« A fascinating release » by Rock N’ Reel

This double-CD collection of forty-four tracks from the former British colony of The Bahamas, not far from the coast of Florida, is a fascinating release. ‘Goombay’ is a generic term for traditionnal Bahamian music and the best-hnown performer is banjoist, singer and composer Blind Blake (Higgs), with is small string band, plus the occasionnal trumpeter (not to be confused with Blind Blake, the 20s bluesman, though he sometimes has been). His repertoire of local folksongs, vintage calypso, Jamaican mento, tourist tunes, and sousthern American folk-blues tunes is fairly typical of the other nine performers also present here, with Cuban rumba and mambo, Haitian music and tinges of jazz also occasionally apparent. The first Cd tends to an acoustic sound, the second includes electric guitar, and the song topics of both are often of historical interest. That may seem rather specialist, but it is worth nothing that Higgs was an influence on Joseph Spence, who was popular during the Us folk revival and also an inspiration to the likes of Incredible String Band and Ry Cooder – though this is an extremely entertaining set in its own right. Norman DARWEN – ROCK N’ REEL