Happy Seven, Bully and the Kafooners and most recently Jamesie and the All Stars.
Wilfred E. Allick, Jr. "Junie Bomba": CONGAS
Wilfred Allick was born in Frederiksted. He started playing wind
instruments in Catholic School then went to percussion. He used to
sneak up the hill behind the school to listen to rehearsals of The
Vibratones and remembers getting his ears pulled for that by the nuns.
He first played on St. Croix with Rico and the All Stars. At age 19 he
went to New York and jammed with the drummers in Central Park where he
picked up some Latin licks. Junie Bomba has played with Native Rhythms,
Blinky and the Roadmasters, Bully and the Kafooners and also plays with
several jazz groups on the island. Junie Bomba teaches sailing to
children and makes conch shell instruments and kites.
Sylvester Ivan McIntosh "Blinky": SAXOPHONE
Sylvester McIntosh was born in Frederiksted to a rich musical heritage.
He started playing guitar at age 12. His father played saxophone and
had a band called "The Merrymakers" that played old style crucian music
with tuba, guitar, banjo, drums, saxophone, triangle and squash. In the
50's he got a saxophone and started listening to merengue from Santo
Domingo. In the mid 50's he played with the Pan Bush Hotshots. After
that he played with Archie Thomas, Joe Parris and the Hotshots, Luis
Richards Big Band and sang calypso in various hotels around the island.
In 1979 he formed his own band. The band didn't have a name until that
December when they were named Roadmarch Champions for Carnival. From
then on they were known as Blinky and the Roadmasters. They have played
at the Smithsonian and Wolftrapp in New York and were featured in the
movie Captain Ron with Kurt Russell. Blinky still plays occasionally
with his band and has been playing with his first cousin Jamesie
Brewster for 4 years. Blinky's mother, Ethel McIntosh was revered as
one of the finest cayiso singers in the Caribbean.
Dimitri “Pikey” Copemann: SAXOPHONE
Pikey began playing Quelbe music in the early 1970’s with Joe Parris
and the Hotshots. His interest in the melodies and lyrics of Quelbe led
him to begin collecting oral histories, old photos and the songs
themselves from the musicians and elders that were around him in
Frederiksted. In the mid 90’s he began playing sax with Jamesie and
started his own Quelbe band called the Native Rhythms. Because Pikey is
one of the younger musicians playing Quelbe, his contribution to this
project ensures an alternative perspective. He received a degree in
Fine Arts from Morgan State University.
“Hoofa” Richards: Triangle
Hoofa has been playing with Jamesie for several years.
He is a native of St. Croix.